Edinburgh may have failed to reach the Guinness Pro14 play-offs and the top tier of Europe next season but they enjoyed a good night at the tournament’s annual awards in Dublin as their No.8 was crowned player of the year.
The 27-year-old Fijian was voted by his peers to take home the Players’ Player of the Season award. Edinburgh stand-off Jaco van der Walt won the Gilbert Golden Boot with a goal-kicking accuracy of 86.84 per cent, while the club’s retiring Scotland hooker Ross Ford, the country’s most-capped player on 110, was recognised for his 17-year professional career with the Chairman’s Award.
There was more Scottish success as 22-year-old Glasgow stand-off Adam Hastings who was voted young player of the year and took the Energia Next-Gen Star of the Season, following in the footsteps of fellow Warriors Jonny Gray and Stuart Hogg who are past recipients of the award.
Mata has become a firm favourite of the fans at Edinburgh with his all-action style. Tonight he was rewarded for his performances in the Pro14 but the highlight of his excellent season was undeniably the outrageous offload for James Johnstone’s try in a historic European win at Toulon.
The man known as “Bill”, who won an Olympic sevens gold for Fiji at Rio 2016, signed a contract extension until 2021 with Edinburgh in February, after head coach Richard Cockerill had joked that he would be willing “to sell one of my children’s kidneys” to keep him at the club.