The day after the Rugby World Cup Final, world rugby’s finest joined together once more as the IRB held their annual awards ceremony in Auckland. 10 awards were up for grabs including the big ones: Team of the Year and Player of the Year.
Here are the winners:
IRB Player of the Year – Thierry Dusautoir
Also nominated: David Pocock, Piri Weepu, Jerome Kaino, Ma’a Nonu, Will Genia
Having played a man of the match performance in a losing cause in yesterday’s Rugby World Cup Final, the France captain went away with the big prize of IRB Player of the Year. Dusatoir has been a key component in France’s set up for the past few years, leading from the front and working well with his back row colleagues of Julien Bonnaire and Imanol Harinordoquy. A well deserved award and only the second Frenchman to win it after Fabien Galthie.
IRB Coach of the Year – Graham Henry
Graham Henry tops off a brilliant year in charge with the accolade of IRB Coach of the Year. The All Blacks suffered just one defeat in 2011, to Australia in the Tri-Nations, and made the year theirs by winning the Webb Ellis trophy for a second time at the weekend. Henry and his team of Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith have turned New Zealand around over the past few years from nearly men to beating all comers. There’s a strength in depth to the All Blacks now, as shown particularly in the fly-half department during the World Cup, and Henry has been instrumental behind the scenes, learning from his experiences with both Wales and the Lions.
IRB Junior Player of the Year – George Ford, England
Also nominated: Sam Cane, Luke Whitelock
George Ford becomes the first England player to take home the IRB Junior Player of the Year award. The 18-year-old Leicester Tigers fly-half was the youngest player at this year’s IRB Junior World Championships, where he kicked 54 points in total as England finished as runners-up to New Zealand. He also played a pivotal role in England’s U20s Six Nations Grand Slam win earlier this year. This award is a great honour for the young man and we’re sure we’ll see more of him in the coming seasons.
IRPA Try of the Year – Radike Samo, Australia v New Zealand
IRB Team of the Year – New Zealand
IRB Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Cecil Afrika, South Africa
IRB Women’s Personality of the Year – Ruth Mitchell
IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service – Keith Lawrence
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Jock Hobbs
IRB Development Award – Rookie Rugby
IRB Spirit of Rugby Award – Wooden Spoon
IRPA Special Merit Award – George Smith, Australia