IRB Awards
Dusautoir crowned IRB Player of Year
ESPNscrum Staff
October 24, 2011

France skipper Thierry Dusautoir has been named the International Rugby Board's Player of the Year at an awards ceremony at Vector Arena in Auckland on Monday.

The French flanker, who led his side in defeat to New Zealand in the World Cup Final on Sunday, beat off competition from All Blacks Ma'a Nonu, Piri Weepu and Jerome Kaino, and Australians David Pocock and Will Genia to land the award.

The 29-year-old succeeds All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw, who has won the accolade for the past two years, and is only the second Frenchman to win the award after scrum-half Fabien Galthie was named the top international player in 2002.

Following the All Blacks' 8-7 victory in the World Cup Final at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand were named Team of the Year while Graham Henry won the Coach of the Year award.

The winners were selected by an 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, from the first Six Nations match up to Sunday's showpiece.

The glittering awards ceremony, which also celebrated 125 years of the IRB, was a fitting finale to what the organisation's chairman Bernard Lapasset described as an "exceptional" World Cup.

England's George Ford was named IRB Junior Player of the Year, becoming his country's first recipient of the award after playing a key role in his team's run to the Junior World Championship 2011 final in Italy, where they lost 33-22 to New Zealand. The 18-year-old, who also helped England to a Grand Slam in the Six Nations, beat off competition from New Zealand duo Sam Cane and Luke Whitelock to land the award.

Elsewhere, South Africa's Cecil Afrika picked up the IRB Sevens Player of the Year accolade, Radike Samo's remarkable individual score for Australia in the final Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup match against New Zealand was named International Rugby Players' Association try of the year, and former Australia captain George Smith received the IRPA special merit award.

Former All Blacks winger Jonah Lomu, who was recently discharged from hospital after suffering further kidney trouble, is among those inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame alongside Englishmen Sir Clive Woodward and current coach Martin Johnson.

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

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)

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