Nik Simon

Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday

It was a standout year for Nik Simon who continues to deliver powerful, agenda-setting pieces week in, week out. Simon continues to demonstrate an exceptional grasp of his specialist area, rugby, and beyond. He has an unrivalled contacts book, sharp news sense and a unique talent to gain people’s confidence and tell their story. Adding an additional layer to his written coverage, Simon supplemented his work with a series of videos which received more than a million views online.

After months of groundwork, Simon exposed rugby’s biggest racism scandal of the professional era. He secured a first-hand testimony from England centre Luther Burrell about shocking abuse encountered in professional changing rooms, exposing slurs about skin colour and slavery. The bravery of the article was publicly praised and prompted the Rugby Football Union to trigger a widespread investigation, with more players such as Paolo Odogwu and Cherif Traore sharing their stories with Simon. It culminated in Simon breaking the news about the findings of the independent investigation that uncovered racism at every level of the game.

Building on The Mail on Sunday’s game-changing concussion campaign, Simon delivered a series of powerful interviews with former England captain Dylan Hartley about rugby’s battle with brain injuries. Hartley’s interviews in the MoS exposed medical negligence in his early career and discussed combative action plans that have since been tabled in RFU meetings. In their latest feature together, Hartley shared brain scans which showed signs of long-term damage, but also introduced hyperbaric therapy as a means to limit the symptoms.

While in France at the Rugby World Cup, Simon spent two days with striker Andy Carroll. Gaining rare, unfiltered access to the man who was once England’s most expensive footballer, he shone a light on the mental challenges of life in the Premier League spotlight. It prompted calls for more support for young players to deal with the huge sums of money that come their way. It also unearthed hugely entertaining anecdotes about the life of a highly-paid celebrity, featuring everything from exotic cats to the Rolling Stones!