Abendanon wins European rugby player of the year

Nick Abendanon, right, fights for the ball with Geoffroy Messina during their European Rugby Cup match. (Tom Hevezi/AP)

NEUCHATEL, Switzerland — Clermont Auvergne fullback Nick Abendanon has been named the European club rugby player of the season, the third straight year an Englishman at a French club has received the award.

In his first season with Clermont, Abendanon started in all nine of its European Cup matches, and scored a brilliant solo try in the 24-18 loss to Toulon in the final on Saturday at Twickenham.

He was shortlisted for the award with four loose forwards; last year’s recipient, Toulon’s Steffon Armitage, Clermont teammate Fritz Lee, Leinster’s Jamie Heaslip, and Saracens’ Billy Vunipola.

"I realize that this is an individual award but it is, for me, a recognition of the players around me who have shown such resolve and endeavour during a tough European season," said Abendanon, capped twice for England at 20, eight years ago.

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