George McGuigan named Gallagher Premiership Rugby Player of the Month

Newcastle Falcons' hooker George McGuigan
Newcastle Falcons' hooker George McGuigan

George McGuigan was today acclaimed as a "shining light" at Newcastle Falcons as he was named Gallagher Player of the Month for March 2022

The Falcons' hooker hit scintillating form in March to take the prize, and finish the month as Gallagher Premiership Rugby's leading try-scorer, a crucial cog in the club's campaign according to BT Sport pundit and Gallagher ambassador, Ugo Monye, who feels that England honours could beckon for McGuigan.

Monye said: "George's performances have been of an exceptionally high standard in almost every part of his game. I think when you look at him, he has made a far greater contribution to his side as an individual than perhaps any other player in any other team this month.

"He's been knocking on the door for England for a little while now. He has not just got competition in Gallagher Premiership Rugby - he has got competition closer to home in Jamie Blamire. But George is the number one at Newcastle, and if you want to talk about contributions, he has contributed almost 20 per cent of all the metres made for Newcastle this season and is the top scorer in the league.

"He is an outstanding player, and I think for him, all he can do is remain focused and patient but also keep putting in the level of performances that he has done not just this month but throughout the season and in previous seasons."

Falcons fan and Director of Gallagher’s Newcastle branch (pictured above) Frank Firth, said: “As the league’s leading try-scorer, with an impressive hat-trick in the tightly fought match against Wasps, George McGuigan is a very worthy winner of Gallagher Player of the Month and it was a pleasure to present him with his award.

“The results in March may not have gone Falcons’ way but the team was always threatening and George was on stellar form, picking up and powering over the line on the back of many a rolling maul. This created some great rugby for all the loyal and local supporters here in Newcastle and ultimately built up to an emphatic away win over Worcester Warriors last weekend. Congratulations George.”

Northampton Saints' scrum-half Alex Mitchell was the runner-up this month with Tigers' hooker Julian Montoya third, and Monye believes there has been a change in style right across the league this season.

Monye added: "I think what we're seeing in Gallagher Premiership Rugby this season is that the successful teams are built on a really good attack, and I think that's George's best attribute.

"His lines of running and the timing of his runs, as well as his understanding of where space is, is brilliant. Making dents into defences, running into holes or creating space for other people, that is where he has really grown as a player this year. Notwithstanding, his set-piece is always very solid at the lineout and scrum.

"I think it is a testament to the player, you know, we would ordinarily be picking players in the top half of the table, and Newcastle Falcons are not one of those teams."

As part of his prize for being named Gallagher Player of the Month, McGuigan wins a shirt signed by the whole Newcastle Falcons squad and framed by Gallagher to gift to a charity of his choice, to help them raise funds for their chosen cause.

McGuigan was voted for by a panel of media professionals based on his performances in March 2022, alongside a public poll on the Premiership Rugby app, which drew more than 1,200 votes.

The judges were: Nick Mullins (BT Sport), Alastair Eykyn (BT Sport), Gavin Mairs (The Daily Telegraph), Sarah Mockford (Rugby World), Hugh Godwin (I), Andrew Baldock (Press Association), Bobby Bridge (Coventry Telegraph), John Everly (Bristol Post and Bath Chronicle) Jill Douglas (Broadcaster), Craig Swayne (@BallcarrierRugby), Chris Jones (BBC 5 Live), David Rogers (Getty Images) and Tom Hamilton (ESPN). The panel was chaired by Paul Morgan, Premiership Rugby's Communications Director.

Winners in the 2021-22 season

March – George McGuigan (Newcastle Falcons)
February – Freddie Burns (Leicester Tigers)
January – Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins)
December – George Ford (Leicester Tigers)
November – Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints)
October – George Ford (Leicester Tigers)
September – Adam Radwan (Newcastle Falcons)

Winners in the 2020-21 season

May – Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)
April – Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby)
March- Danny Care (Harlequins)
February – Marcus Smith (Harlequins)
January – Piers O’Conor (Bristol Bears)
December – Alfie Barbeary (Wasps)
November – Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)

Winners in the 2019-20 season

August – Jack Willis (Wasps)
May– Paul Hill and Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints)*
April - Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs) *
March – Jamal Ford-Robinson (Gloucester Rugby)*
February – Charles Piutau (Bristol Bears)
January – Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins)
December - Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby)
November – Tom O’Flaherty (Exeter Chiefs)

* Gallagher ran public polls while play was suspended to nominate a ‘Community Player of the Month’ in recognition of inspiring off-pitch performances made by players during lockdown to support their local communities and boost the morale of the wider rugby community.

Winners in the 2018-19 season

April – Francois Hougaard (Worcester Warriors)
March – Santiago Cordero (Exeter Chiefs)
February – Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints)
December – Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints)
November – Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby)
October – Alex Goode (Saracens)
September – Danny Cipriani (Gloucester Rugby)

Winners in the 2017-18 season

April – Vereniki Goneva (Newcastle Falcons)
March – Joe Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)
February – Jack Willis (Wasps)
December – Josh Adams (Worcester Warriors)
November – Ruan Ackermann (Gloucester Rugby)
October – Jonny May (Leicester Tigers)
September – Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)

Winners in the 2016-17 season

April – Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby)
March – Christian Wade (Wasps)
February – James Short (Exeter Chiefs)
December – Tom Varndell (Bristol Rugby)
November – Freddie Burns (Leicester Tigers)
October – Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
September – Jimmy Gopperth (Wasps)

Winners in the 2015-16 season

April – Teimana Harrison (Northampton Saints)
March – Francois Hougaard (Worcester Warriors)
February – George Smith (Wasps)
January – Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)
December – Maro Itoje (Saracens)
November – Nathan Hughes (Wasps)
October – Nick Evans (Harlequins)

Winners in the 2014-15 season

April – Joe Simpson (Wasps)
March – Elliot Daly (Wasps)
February – Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
January – Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
December – Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
November – Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)
October – Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby)
September – Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)

Winners in the 2013-14 season

April – Chris Ashton (Saracens)
March – Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
February – Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers)
January – Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
December – Nick Easter (Harlequins)
November - George Ford (Bath Rugby)
October – Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)

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