New Zealand number eight Kieran Read was today named IRB Player of the Year, becoming the third Kiwi to win the prestigious award and follow in the footsteps of teammates Dan Carter (2005 and 2012) and Richie McCaw (2006, 2009 and 2010).
At the same time, it was confirmed that Steve Hansen had won the Coach of the Year award, while the All Blacks won the Team of the Year award.
Read has been a standout performer in an already excellent team, excelling not only with his ball carrying and offloading ability, but also doing the nitty-gritty stuff as well as leading his country on several occasions this season, never allowing his performance levels to drop in the process.
Hansen’s win is his second in succession, while the All Blacks have now won the team of the year gong an astonishing seven times. They won all 14 of their test matches this calendar year, the first team to finish unbeaten in the professional era, so their crowning comes as no surprise to anyone.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The IRB player, coach and team awards bring the international Rugby year to a close and what a year it has been for New Zealand. They seem to reach new levels of excellence every year and although some managed to push them very close, they were clearly the stand-out team of the year.
“From a starting point of brilliance, Kieran Read has been improving steadily in recent years and is now, without question, a world-class player. His talent, work ethic and attitude make him an extremely valuable player for New Zealand and a formidable opponent for everyone else. Winning this award reflects a magnificent contribution to our Game during 2013.
“I would like to congratulate those who were on a stellar shortlist. All thoroughly deserved their place and gave the panel a very difficult decision to make.”
New Zealand Rugby Chairman Mike Eagle said: “This is fantastic recognition of a very special team. We are very proud of what Steve, Kieran and the team have achieved in 2013 as they have worked hard to be the best, and we congratulate them on these awards.”
All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen said: “I’d like to congratulate Kieran on his award as it is well deserved. He has been outstanding and has been a major contributor all season. It’s been a big year and I am incredibly proud of what the boys have achieved. I thank them for their commitment and efforts throughout the year.
“It’s certainly special to have the All Blacks named for all three IRB awards, so it’s important that we thank and acknowledge all those behind the team because it wouldn’t happen without them – the players, our management, the other team behind us at New Zealand Rugby, All Blacks fans around the world, but most importantly, thanks to our families for the love and support that allows us to focus on this great Game.”
Previous winners of the IRB Player of the Year Award:
2012 Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2011 Thierry Dusautoir (France)
2010 Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2009 Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2008 Shane Williams (Wales)
2007 Bryan Habana (South Africa)
2006 Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2005 Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2004 Schalk Burger (South Africa)
2003 Jonny Wilkinson (England)
2002 Fabien Galthié (France)
2001 Keith Wood (Ireland)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images