Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Monday, 24 October 2011 10:17    PDF Print Write e-mail
Dusautoir, USA Rugby Get IRB Awards
International - International News

France captain Thierry Dusautoir has been named the IRB Player of the Year at the 2011 IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline, during a star-studded ceremony at Vector Arena in Auckland on Monday, and USA Rugby won the IRB's Development awards for their Rookie Rugby program.

Dusautoir is the second Frenchman to win the Award, following in the footsteps of former national team captain, Fabien Galthié, who claimed the accolade in 2002.

Thierry Dusautoir Monday.New Zealand were named IRB Team of the Year and Graham Henry IRB Coach of the Year, to add to the Rugby World Cup crown they claimed at Eden Park with a hard-fought 8-7 victory over the French on 23 October.

Dusautoir was outstanding all season for France, including in the World Cup and particularly the final where his defensive effort and ball-carrying inspired the French against the hosts. He was picked ahead of five other nominees – New Zealand scrum half Piri Weepu, flanker Jerome Kaino and centre Ma’a Nonu and Australia flanker David Pocock and scrum half Will Genia.

The winners were selected by the Awards’ independent panel of judges, chaired by Rugby World Cup-winner John Eales and made up of former internationals with more than 500 caps between them. The panel deliberated on every major Test match played this year, starting with the first Six Nations match and finishing with the Rugby World Cup 2011 Final.

The glittering event, which also celebrated 125 years of the International Rugby Board, was a fitting finale to what IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset described as an “exceptional” Rugby World Cup and was attended by all four semi-final teams, royalty and stars from sport and entertainment.

Earlier in the day, an estimated 240,000 fans turned up to catch a glimpse of the All Blacks who were last to arrive at the Vector Arena with the Webb Ellis Cup.

IRB Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Cecil Afrika, South Africa
Cecil Afrika was the outstanding player from the 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series and finished as the top try and point scorer. South Africa’s inspirational playmaker and sweeper, Afrika scored 40 tries and 385 points across seven events, returning from injury in double quick time to inspire the Blitzbokke to Cup success in Las Vegas, and was also key in their victories in London and Scotland.

IRB Junior Player of the Year – George Ford, England
George Ford becomes England’s first recipient of this Award after playing a key role in his country’s run to the IRB Junior World Championship 2011 final in Italy, where they ultimately lost 33-22 to New Zealand. The youngest player in the tournament at only 18 years and three months, Ford’s skills and vision belie his tender age, his maturity on the pitch giving the impression he always has options, more often than not taking the right one.

IRB Development Award – USA Rugby’s Rookie Rugby programme
Rookie Rugby was designed by USA Rugby to give young players between six and 12 years old a fun, safe and enjoyable sporting experience. It introduced a whole new raft of fans and athletes to the sport through programs administered through schools, community-based and state-based rugby organizations and USA Rugby national events. The initial aim was to introduce 100,000 new children to rugby but the reality has far outstripped that and continues to gather momentum. 

Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Jock Hobbs
Jock Hobbs was elected Chairman of the NZRU in 2002 and served with distinction, overseeing considerable success on and off the pitch while also securing New Zealand the right to host Rugby World Cup 2011. In December 2010 Hobbs stepped down from his position as Chairman of both the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and Rugby New Zealand (RNZ) 2011 Limited due to ill health but continues to be an inspirational presence in the country.

IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service in association with Emirates Airline – Keith Lawrence
Keith Lawrence refereed 14 international matches between 1985 and 1991 and went on to become an outstanding rugby administrator in the match official sphere. Lawrence worked as a Referee Manager both within his native New Zealand and for the International Rugby Board as Sevens Referee Manager, a role from which he retired earlier this year.

IRB Women’s Personality of the Year – Ruth Mitchell
Hailing originally from Liverpool in England, Ruth Mitchell played rugby in Hong Kong before becoming an administrator and ultimately reaching the post of Director of Development for the HKRFU. A driving force behind youth rugby, Mitchell has also been instrumental in growing the women's Game.

Spirit of Rugby Award – Wooden Spoon
The IRB recognised the work of the Wooden Spoon and its volunteers for more than 25 years of work with underprivileged children across the UK by awarding them with the IRB Spirit of Rugby Award The prestigious award recognises the incredible feats that can be achieved through Rugby both on and off the field and recognises those who, through selfless action, influence the lives of others, make significant contribution to their communities and demonstrate the force for good that sport can be in all areas of the world. Wooden Spoon is the first charity to receive such an accolade.

IRPA Try of the Year – Radike Samo, Australia v New Zealand
The final Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup match of 2011 between New Zealand and Australia in Brisbane was a breathless encounter won by the Wallabies, inspired on the day by Radike Samo. The Fijian-born 35-year-old forward received the ball on his own 10-metre line and shrugged off a couple of All Black defenders before outsprinting the cover defence to score a remarkable individual try.

IRPA Special Merit Award
Former captain George Smith is one of the greatest flankers ever to play for Australia and a veteran of 110 Tests for his country. Smith made his international debut against France in 2000 and played his final Test for the Wallabies against Wales nine years later. The 31-year-old has played for the Barbarians four times since, including earlier this year against England and Wales.

IRB Hall of Fame
Nineteen founders, pioneers and legends of Rugby World Cup have been inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame, including four men who made a major contribution to the creation of the tournament, the winning coach and captain of every edition from 1987 to 2007 and four players who have left an indelible mark for their moments of magic, inspiration or feats.

Full list of IRB Awards winners

IRB Player of the Year – Thierry Dusautoir

IRB Team of the Year – New Zealand

IRB Coach of the Year – Graham Henry

IRB Junior Player of the Year – George Ford, England

IRB Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Cecil Afrika, South Africa

IRB Women’s Personality of the Year – Ruth Mitchell

IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service – Keith Lawrence

Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Jock Hobbs

IRB Development Award – Rookie Rugby

IRB Spirit of Rugby Award – Wooden Spoon

IRPA Special Merit Award – George Smith, Australia

IRPA Try of the Year – Radike Samo, Australia v New Zealand

IRB Hall of Fame inductees – Dr Roger Vanderfield, Richard Littlejohn, Sir Nicholas Shehadie, John Kendall-Carpenter, David Kirk, Sir Brian Lochore, Nick Farr-Jones, Bob Dwyer, Francois Pienaar, Kitch Christie, Rod Macqueen, Martin Johnson CBE, Sir Clive Woodward OBE, John Smit, Jake White, Gareth Rees, Agustín Pichot, Brian Lima and Jonah Lomu.

Note: John Eales, the 1999-winning captain, was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2007.