No Home Nations players on the list for IRB Player Of The Year

The International Rugby Board has announced the shortlist of nominees for the IRB Player of the Year 2011 Award in association with Emirates Airline. The winner of the prestigious individual accolade will be announced at the IRB Awards ceremony at Vector Arena in Auckland on Monday, 24 October, a day after the Rugby World Cup 2011 champions are crowned.

Four of the nominees are in the Rugby World Cup 2011 Final at Eden Park on Sunday with France captain Thierry Dusautoir joined by the New Zealand trio of scrum half Piri Weepu, flanker Jerome Kaino and centre Ma’a Nonu. The other two nominees are Australia’s flanker David Pocock and scrum half Will Genia, who will both play against Wales in the Bronze Final on Friday. Pocock has been nominated for the second year in a row, having missed out to New Zealand captain Richie McCaw in 2010.

“The IRB Player of the Year Award is the ultimate accolade for a player to receive in his career. It takes on added significance in a Rugby World Cup year and takes into account player performances in all major internationals, including matches in the RBS 6 Nations and Tri Nations,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset. “The list of past winners of this prestigious award is very impressive and comprises players of the calibre of Schalk Burger, Dan Carter, Jonny Wilkinson, Bryan Habana, Shane Williams and Richie McCaw, the only player to have received the coveted award on more than one occasion.”

The IRB Player of the Year nominees were selected by the IRB Awards independent panel of judges, which is chaired by Australia’s RWC 1999 winning captain John Eales and is made up of former internationals with more than 500 caps and four Rugby World Cup winners’ medals between them.

The IRB Awards panel comprises some of the biggest names in the Game with Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustín Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Paul Wallace having deliberated on every major Test played in 2011, starting with the opening RBS 6 Nations match and culminating with the RWC Final. In total the panel have watched more than 100 hours of action, awarding points to the three players they thought stood out in each match. In order to recognise the importance of Rugby World Cup matches in determining the Player of the Year, an additional weighting has been applied to matches in the Tournament.

“This has been one of the closest years to date. In fact the result could be influenced significantly by the next two matches and that’s what it should be like in a World Cup year,” said panel chairman Eales.

The IRB Player of the Year is one of 12 Awards that will be presented at the star-studded ceremony at Vector Arena, the others include the IRB Coach of the Year, IRB Team of the Year, IRB Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC, IRB Junior Player of the Year and IRB Women’s Personality of the Year.

Previous winners of the IRB Player of the Year Award:

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)

What do you make of the list of nominees? Who should be included and who should have been left out? Let us know.

35 thoughts on “No Home Nations players on the list for IRB Player Of The Year

  1. I always like to think how these players would cope in weaker teams – would they still shine?

    I reckon Nonu and Pocock would be the two to stand out.

    Can’t think of an English player who deserves to be in the list. A couple of players have shined on occasions but not consistently. Same goes for Ireland and Scotland. Wales might feel hard done by, but ultimately they have only really peaked for the RWC and not been consistent over twelve months. Warburton and Priestland for the list next year maybe if they keep improving and playing to the highest level.

    1. “Can’t think of an English player who deserves to be in the list. A couple of players have shined on occasions but not consistently. Same goes for Ireland and Scotland. ”

      Hmm, you’re in need of being put in your place. Speak for your own team please.
      Ireland and Wales have had the most cause to have mention imo, especially Wales – Roberts, Davies. Of Ireland, Healy, O’Brien. There was noone who really stood out for Scotland, England (Ashton? maybe) Wilkinson was very good but also surrounded by mediocrity. Wales, France and Ireland would appear to have the brightest future.

      1. Was mainly speaking for England – I know you can speak for Ireland!! Ashton and Youngs have had good periods but not sustained – can’t really see that Wilko even deserves a mention.

        Wales haven’t really stood out until the RWC and Roberts has been injured for some of the time. I think that they will have some players in contention next year as I said above. I agree Healy and O’Brien have played well, but not convinced that they deserve to be in this company. Wales made them look quite ordinary.

        Don’t have a clue about France’s future, they’ve got several players at the end of the road. I guess they have replacements ready – they always seem to! We all agree Wales has a bright future. I’d be interested to know who Ireland have coming through the ranks, as there are some mighty holes to fill after ROG, BOD and O’Connell go, to name a couple.

        1. McFadden looks promising for Ireland in the center, where the biggest gaping hole could be, but time will tell. You simply can’t replace B’OD. Ireland will probably have a completely different style of play such will be the changes. ROG will be replaced by Sexton, who is still 26 years. It’s interesting times. I don’t see anyone from the North really upsetting the status quo of Southern Hemisphere domination for now. France?

  2. I think Pocock is the best player from that list for pure individual brilliance throughout the year. But if (when) the All Blacks win this weekend it would would only be fitting for it to go to Ma’a Nonu, who has been sensational all year as well. So he’s my vote.

    As for home nations’ players, I really can’t think of anyone. The best team over the 12 months is England as they won the 6 Nations, and beat Ireland and Wales in the summer. But I can’t see anyone from that team winning this award.
    Warburton has been amazing, but only in the last 6 weeks.

  3. All good players but i am surprised sergio parrise doesn’t get a mention probably the best number 8 in the world

    1. Sergio Parisse is a qulaity player but Heaslip’s a better #8. Also the top points scorer so far by a long way of home nations is Ronan O’Gara, so I think he deserves nomination if anyone of the home nations players do, but ..they don’t ..

      Top 3 points scorers of 2011 RWC thus far:

      1. Morne Steyn
      2. Kurt Morath
      3. Ronan O’Gara

      1. Sorry I am an Irish Fan but there is no way Heaslip is a better #8, I wish he was! He has lost some of his edge in the last year. sean O’brien deserves a mention.

