O’Driscoll should have won IRB Player of the Year Award

It’s hard to argue with the fact that Richie McCaw is a pretty decent player, and has been for some time as the All Blacks captain, but has he been the best in the world in 2009?

McCaw has actually been injured for a large part of the season, and hasn’t looked his best in several misfiring New Zealand performances – particularly in the Tri-Nations, when South Africa beat them three times in a row.

The fact that the IRB Player of the Year Award has just been given to McCaw for the second time has caused some consternation among the rugby public, particularly in Ireland. There has been more than one suggestion that Brian O’Driscoll was a more worthy candidate after an incredible season.

An Irish Grand Slam, a first-ever Heineken Cup, a talismanic performance for the Lions, and now a victory over the World Champions – not a bad effort, and O’Driscoll has been arguably the best player on the pitch every time he steps onto it.

The other nominees on the shortlist were O’Driscoll, Fourie du Preez, Matt Giteau, Tom Croft, Jamie Heaslip and Francois Steyn – du Preez might also feel a little aggrieved, but O’Driscoll is the standout candidate on this list.

Who do you think should have won the award?

19 thoughts on “O’Driscoll should have won IRB Player of the Year Award

  1. Poor call, and if you look at the list of ‘judges’ and criteria you’d have to wonder what year they’ve been watching!? It’ll be interesting to see if Will Greenwood is on the Rugby club this week……

  2. Very bad decision – what were the judges doing when they watched the tapes. McCaw as you said only played half the season and Brussow owned him in the Tri-Nations. No Question but BOD is the player of the year

  3. I’d say Du Preez has had a better year than them all – central player in the Saffer team winning the Lions and Tri Nations.

    Who comprises the judging panel? I remember NZ winning Team of the Year in Nov 2003 just after England had won the world cup and beaten the Kiwis numerous times in the year before!

  4. BOD was robbed!

    The outrage here in Ireland is plapable.
    The stand out player in his position in the world while there is serious competition at flanker for Richie McCaw to contend with, especially from Heinrich Brussow who was man of the match over McCaw when they met in the Tri Nations in July.

    The general feeling here is that because Declan Kidney was named IRB Coach of the Year they played politics and spread the awards around.

    Disgraceful decision and the public are not happy.

  5. Judges:
    Tana Umaga, Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustin Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Paul Wallace and John Eales.

    They watched 46 matches apparently. Isn’t that how many times New Zealand played Australia this year?!

  6. No doubting that BOD is an excellent player but if we’re going to look at ‘talismatic performances’ then Du Preez sweeps it:

    He was talismatic in playing in and actually receiving winning medals for all of the following: Super 14 Title (bulls), Currie Cup Title (bulls), Tri-Nations Title (boks), and Lions Series Victory (boks). That’s 4 to BOD’s 3 (if you really want to count one single test victory as significant compared to Du Preez’s series victories).

    And we’ll also just look past the fact that BOD knocked himself and Danie Russouw out with a high tackle in the 2nd Lions test, and in so doing practically ensuring a Bok victory…he’s as guilty as ROG is for losing that test.

    Don’t do the Northern Hemisphere thing and celebrate mediocrity by claiming that a ‘talismatic’ player, on a losing side, deserves recognition above someone on the winning side.

    Again, BOD and Richie are excellent players, but both SHOULD have been pipped by Du Preez.

  7. I don’t think McCaw was even the top player from the South. I agree with Russ that Fourie Du Preez inspirational play at scrumhalf was instrumental in winning the Super 14, Lions Series, Tri Nations AND Currie Cup. If winning is a measure of greatness, it’s tough to argue against Du Preez. I think he should have been the winner.

    I hope BOD’s Bod can hold up until RWC 2011. He certainly looked great in the November internationals.

  8. “Don’t do the Northern Hemisphere thing and celebrate mediocrity by claiming that a ‘talismatic’ player, on a losing side deserves recognition above someone on the winning side.”


    Bod lost two tests as a Lion this year.

    But won all tests as the Irish Captain this year, with Ireland remaining indefeated something SA didn’t do, and their list of wins include the Grand Slam and turning over the world champions in Ireland a SA side including du Prees.

    He also won the Heni cup with Leinster.

    Hardly a losing side is it?

    So without trying to start an argument maybe YOU shouldn’t celebrate Mediocrity with a talismanic loser such as Du Prees who’s record this year isn’t as good as BOD’s at international level, and includes a loss to NZ, the Lions, France and Ireland.

    Hey ho though, and all that.

    No denying Du Prees is a great player, and I wouldn’t argue it if he had won it. He’s far more deserving then MacCaw, BOD deserved it far more then both of them.

    Would like to see how the voting was tallied… is it won vote for best, or do you vote your number 1,2 & 3, and then it’s the best total?

  9. Obviously I meant SA lost to Australia not NZ.

    And fair play to SA for winning team of the year, it’s hard to argue it, as they have been awesome all season. But Ireland are undefeated for 12 months and took the grandslam, when SA just got a pasting on their end of year tour with one win from 5.

