A VERY successful season for Banbridge Rugby Club was rounded off last Friday night with the Club Awards Dinner, when long-serving forward Colin Bickerstaff picked up the top trophy.
With the Firsts having made the Ulster Senior Cup final for the first time in their history, followed by their first promotion in 14 seasons, the Firsts Player of the Year Trophy was always going to be hotly contested. For his sheer consistency plus an ability to perform well in any of the three forward rows Bickerstaff was a worthy and very popular winner.
The Seconds also enjoyed success, winning Conference League Three, and hooker Paul Ross fully deserved the accolade of Seconds Player of the Year. It is extremely rare for any player to pick up a Team Player of the year award in successive seasons, but there was no denying Matthew Bird’s right to a second success on the Thirds, with the flanker turning in top-notch performances week after week.
The hard work of prop forwards can often be hidden from general view, so it was especially pleasing to see two of these unsung heroes pick up the Fourths’ and Fifths’ trophies. Andy Armstrong and Kris Campbell were the respective front row combatants who picked up the awards, a due recognition not just of their on-field performances but also their enthusiasm and commitment to the club.
There was a clear winner in the Most Improved Player category, with Andrew Kirkwood’s hard work both pre-season and throughout the season earning him a regular place on the Firsts squad and the much-coveted Outlook Cup.
Elliott Bell transferred from Ballynahinch early-season and he made a big impression at Rifle Park, moving up steadily through the ranks to finish on the Third XV, with the prospect of further promotion in the coming seasons. His contribution was marked by the award of the Bill McMaster Trophy for Best Newcomer.
Despite missing chunks of the season through injury Matthew Quinn ran off with the Paul Tamati Shield for Top Try Scorer, with hat-tricks on two separate occasions helping him to a 12 try tally over the season.
The hard work of the Club’s Ladies’ Committee, and especially the contribution of chairperson Carol Thompson, was recognised when she was awarded the Club Honours Plaque.
Four more members were inducted into the Century Club for players who have played in 100 All-Ireland League games. Colin Bickerstaff, Andy Brown, Gareth Jelly and Simon McKinstry have all achieved the challenging target and were presented with their club blazers complete with unique badges.