  4. Put Sergio Parisse in a Springbok or All Blacks jersey and he would be on the bench. He’s a decent player, but he’s the classic example of a player being over-rated because of the relative weak strength of his team. ‘Big fish in a small pond’ I believe is the expression.

    1. Totally disagree with the way you have looked at it. Parissse has excelled despite being in a weaker Italian team. Exceptional player – wish he was English. He’d make most national teams, although the two you mention are the ones with quality experienced starting no. 8’s. We’ll never know how he would go in those pecking orders, so we’ll never finish this debate. However having said this, I don’t think he is good enough to go on this list so to that extent I agree with you.

  5. Yeah this list seems pretty good. I cant think of any home nations players that would make it on the list. Was kinda surprised about Weepu, for me he has only stood out in the last few games. His place in the squad only really got cemented against argentina. I think Pocock should get it.

    1. Agree about Weepu – hasn’t been outstanding for the whole international season in my opinion, especially given he wasn’t playing full matches until recently.

      Pocock and Nonu are my picks.

  6. What about Sean O’Brien. Everyone seems to have forgotten what a season he’s had. European Player of the Year & European Champion. He had one bad good against Wales but has been outstanding over the past 12 months.

    If the IRB continue this biased few then the award will loose any kind of meaning and gravitas.

      1. Hmmm I don’t know – seems to fall in the same category as best actor in my opinion. It is based on the opinion of a range of ‘industry experts’ so to speak, and so is awarded on a subjective basis rather than an objective one. While that makes it non-measureable it doesn’t it doesn’t make it meaningless.

  7. Surprisingly no-one has questioned how Dusautoir made it to the short list. Playing fairly well in a weak French team who have been more lucky than good. Parrisse, Warburton, O’brien should all be on the list above him. For me someone from a smaller nation should be added as a wild card. Maybe the likes of Burger (Namibian captain), Todd Clever (USA), Paul Williams (Samoa). There are lots of quality players for the smaller teams who have shown great heart and spirit during their own campaign, and should be rewarded also. Maybe they should have a separate reward for these teams? IRB minnows player of the Year?

    1. I think that a separate award is a great idea. Or maybe they have regional / competition based champions and then choose an overall champion from there. E.g. 6N Best Player, 3N Best Player, Pacific Rim etc.

      Otherwise how are players from teams like Argentinia meant to compete if they don’t have a proper international competition each year (ignoring the fact they will be joining 3N)?

    1. His hair counts against him!! No one took Neil Back seriously until he got his hair cut and then he became the best openside in the world! A sort of reverse Samsom. Just joking – he’s had a great season, but wouldn’t put him in this company yet – he might make it if he keeps developing.

      Generally they don’t really like Second rows – not glamorous enough! I can think of a SA Lock who probably deserves to be on that list!

  8. I believe that the IRB Player of the Year is based on International performances, not Heineken Cups. So O’Brien wouldn’t be in consideration with that in mind.

    1. If so then I ask again why Dusauatoir is listed? Not been any more outstanding than several other players.

  9. nonu for me outstanding season has stood out in a great team……. but i agree with sean obrien being on list another great season !!

    1. Kaino has had the best season of his life, he is the best of the back three in the AB’S and has been awesome in this RWC.
      This award could be decided after the final.
      I would like to see a NH lions side play a SH babas side for a change?

      1. You are right about Kaino – when he didn’t play in the last Trinations match it made a huge difference in the All Blacks (in)ability to make yardage around the ruck. Also defensively he is extremely good these days and I think would have helped to slow down Samo more than Adam Thompson did.

        NH Babas vs SH Babas would be fantastic. Think they had a North vs South game 5 years ago or so.

        Still gutted I won’t be seeing a Nonu vs Roberts match up this year!

    2. The general criteria seems to be “Got your team into the final, and had a great season” Weepu or Nonu then. Nonu I think. That’s where my money would be. He scores 2/2 out of above, so It’s Ma’a Nonu for me.

      1. Piri Weepu ordered a Big Mac at Burger King, and got one.
        Piri Weepu destroyed the periodic table because Piri Weepu only recognises the element of
        Piri Weepu can divide by zero.
        Piri Weepu CAN believe it’s not butter.
        Piri Weepu and Mr. T walked into a bar. The bar was instantly destroyed, as that level of awesome cannot be contained in one building.
        Piri Weepu counted to infinity – twice.
        Piri Weepu invented black. In fact he invented the entire spectrum of visible light. Except pink. Tom Cruise invented pink.

  10. Of those I’d go with Nonu, but it’s a meaningless question. Cory Jane has been easily one of the most impressive players but did not start for all of the kiwi’s games. McCaw and Dagg too.
    Actually, French players have impressed me the most after Kiwi ones (which flies in the face of those that think they don’t deserve to be there). Dusautoir, Parra, and Hirinordoquy have all been outstanding.

      1. It is player of the year – not player of the RWC. Hari’s had a great world cup (you mocked when I told you he always upped his game for England!), but hasn’t been as everpresent throughout the year. Probably the enigmatic Lievremont’s fault rather than his, but there you go!

  11. Hmm – no space for Jamie Roberts?

    Anyway, its GOT to be Weepu for me if we’re just looking at those listed. He’s been AWESOME

    1. Roberts was great, but I suppose he’s not had a complete season for Wales, as Staggy alluded to above with Harinordoquy.

  12. agree with the jamie roberts comment had a cracking world cup but not a complete season i would of put sam warburton as a strong contender mind!

  13. as for the french not 1 person has stood out and think its a complete joke that a french player is even considered for the honour

Comments are closed.