Botica wins French Top 14 award despite club's relegation

Paris (AFP) –


Kiwi fly-half Ben Botica was named the French players' player of the 2017-2018 Top 14 season on Monday despite his club Oyonnax being relegated.

Botica, 28, the Top 14's top scorer last season with 318 points, beat Julien Dumora, the fly-half who win the title with Castres, and Fijian centre Semi Radradra, who was with Toulon last season before moving to Bordeaux-Begles.

Botica, the son of former All Blacks centre Frano Botica, is the first player from a relegated team ever to win the award voted for by the players themselves.

"I'm a bit shocked. The other guys had great seasons. It was amazing even to be nominated. I hope I can get back into the Top 14 with Oyannax next year," Botica said.

It was a bittersweet day for the former Montpellier player as he was ruled out of action for between six and eight weeks with a heel injury.

Castres' coaching staff were voted the best of last season while Toulon's Mathieu Bastareaud won the best France international award after he was recalled to the national squad in 2017 following a two-year absence.