  10. Russ come on man, Du Preez was playing behind the mountain that is the S.A pack, my little sister could of played well behind them. O Driscoll dragged his team kicking and screaming at times (unbeaten) through a tough 6 Nations, the same again with Leinster in the Heineken Cup and then then finished with thumping the life out of the Boks! I also have to point out that Du Preez wasnt pummelled to near death in several matches unlike Drico who had to overcome some real rough (and illegal) play from almost every team he faced this year, hope this is good enough reason for you to change your mind man.

  11. I honestly think that BOD was robbed.

    Richie McCaw spent a lot of 2009 injured, and in that time the All Blacks looked off colour, suffered as their ‘aura’ slipped and failed to win the Tri-Nations. McCaw is undoubtedly a class act and the best openside flanker in the world, but I think 2009 was BOD’s year – and before you say it I’m English so I’m not biased!

    With everything he achieved this year O’Driscoll should have walked this award. He lead Ireland to their first Grand Slam in 61 years and Ireland remained unbeaten in 2009; he was an instrumental cog in the Leinster team that lifted the Heineken Cup, and according to Ian McGeechan he formed half of “the best centre partnership in world rugby” alongside Jamie Roberts with the Lions in South Africa this summer.

    Oh and he can plait sawdust and on Saturday he knitted a rather fetching scarf from the fog that shrouded Croke Park.

    Seriously – what else did O’Driscoll have to do to win this award? He had an excellent season by his own high standards and effectively stuck two fingers up at all the critics who dared to question if he was past his best.

    Brian was robbed, and I am not happy.


  12. As far as I can make out, ANY of the other candidates — with the exception of The Wrong Steyn — would have been a better choice than McCaw. So, too, would have been Brussow, Parisse, Rocky Elsom, Jamie Roberts and Morne Steyn (surely they must have put the wrong one on the shortlist — Frans is useless except as a rocket launcher). Frankly, I’d have put Simon Shaw above McCaw on the list of candidates.

    I’ve always been a bit wary of the anti-McCaw lobby, but the autumn internationals made me realise that I’d actually been enjoying watching him cheat in the Tri-Nations because the entire thing is basically a cheating competition, but got pretty annoyed when he did it against England and France. He really is an exceptionally good, subtle cheat — far better than any of the blatantly thuggish Boks, and obviously much better than any of the Wallabies, since they always come bottom of the 3N and therefore must be the least good at cheating. McCaw’s standing in the game can only be the result of two situations: a) he’s invisible to referees, who honestly don’t see him entering rucks from the changing rooms and fishing around in them like a kid in a jar of sweets; or b) there’s something creepy going on at the top of world rugby and McCaw, the referees and the judging panel for Player of the Year are all in on it. Maybe that’s where all the money for the World Cup in NZ has gone to…

    Finally, and on a more serious note — although the last paragraph was mostly serious — we ought to admit that the idea of a “World Player of the Year” is pretty silly. By definition it’s always going to favour the more visible players: wingers who score one-on-one tries; half-backs who control the game; ball-running, big-tackling back-rowers. Guys who get on with things quietly in the engine room — especially props, since no one seems to know the difference between effective scrummaging and falling over — aren’t going to get noticed in the same way. Richard Hill probably deserved the gong in 2003 in terms of doing his job brilliantly consistently over the entire season, but he didn’t score the points…

  13. Keith Wood won the inaugral P O Y award, from hooker, which is hardly a standout position. I feel Fourie du Preez is an excellent player – the best scrum half in the world at the moment – however as has been noted before, the Blue Bulls aren’t exactly a weak side, and would have won the Super 14 and Currie Cup with Shaun Perry playing at no. 9. Bod has lead a decent irish side to an unbeaten year with match-winning performances – Ireland looked certain to concede a last mintue try on saturday until drico came up with the goods, nearly knocking himself out in the process. How can the best player of the past decade never win World player of the year?

  14. Of course there was Keith Wood — and quite right too — but he was hardly the model hooker, was he? He won the gong for his play in the loose, not for consistent lineout throwing and scrummaging. He was more of a back-rower in the shape of a potato…

  15. I think Stephen Jones from the Sunday Times must have been behind the decision – for he was the one saying that BOD didn’t even deserve to get in the test XV for the Lions before they left for SA. Absolute idiot…

  16. Justin, I am not sure how you remember “NZ winning Team of the Year in Nov 2003” when it was won by England that year.

    BOD is the stand out choice for player of the year for me.

  17. You’re right Ed, my memory obviously serves the facts incorrectly.

    Looking back over the past award winners, it surprises me that Graham Henry’s received ‘Coach of the Year’ no less than 3 times. Again, I must be biased after he royally f**ked up the 2001 Lions tour.

  18. how did mc caw win this, what a joke, he is a world class player, but by his high standards he had a off season.
    O’Driscoll on the other hand had a brillent season.
    he won everything he could with both club and country
    he is one of the top players to grace the game and he should of getting the recognition he deserved.
    Mc Caw shouldn’t of even being in the top 5 players of the year, with players like du preez, matfield, Elsom, and Heaslip performing much better

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