McCaw named IRB player of year


Rugby:New Zealand captain Richie McCaw has been named the International Rugby Board (IRB) Player of the Year 2010. McCaw’s accolade completes a hat-trick of awards for New Zealand, with the All Blacks named Team of the Year and Graham Henry unveiled as Coach of the Year for a record fourth time.

McCaw (29) is the first player to receive the prestigious accolade three times (2006 and 2009) and in consecutive years, cementing the flanker's position as one of the greats of the game.

Henry has previously been named IRB Coach of the Year in 2005, 2006 and 2008 and New Zealand are named IRB Team of the Year for the fourth time in six years.

McCaw faced stiff competition from teammate Mils Muliaina, South Africa’s Victor Matfield, Imanol Harinordoquy of France and rising young Australia stars David Pocock and Kurtley Beale.

However, McCaw captained the world’s number one ranked team to a record of 13 wins from 14 matches during 2010, including a Tri-Nations title and an unbeaten end of year tour to Europe.

“It’s been a good year and everyone has made a huge effort, from the coaches right through all the players. It’s been a lot of fun as well to work with quality players, and I just love playing rugby and especially international rugby,” said McCaw, along with Muliaina now the most capped All Blacks of all time.

“This Award is very special but wouldn’t happen without an exceptional team who are good mates, and that’s something I am equally proud of.”

Coach of the year Henry added: “I am very proud to be awarded this honour again. The Award reflects the hard work of the team, and I am delighted the All Blacks have also been named IRB Team of the Year.”

“It is also an award for team manager Darren Shand who does a fabulous job, and for the exceptional coaching team who work with me. I am extremely fortunate to have a group of guys who are exceptionally good at what they do.”

“Richie McCaw is a phenomenal captain. He just gets better and better the more he does it and the team now is a very experienced side with him and Mils on 94 caps each, and nine players in the side with more than 50 caps,” added Henry.

The judging panel comprised of former internationals with over 500 caps between them and included; Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustín Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga, Paul Wallace and convenor John Eales.

“Rugby is fortunate to have a player and person of the calibre of Richie McCaw. He is an outstanding captain, a world class player and a role model for our sport. In winning the award three times, Richie has truly cemented his place right up there amongst some of the greats,” said Eales.

IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset added: “It has been a compelling year of international Rugby as we count down to what promises to be a special Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand.”

“The All Blacks have consistently performed to the highest standards this year, they are number one in the IRB World Rankings and have lost just one match in 2010. Richie McCaw, Graham Henry and the entire New Zealand team are deserving recipients of these prestigious awards.”

The accolades cap a phenomenal year for New Zealand Rugby with Julian Savea winning the IRB Junior Player of the Year in June and Carla Hohepa named IRB Women’s Personality of the Year in September after a magnificent Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Samoa’s Mikaele Pesamino won the IRB Sevens Player of the Year in May, Brian O’Shea won the IRB Development Award in October and Colin High received the IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service last month. The Spirit of Rugby Award was presented on Saturday to Virreyes Rugby Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Previous Winners of the IRB Player of the Year Award:

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)

Previous Winners of IRB Team of the Year Award:

2009 – South Africa
2008 – New Zealand
2007 – South Africa
2006 – New Zealand
2005 – New Zealand
2004 – South Africa
2003 — England
2002 — France
2001 — Australia

Previous Winners of IRB Coach of the Year Award:

2009 – Declan Kidney (Ireland)
2008 – Graham Henry (New Zealand)
2007 – Jake White (South Africa)
2006 – Graham Henry (New Zealand)
2005 – Graham Henry (New Zealand)
2004 – Jake White (South Africa)
2003 — Clive Woodward (England)
2002 — Bernard Laporte (France)
2001 — Rod Macqueen (Australia)