Glasgow Warriors players, staff and supporters came together last night to commend the team’s achievements so far this season at a unique awards dinner staged in conjunction with the Bill McLaren Foundation and Help for Heroes.
he gala night at the Marriott Hotel in central Glasgow saw a number of players and coaches recognised for their contribution to a campaign where the Warriors have performed consistently well in the RaboDirect PRO12.
Sean Lineen’s team currently sit fourth in the northern hempishere’s leading domestic club competition, and can seal a place in the semi-finals by seeing off Connacht at home on Saturday 5 May (kick-off 7.30pm).
The game is the last ever Warriors match to be staged at Firhill ahead of the summer move to Scotstoun Stadium.
Flanker Chris Fusaro will head to these new surroundings as reigning Glasgow Warriors Player of the Season, having beaten off strong competition from the shortlisted Ryan Grant, Stuart Hogg and Tom Ryder to get the nod from head coach Lineen and his assistants, Gary Mercer and Shade Munro.
The 22-year-old has been in outstanding form all year, establishing himself as a pivotal figure in the Warriors starting XV and earning praise from all quarters for his relentlessly combative and intelligent approach to back-row play.
Fusaro has forged a significant role in 19 of the team’s 21 RaboDirect PRO12 matches to date, scoring back-to-back tries in the recent crucial home wins over Aironi and Cardiff Blues that kept the Warriors on track for the play-offs.
He also played in all six of the club’s Heineken Cup pool matches earlier in the campaign, and delighted fans and teammates alike by signing a new contract that will keep him at the Warriors until at least the end of May 2014.
Another richly talented performer who has burst onto the scene this season last night scooped the club’s Young Player of the Season award.
Stuart Hogg started the year with only two top team appearances to his name, and was still part of the Warriors’ Elite Development programme.
Having initially seized the chance to shine during the Rugby World Cup window, the 19-year-old has quickly established a reputation as one of the most exciting talents in the European game, combining pace, craft and game intelligence to outstanding effect.
Hogg scored his first Warriors try in the thumping 34-13 win away to Cardiff Blues, and landed a memorable hat-trick against reigning RaboDirect PRO12 champions Munster in Cork two weeks ago.
The full-back/centre won international recognition in the recent RBS 6 Nations Championship, contributing a terrific score on his first Murrayfield appearance against France.
Hogg recently signed a full professional contract at the Warriors that takes him to May 2015.
A product of the Hawick club, his feats would doubtless have sat well with another native of the Borders town, the late, great Bill McLaren, in whose honour last night’s awards dinner was staged.
Head coach Lineen told www.glasgowwarriors.org: “Chris Fusaro and Stuart Hogg thoroughly deserve these awards for their fantastic contribution to our season so far.
“Both have really taken the opportunity to step up and show they have what it takes to be leading players for Glasgow Warriors and everyone at the club is excited about the potential they have to develop even further.
“It’s also fantastic that they’ve both signed long-term contracts. I’ve no doubt they’ll contribute even more strongly in the years ahead and be a real driving force in the club’s efforts to achieve success.”
Lineen himself was honoured for his nine years of service on the Warriors coaching staff, being named as the inaugural recipient of The Famous Grouse Spirit of Rugby Award, presented by one of the club’s official sponsors.
Mercer, who like Lineen will move on at the end of the season, was also acknowledged on the night.
The final award of the night, Try of the Season, was decided by Warriors supporters via a poll on the club’s official website, www.glasgowwarriors.org.
Centre Peter Horne took the honours for his decisive late score in the 23-19 win over reigning European champions Leinster at the RDS last September. It was the first time the Dubliners had been beaten at home in some 29 games and almost two calendar years.
Lineen said: “Pete’s try was absolutely fantastic and a worthy winner. There was some really strong competition from Stuart Hogg, Colin Shaw and Federico Aramburu and the quality of those scores underline the strength of the season we’ve had to date.
“The campaign is far from over, and we’ll be doing everything we can to give the supporters even more to get excited about, starting with what will be a hugely tough encounter against Connacht at Firhill next Saturday.”
Warriors managing director Nathan Bombrys said: "Congratulations to Chris and Stuart on winninng their respective Player and Young Player of the Season awards. Both have been in outstanding form for the club and this recognition is well deserved.
"We also extend our congratulations to Peter Horne for collecting the Try of the Season. It’s great that the supporters got to choose their favourite try, and even better that they had some terrific tries to choose from.
"It was important for the club that we were able to thank all the players who are leaving us at the end of the season as well as to recognise Sean Lineen and Gary Mercer for the excellent work that they have done for Glasgow Warriors over many years.
“They have helped create a very positive culture and working environment that will stand us in good stead as we move forward, and we look forward to sending them off on a high by finishing this season in the strongest possible fashion.”
The Warriors awards were an integral part of last night’s dinner, which also saw vital funds raised for two great causes, the Bill McLaren Foundation and Help For Heroes, via a raffle and live and silent auctions.