Double delight for fly-half Smith as Saints hand out end-of-season awards

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Fin Smith picked up two prizes at Saints’ end-of-season dinner on Tuesday night.

Smith scooped the Carlsberg players’ player of the season and GRAF UK young player of the season awards.

The 22-year-old fly-half’s performances this term won him the plaudits of his team-mates, and he becomes the youngest Saint to take home the players’ player award since records began.

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“It’s a massive honour for me,” said Smith. “To be recognised for any award, especially in such an incredible team like this, is an honour – but to be voted by your peers who you’re in the trenches with every day, working hard, really means a lot.

(left to right) Curtis Langdon, Courtney Lawes, Fin Smith, Joel Matavesi, George Hendy and Ollie Sleightholme (picture: Tom Kwah/Northampton Saints)(left to right) Curtis Langdon, Courtney Lawes, Fin Smith, Joel Matavesi, George Hendy and Ollie Sleightholme (picture: Tom Kwah/Northampton Saints)
(left to right) Curtis Langdon, Courtney Lawes, Fin Smith, Joel Matavesi, George Hendy and Ollie Sleightholme (picture: Tom Kwah/Northampton Saints)

“I’m touched by that, and I’ve loved being out there this season with the boys. Hopefully there’s still a lot more to come from us.”

The 2023/24 awards dinner, which was presented by GRS and hosted by David Flatman, saw Saints roll out the red carpet for 700 people to attend a black-tie dinner at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

It was also a night to remember for club legend Courtney Lawes, who was voted the cinch supporters’ player of the season (with thousands of Saints fans casting their votes), to round off his final season in black, green and gold.

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After a flurry of tries, a host of match-winning contributions and an impressive series of performances while captaining the side, including during the Investec Champions Cup semi-final at Croke Park two weeks ago, the 35-year-old took home the supporters’ player award for the second time in his career.

Lawes previously won the gong back in 2020, but capped off the campaign with another special recognition for his efforts.

“I’ve said it before, but the supporters are what makes Saints the place it is,” said Lawes.

“The support we’ve had throughout this season has been phenomenal, and playing in front of a packed-out cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens is incredible.“So, it means a lot to be voted as the recipient of this award by our fans.

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"It’s been a fantastic season so far, and I want to thank everyone again for their backing – I hope all our supporters have enjoyed it as much as we have, with hopefully more still to come.”

Elsewhere on a special evening at the Gardens, Curtis Langdon picked up an award in his first season at the club.

The all-action hooker was named the Michael Jones Jeweller breakthrough player of the season, with the 26-year-old making 25 appearances for Saints and scoring nine tries across his first term since arriving from Montpellier.

Langdon said: “This means a lot to me. I’ve obviously loved this year so far – as far as first seasons go, it couldn’t have gone much better.

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“There’s still some big games to come for us, but to win this award voted for by the supporters with so many other great players also coming through this year is very special, so I’m honoured.”

Saints’ WAIB try of the season was hotly contested this term, but it was winger George Hendy who collected the gong for his first effort against Munster Rugby – a superb gallop down the right wing that helped seal his side’s place in the Investec Champions Cup quarter-final.

The BC Workspace moment of the season award was presented to Ollie Sleightholme, who topped a close public vote for his hat-trick of tries against Exeter Chiefs back in January.

And there was time for one more award on Tuesday evening, with introduction of the Elite Safety, Training & Rescue coaches’ player of the season.

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The club’s coaches wanted to recognise the contribution of the player that they believe has been integral to the squad’s success this season – with Joel Matavesi pipping nominees Emeka Atuanya and Tom Cruse to the inaugural award.

Northampton Saints 2023/24 season award winners

Supporters’ player of the season: Courtney Lawes

Players’ player of the season: Fin Smith

Breakthrough player of the season: Curtis Langdon

Young player of the season: Fin Smith

Try of the season: George Hendy vs Munster, Investec Champions Cup round-of-16

Moment of the season: Ollie Sleightholme’s hat-trick vs Exeter Chiefs, Gallagher Premiership R11

Coaches’ player of the season: Joel Matavesi

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