Big names set to gather for IRB awards
December 20, 2002

The 2nd International Rugby Board Awards Ceremony to be held in the Landmark Hotel, London on Sunday January 26th will be attended by many of the leading figures in the world game.

Three hundred invited guests from across the globe, including many of the world's leading players, coaches and administrators will attend the ceremony. It will be broadcasted by ITV and IRB's World of Rugby TV programme.

The award categories include - International Player of the Year (in association with Heineken) International Team of the Year and International Coach of the Year.

The nominees for Player of the Year are:

  • Richard McCaw
    The Canterbury Crusader burst into the international limelight in November 2001 with a man-of-the-match display for the All Blacks in their victory over Ireland in Dublin.

    Since then, he has been a key member of John Mitchell's side, rested only for the Test Matches against Italy and Fiji this season before returning for the Tri-nations campaign.

    McCaw's pedigree is undoubted. In 1999 he was part of the New Zealand side that won IRB/FIRA-AER U19 World Championship in Wales. He also shone in the 2001 U21 World Championship, now under the auspices of the IRB, before establishing himself as a regular in the Canterbury side later that year.

  • Brian O'Driscoll
    The Leinster centre found himself a marked man in 2002, following his match-winning performance for Ireland against France in Paris in 2000 and his brilliant try for the Lions in the first Test against Australia in 2001. However, a hat-trick of tries against Scotland proved that O'Driscoll remains one step ahead of opposing defences.

    He is also an outstanding presence in defence and has recently added another string to his bow by leading his country against Australia in Keith Wood's absence. Ireland's historic victory suggests that O'Driscoll skills are not limited to the sublime, but stretch to leadership as well.

  • Joe van Niekerk
    Van Niekerk is the epitome of South Africa's metamorphosis into a dynamic, expansive side. Yes, he is happy to involve himself in the tackle and the close quarters, but the Cats flanker's main weapon is his pace, as demonstrated by a terrific try against Samoa this year.

    Earlier this year 'Big Joe' won the SA Rugby Player of the Year award.

    Van Niekerk captained South Africa Schools in 1998 and represented his country the following year in the IRB/FIRA-AER U19 World Championship. As captain of the U21 side he was voted Player of the Tournament in a poll amongst referees.

    The nominees for U21 Player of the Year are: Pat Barnard (South Africa); Clyde Rathbone (South Africa) and Sam Tuitupou (New Zealand).

    The nominees for U19 Player of the Year are: New Zealanders Luke McAlister, Ben Atiga and Toby Morland.

    The nominees for Women's Player of the Year are: Monique Hirovanaa (New Zealand); Nathalie Amiel (France); and Cheryl Waaka (New Zealand).

    Other award categories include a Referees Award, Spirit of Rugby Award, Development Awards and Chairman's Awards. The award once again has been designed and created by Waterford Crystal.

    The Judging Panel consists of - Gerald Davies (Chairman of Judges) (Wales); Paul Ackford (England); Sean Fitzpatrick (New Zealand); Simon Poidevin (Australia); Hugo Porta (Argentina); Gareth Rees (Canada); Philippe Sella (France); Fergus Slattery (Ireland); David Sole (Scotland); Chester Williams (South Africa).

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