New Zealand captain Richie McCaw won the top prize at the IRB Awards in Glasgow, Scotland

McCaw named IRB Player of the Year

The International Rugby Board today announced that Richie McCaw has been named IRB Player of the Year. The All Blacks captain scooped the top individual accolade at the IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline, held this year at the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland.

On an evening of celebration and reflection, New Zealand Rugby won a hat-trick of awards with the All Blacks named IRB Team of the Year for the second consecutive year and head coach Graham Henry winning the IRB Coach of the Year award.

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The All Blacks have been the outstanding team in 2006 and will finish the year at number one in the IRB World Rankings – a position they have occupied since June 2004. Last year’s IRB Player of the Year Daniel Carter was again instrumental in the All Blacks’ success and was short-listed for the top prize again this time, however, the outstanding leadership and inspirational performances of skipper Richie McCaw was a key feature of New Zealand’s supremacy during the year.

The IRB Player of the Year award was considered by a panel of former rugby legends with 503 caps between them including Jonathan Davies, Keith Wood, Will Greenwood and Fabien Galthie, chaired by double Rugby World Cup winner John Eales. All major Test matches during 2006 were considered with Australia's Chris Latham, South Africa's Fourie du Preez and Ireland lock Paul O'Connell all short-listed alongside McCaw and Carter for the prestigious award.
 
The IRB Awards also recognise the future stars of the Game and France's outstanding young fly half Lionel Beauxis was named IRB Under 21 Player of the Year after starring in his country's triumph in the Under 21 World Championship on home soil this year, while Australia’s Josh Holmes was named IRB Under 19 Player of the Year after a string of outstanding performances for his country on the way to the Under 19 World Championship title in Dubai.

The award for IRB Sevens Team of the Year went to 2005/06 IRB Sevens Series winners and current Rugby World Cup Sevens champions Fiji, while Samoa's captain Uale Mai was named Sevens Player of the Year.
 
The IRB International Women's Personality of the Year was awarded to England flanker Margaret Alphonsi and the IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service went to recently retired test official Peter Marshall.
 
The Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished service went to former All Black captain Brian Lochore, the IRB Development Award was given to Mike Luke, the Spirit of Rugby Award was presented to Bali bombings victim Polly Miller in recognition of her charity work for other burns victims since the atrocities.

IRB Hall of Fame

The glittering ceremony also saw the  announcement of the inaugural inductees into the IRB Hall of Fame  that was launched during the Awards ceremony . The IRB Hall of Fame has been established to chronicle the achievements and the special contribution of Rugby’s players, coaches, administrators, match officials, institutions and individuals . Inductees will be announced annually at the IRB Awards. 

To  commemorate the establishment of the IRB Hall of Fame and to recognise the proud history and traditions of the Game, including its origins,  William Webb Ellis and Rugby School  were enrolled into the Hall of Fame.  Accepting the Award on behalf of the school and its most famous pupil was Headmaster Patrick Denham.

IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline – 2006 winners
 
IRB International Player of the Year: Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
 
IRB International Team of the Year: New Zealand
 
IRB International Coach of the Year: Graham Henry (New Zealand)
 
IRB International U19 Player of the Year: Josh Holmes (Australia)
 
IRB International U21 Player of the Year: Lionel Beauxis (France)
 
IRB International Sevens Team of the Year: Fiji
 
IRB International Sevens Player of the Year: Uale Mai (Samoa)
 
Spirit of Rugby Award: Polly Miller
 
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service: Brian Lochore
 
IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service: Peter Marshall
 
IRB International Women's Personality of the Year: Margaret Alphonsi

IRB Development Award: Mike Luke

IRB Hall of Fame inductees: William Webb Ellis and Rugby School