James Ryan runs away with Zurich Players’ Player of the Year award
Leinster and Irish lock is youngest player to scoop accolade at Irish Rugby Players Awards
James Ryan (right) with Leinster team-mate Tadgh Furlong following their Champions Cup defeat to Saracens at St James’ Park, Newcastle, last Saturday. Photograph: Billy Stickland
It is a measure of the esteem in which James Ryan is held by his peers that the 22-year-old Leinster and Irish lock has become the youngest player to be named the Zurich Players’ Player of the Year for 2019, at the 17th Irish Rugby Players Awards, which were held in the Clayton Hotel on Wednesday night.
Ryan won the award from a shortlist also featuring Tadhg Beirne, Jack Carty and Peter O’Mahony, and he also became the first player to win both the senior award and the Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year 2019, ahead of Jordan Larmour and last year’s winner Jacob Stockdale.
I have many great memories of the season but there have also been plenty of learnings that I will take with me into the future
Having recently been voted Leinster’s Player of the Year, on receiving his award Ryan commented: “It’s always nice to win awards, but tonight has been particularly special in that I am being recognised by my team-mates and opponents. I have many great memories of the season but there have also been plenty of learnings that I will take with me into the future. A special word of thanks to my family who continue to guide me through what has been a fairly hectic rugby career to date.”
Ryan was also nominated for the Supporters’ Player of the Year, but this was claimed by Connacht’s Jack Carty, who made his debut for Ireland in addition to becoming Connacht’s record points-scorer. Carty follows Connacht team-mate Bundee Aki in winning the public vote.
The Women’s XVs Player of the Year 2019, as voted by members of the Ireland squad, was presented to Ciara Griffin for several outstanding performances this season. Meanwhile, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe claimed the Women’s 7s Player of the Year for the third time, with Terry Kennedy taking home the Men’s 7s Player of the Year title.
Rugby Players Ireland also welcomed former Ireland full-back Conor O’Shea into the Hall of Fame at the awards gala. Darren Cave, who will be retiring at the end of the season, was awarded the Medal for Excellence, which rewards on-field effort combined with off-field commitment to the game. The Zurich Contribution to Irish Society Award, meanwhile, was presented to former Leinster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions hooker Shane Byrne in recognition of his tireless charitable work.
A public voted decreed that Ireland’s victory over New Zealand in November was the Rugby Moment of the Year, which was accepted by Peter O’Mahony on behalf of his teammates. Jacob Stockdale’s try in that game was also voted the Try of the Year.
ZURICH IRISH RUGBY PLAYERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2019
Winner: James Ryan (Leinster Rugby)
Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby)
Jack Carty (Connacht Rugby)
Peter O’Mahony (Munster Rugby)
James Ryan Leinster (Rugby)
NEVIN SPENCE YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2019
Winner: James Ryan (Leinster Rugby)
Jordan Larmour (Leinster Rugby)
James Ryan (Leinster Rugby)
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster Rugby)
WOMEN’S XVs PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2019
Winner: Ciara Griffin
WOMEN’S 7s PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2019
Winner: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe
MEN’S 7s PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Terry Kennedy
TRY OF YEAR 2019
Winner: Jacob Stockdale (Ireland v New Zealand)
Keith Earls (Ireland v France – Guinness Six Nations)
Jordan Larmour (Ireland v Italy – The Rugby Weekend, Chicago)
Jacob Stockdale (Ireland v New Zealand – Guinness November Series)
MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE 2019
Winner: Darren Cave (Ulster Rugby)
Darren Cave (Ulster Rugby)
Rhys Ruddock (Leinster Rugby)
James Tracy (Leinster Rugby)
RUGBY PLAYERS IRELAND HALL OF FAME 2019
Inducted: Conor O’Shea
SUPPORTERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2018
Winner: Jack Carty (Connacht Rugby)
MOMENT OF THE YEAR 2019
Winner: Ireland v New Zealand, as voted by the public across social media
ZURICH CONTRIBUTION TO IRISH SOCIETY 2019