10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
These are the only awards voted for by the players themselves and votes are cast from across all four provinces.
Previous winners dominate the top category and amongst the favourites to land the coveted Bord Gáis Energy IRUPA Players' Player of the Year award are Tommy Bowe of the Ospreys, who won the title in 2008, Leinster number 8 Jamie Heaslip, winner of the Try of the Year Award last year, and Munster's Keith Earls.
Niall Woods, Chief Executive of IRUPA, said: "Winning an award voted for by players who you play and compete against is the best tribute for any rugby player.
"These awards celebrate not only those players but also raise much needed monies for the IRUPA Injured Players Fund."
Among the five other awards is the IRUPA Nature Valley Young Player of the Year award, contested this year by a feast of talented players including Scott Deasy and Keith Earls of Munster who face stiff competition from Connacht's Fionn Carr.
Carr has also been nominated in the IRUPA Volkswagen Try of the Year category for one of his tries against Leinster in the Magners League.
David Bunworth, MD of Bord Gáis Energy, said: "It's been another wonderful year for Irish rugby and Bord Gáis Energy is delighted to be supporting the IRUPA Rugby Awards once again.
"These are the only awards that allow rugby players to be acknowledged by their peers, which is perhaps the most meaningful kind of recognition a player can get.
"IRUPA is a terrific organisation and it's a tribute to its work that so many players get behind these annual awards and give their support to the IRUPA Injured Players Fund."
Following its success last year, rugby fans across Ireland can again vote for their Supporters' Player of the Year, only on Newstalk 106-108FM. The award will be presented to the winning player at the Bord Gáis Energy Awards.
Tune in to Newstalk 106-108FM from Monday, April 26 to vote and to be in with a chance to win a year's supply of Bord Gáis Electricity and also attend the event at the Burlington on Wednesday, May 12.
As a one-off additional accolade, IRUPA and O2 will announce the O2 Team of the Decade which reflects on 10 glorious years of Irish rugby.
The 15 members of the team will represent the best of Irish rugby over the last decade and as with the other awards, is nominated by the players themselves.
The O2 Team of the Decade will be announced at the awards night.