SALT LAKE CITY, UT (June 25, 2019) – Major League Rugby (MLR) officially announced its award winners and All-MLR team selections for the 2019 season on Tuesday.
Fresh off his team’s successful title defense, Brad Tucker of the Seattle Seawolves has been named the 2019 Player of the Year. Tucker was a force at lock for the Seawolves all season long, making his presence felt on both sides of the ball. His consistent performance throughout the regular season carried into the playoffs and was instrumental to the Seawolves during their post-season run to defending the MLR Championship Shield.
MLR also announced the top 30 players throughout the season, making up the first and second All-MLR teams. The selections were voted on by members of the MLR media:
|1ST XV||2ND XV|
|1||ROB BROUWER (TOR)||FRANCO VAN DEN BERG (UTA)|
|2||DYLAN FAWSITT (RUNY)||ERIC HOWARD (NOLA)|
|3||PADDY RYAN (SDL)*||MORGAN MITCHELL (TOR)|
|4||MIKE SHEPPARD (TOR)||BEN MITCHELL (AER)|
|5||NATE BRAKELEY (RUNY)||LOU STANFILL (SDL)|
|6||BRAD TUCKER (SEA)*||LANCE WILLIAMS (UTA)|
|7||NAKAI PENNY (SEA)||MATT HUGHSTON (RUNY)|
|8||RIEKERT HATTINGH (SEA)||CAM DOLAN (NOLA)|
|9||NATE AUGSPURGER (SDL)||MIKE PETRI (RUNY)|
|10||JOE PIETERSEN (SDL)||SAM MALCOM (TOR)|
|11||CONNOR WALLACE-SIMS (RUNY)||DAN MOOR (TOR)|
|12||JP DU PLESSIS (SDL)*||SHALOM SUNIULA (SEA)|
|13||TRISTAN BLEWETT (NOLA)||RYAN MATYAS (SDL)|
|14||JOHN RYBERG (GLEN)||BROCK STALLER (SEA)|
|15||JP ELOFF (NOLA)||MAT TURNER (SEA)|
“Congratulations to all the players being recognized for their exceptional achievements on the field this season,” said Dean Howes, Commissioner of Major League Rugby. “The depth of talent in the league is truly impressive and each selected player had a truly remarkable season.”
The First and Second All-MLR Teams represent the best players from each positional group who consistently demonstrated top play on the pitch throughout the regular season.
Finally, the MLR also announced its major accolades for the 2019 season. The following recipients exemplified excellence in performance throughout the year and have been recognized by members of the MLR media:
- PLAYER OF THE YEAR – BRAD TUCKER (Seattle Seawolves)
Seattle Seawolves lock Brad Tucker logged seven tries and 1072.9 metres on 188 ball carries in 2019. His impact didn’t end there – defensively Tucker posted an incredible 96% tackle percentage.
- FORWARD OF THE YEAR – PADDY RYAN (San Diego Legion)
Paddy Ryan was a key component of San Diego’s success this season. The tight-head prop had 711 metres on 123 carries on his way to two tries this season. Defensively, Ryan was extremely effective with a 94% tackle percentage.
- BACK OF THE YEAR – JP DU PLESSIS (San Diego Legion)
When it came to consistent production, San Diego had to look no further than JP Du Plessis. This season, Du Plessis recorded seven tries while netting 1118 metres on 159 carries, earning him Back of the Year honours.
- COACH OF THE YEAR – ROB HOADLEY (San Diego Legion)
The San Diego Legion were the story of the 2019 season, and it all started with coach Rob Hoadley, recipient of Coach of the Year honors. Hoadley was able to coach his squad to a 12-3-1 record throughout the regular season, leading them on a run that saw them narrowly edged out in the final seconds of the championship game.
We are incredibly proud of both JP and Paddy for achieving their well deserved acknowledgement as MLR back and forward of the year.
As an organization we are focused on building upon the platform from the previous campaign. Recruitment obviously plays a huge role in that. Paddy Ryan was our biggest acquisition in the off season and a clear statement of intent to change the perception of our pack. Paddy has contributed so much more than his on field performances suggest. And with onfield stats that earned him forward on the year, that tells its own story. In terms of league wide stats, Paddy was 21st in tackles made (an incredible stat for a prop), 2nd in dominant tackles, 9th in offloads. He has been a leader from start to finish, leaving an indelible mark on our franchise. An outstanding communicator, Paddy had the rare ability to tap into the mentality and needs of the group from very early on. By driving standards in preparation, he ensured that we produced one of the most physical groups of forward throughout the MLR. Both his impact in the scrum, and in his abrasive ball carrying, Paddy drove a hard nosed approach in the pack that constantly fought to create front foot momentum for the team. Allied to recruitment is development of current players. Paddy also stepped up in this regard, as he worked closely with Scott Murray to contribute to fine seasons for his young front row colleagues. Paddy is a true competitor, which clearly made him a fan favoutire. He also continually looks for ways to contribute to those around him, which made him a true players player.
In terms of building from season one, JP du Plessis has been a stellar influence. JP had a very good season 1, but was beset by injury and unfortunately missed the semi final. JP was determined to take his opporutity to rewrite the script this season. He arrived for pre season in the shape of his life, making a clear statement of intent. In attack, his line running and explosive footwork made him a constant menace for defensive teams. Whilst this was highlight reel work that was clear for all to see, some of his defensive impact may have gone under the radar. After the regular season, JP was clearly one of the best defenders in the MLR as he registered 8th in tackles made, 5th in dominant tackles made, 3rd in breakdown steals. His consistency across the board ensured his name was high in almost every league category, as he was 16th in carries made, 16th in running meters, 6th in tackle breaks. JP was a calm and consistent presence for the whole season, and combined that with a unique ability to create a game-changing moment on both defense and attack.
The pathway to success at Legion is but on more than just ability, and these two men are testament to that. Their character shone through all of their preparation and performances. We were fortunate that their families were able to share in their success, as JP and Paddy shared the pride in our mission with their loved ones. We are grateful to the support of Both Paddy and JP’s families. We hope that these two men stand as a great example to all of our young Legion fans, who aspire to one day wear the red, black and white at Torero Field.
– “Coach of the Year,” Rob Hoadley