Rugby Union Weekly: End-of-season awards - Player of season, young star and breakthrough player

Saracens celebrate winning the Premiership
Saracens are only the second team after Leicester to secure a second Double

Wales won the Grand Slam and ruled the Six Nations. Leinster retained the Pro14 title, but were pushed by Glasgow. And Saracens were crowned champions of Europe and the Premiership for the second time in four seasons.

Another stellar season of rugby union has come to an end, but who deserves the individual awards? Which young players shone and who made an impression?

Just like the players, the BBC's Rugby Union Weekly podcast is going on a summer break.

But before that, England scrum-half Danny Care, former England winger Ugo Monye and rugby union correspondent Chris Jones decide their end-of-season awards.

Player of the season - Liam Williams

Liam Williams
Wales' Liam Williams won both the Premiership and European Cup with Saracens this season

Chris Jones: Who was the best player in the northern hemisphere from September to June? I think it's hard to argue with Liam Williams. He's won a few trophies this season and was instrumental in all of them. The play he made on Garry Ringrose - first tackling the Leinster centre and then winning a turnover at the resulting ruck - changed the Champions Cup final, and his try changed the Premiership final.

Danny Care: Yep, I'm going with Liam Williams. He's won the treble this year - Grand Slam, European Champions Cup and the Premiership. He seems to have taken his game to a whole new level. He's unbelievable in the air, a hell of a finisher and reads the game so well in defence.

CJ: But I'd also like to chuck in Jamie George. Liam Williams is hard to top and he's got to be our pod choice, but George scored two tries in the Premiership final and he's got to start at hooker for England at the World Cup.

DC: As a player and a friend of his, we've always known how good Jamie is but this year everybody knows it now. He's one of the best in the world in his position and he's taken his game to new levels. The performances he's putting in in semi-finals and finals sets him apart from other people. He's been world class.

Young player of the season - Damian Penaud

Damian Penaud
The 21-year-old Penaud had a stellar season for both France and Clermont in the Top 14

Ugo Monye: I'm chucking Frenchmen Damian Penaud and Romain Ntamack into the mix. Clermont centre Penaud has elevated his game and is looking class at international level. He was superb in the Six Nations on the wing for France and scored a hat-trick in the knockout stage to help Clermont win the European Challenge Cup.

DC: What I love about Penaud is his raw pace, you won't find many faster in a straight-line 100m race. He reminds me a lot of England's Jonny May springing around the pitch and finding himself on the end of tries. He's ghosted past so many quality defenders this year, he's strong and powerful and knows where the try-line is. From a Premiership point of view, Gloucester wing Ollie Thorley has had a great year and what about Northampton centre Rory Hutchinson?

UM: Oh my gosh, I have a man crush on Rory Hutchinson. He is phenomenal, he's so silky and he does everything so well. He makes it all look so simple. But I'm sticking with Penaud.

Breakthrough player of the season - Alex Dombrandt

Alex Dombrandt
Former Cardiff Met student Dombrandt, 22, shone in his first season as a professional

CJ: I know we mentioned him for young player, but Hutchinson is the breakthrough for me. He feels like the ideal representation of the new Northampton. A classic break-making centre, his incision against Exeter in the final round showed what Saints are all about under Chris Boyd. His breakthrough year could well lead to Japan.

UM: I'm going to say Wales and Worcester winger Josh Adams. He played last year and was brilliant, went on the summer tour for Wales but for me, during the Six Nations this year, there wasn't a better winger.

DC: It has to be Harlequins back row Alex Dombrandt. You can't be playing university rugby last season and then come and do what he does in the Premiership and not be breakthrough player of the season.

He was also carving up the Barbarians like they weren't even there at the weekend. From day one of pre-season I said to the coaches: 'This lad has got it all'. He reads the game so well, hits incredible lines and really reminds me of Nick Easter, who was probably the best player I've played alongside.

UM: Yep, from university to playing for England. And he got man of the match. Ridiculous. He has to be our breakthrough player and is an inspiration to others. This World Cup may come too soon for him but he will be alongside many other young England players targeting 2023.

Rugby Union Weekly podcast of the season

CJ: Inside the Wales camp, during the autumn internationals. They gave us unique and unprecedented access. We went everywhere, including the cryotheraphy chamber with Alun Wyn Jones, and even had lunch in the team room.

Chris Jones, Hannah Botterman, Ugo Monye
Chris Jones, Hannah Botterman and Ugo Monye at Bisham Abbey

UM: I enjoyed Johnny Sexton coming on for 45 minutes after he lost his voice at the World Rugby Awards. That was fascinating. But also England and Saracens prop Hannah Botterman was hilarious, and Emily Scarratt and Mo Hunt are an incredible double act.

DC: Guest of the season... Ken Owens. After Wales won the Grand Slam, he picked up a withheld number after not going to bed and came on the podcast from a taxi to talk to us.

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