O'Gara claims European Rugby honour
May 16, 2010
Munster veteran Ronan O'Gara has been named as the Heineken Cup's best ever player © Getty Images
Christian Califano Vincent Clerc Rocky Elsom Anthony Foley Rob Howley Yannick Jauzion Martin Johnson Josh Lewsey Geordan Murphy Brian O'Driscoll Ronan O'Gara Fabien Pelous William Servat David Wallace
Munster fly-half Ronan O'Gara has been named as the best player in Heineken Cup history as part of the celebrations to mark the landmark 15th season of European club rugby.
The 33-year-old Ireland international, who boasts two winners medals and has scored a tournament record 1,138 points, claimed the inuagural ERC European Player Award as the choice of the selection panel that comprised former Scotland and British & Irish Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan, ex-internationals Lawrence Dallaglio, Ieuan Evans, Fabien Galthie, Donal Lenihan, Michael Lynagh and Stuart Barnes along with journalists Stephen Jones and Jacques Verdier.
O'Gara was also selected in the ERC European Dream Team comprising the best players from the tournament in the past 15 years. Players from five nations and six different clubs made the line-up with Stade Français Paris prop forward Sylvain Marconnet the only player in the side not to have won a Heineken Cup winners medal. He reached the 2001 final with his club - while the Toulouse trio of Yannick Jauzion, Vincent Clerc and William Servat are all set to figure in the 15th tournament final against Biarritz Olympique at Stade de France on Saturday, May 22. The selectors also chose two players who have won both ERC tournaments, the Heineken Cup and the European Challenge Cup, in London Wasps backs Josh Lewsey and Rob Howley, while Australian Rocky Elsom is also the only southern hemisphere star after his one sensational season in Europe with 2009 Heineken Cup winners Leinster.
There was a unanimous decision from the panel when it came to selecting the best ERC European Coach Award. Guy Noves has been with Toulouse, and the Heineken Cup, from their first game on October 31, 1995 right through to the 2010 Heineken Cup final next weekend. In that time he has masterminded 77 victories and four draws in 109 European outings, led his team to six finals and won three of the five to date.
And the Cardiff Blues flanker Martyn Williams, who made his European debut for Pontypridd in 1996, is the winner of the ERC European Fair Play Award. The panel voted for him as it was widely felt that he is the embodiment of the player who upholds the values of the game of rugby in these European club competitions and in so doing is an inspirational role model as to how the game should be played.
ERC European Dream Team:
15. Geordan Murphy (Leicester Tigers)