Stade Toulousain’s Antoine Dupont, who is the current holder of the EPCR European Player of the Year and World Rugby Player of the Year awards, is again in the running to capture one of the game’s most prestigious individual accolades following the announcement of the longlist of nominees for the 2022 EPCR European Player of the Year award.
Dupont, who also captained Stade Toulousain to a record-breaking fifth Heineken Champions Cup success last season, is included in a list of 15 elite players who have delivered outstanding performances during the pool stage of the tournament.
Leinster Rugby lead the way with three in-form players in the longlist – Caelan Doris, Jimmy O’Brien and Josh van der Flier – while Harlequins have two nominees in Alex Dombrandt and Marcus Smith, and not surprisingly, all 12 clubs with representatives in contention for the award have qualified for the knockout stage of the Heineken Champions Cup.
As rising stars of the English game, the Harlequins pair have made a significant impact this season with Dombrandt scoring six tries from his four appearances and with Smith topping the scoring charts with 46 points from the same number of matches.
Leinster’s O’Brien hit the headlines by becoming the first player to score four tries for the club in a European fixture when he starred in the comprehensive Round 4 victory over Bath Rugby, while Sam Simmonds of the Exeter Chiefs – winner of the award in 2020 – has been on the try-trail once again with a magnificent seven to date.
The impressive Grégory Alldritt has made 45 carries and seven offloads for Stade Rochelais during their push for the Round of 16, and Ulster Rugby’s Michael Lowry has been in scintillating form for the Irish province, topping the statistics categories in Metres (563), Defenders Beaten (23) and Line Breaks (8).
The winner of the award which is in its 12th season will receive the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy in memory of the former Munster Rugby Head Coach and captain. Voting is now open HERE and fans will be in the running to win a signed ball and a signed jersey courtesy of one of the Heineken Champions Cup finalist clubs.
The list will be reduced to five players in May, following the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup semi-finals, by a combination of the public vote and the verdict of the judging panel, and players who have not been included in the initial longlist, but who make a significant impact during the knockout stages, may be considered for the shortlist.
The voting will then re-open and the winner of the 2022 award will be announced following the Heineken Champions Cup final in Marseille on Saturday, 28 May.
EPCR European Player of the Year 2022 nominees
Grégory ALLDRITT (Stade Rochelais)
Alex DOMBRANDT (Harlequins)
Caelan DORIS (Leinster Rugby)
Antoine DUPONT (Stade Toulousain)
Gaël FICKOU (Racing 92)
George FORD (Leicester Tigers)
Michael LOWRY (Ulster Rugby)
Jimmy O’BRIEN (Leinster Rugby)
Jack O’DONOGHUE (Munster Rugby)
Damian PENAUD (ASM Clermont Auvergne)
Semi RADRADRA (Bristol Bears)
Sam SIMMONDS (Exeter Chiefs)
Marcus SMITH (Harlequins)
Josh VAN DER FLIER (Leinster Rugby)
Cameron WOKI (Union Bordeaux-Bègles)
Judging Panel – Erik Bonneval (beIN SPORTS), Bryan Habana (two-time Heineken Champions Cup winner), Lee McKenzie (Channel 4), Alan Quinlan (Virgin Media), Dimitri Yachvili (France Télévisions)
Roll of Honour – 2021: Antoine Dupont (Stade Toulousain) ; 2020: Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs); 2019: Alex Goode (Saracens); 2018: Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92); 2017: Owen Farrell (Saracens); 2016: Maro Itoje (Saracens); 2015: Nick Abendanon (ASM Clermont Auvergne); 2014: Steffon Armitage (RC Toulon); 2013: Jonny Wilkinson (RC Toulon); 2012: Rob Kearney (Leinster Rugby); 2011: Sean O’Brien (Leinster Rugby); 2010: Ronan O’Gara (Munster Rugby – best player of first 15 years of European professional club competitions)