He collected half of the 12,000 votes, four times as many asteam-mate Paul O'Connell, who finished second to complete a great season inIreland's first Triple Crown since 1985.
England wing Ben Cohen pipped Wales full-back Gareth Thomas forthird, with France flanker Serge Betsen fifth.
D'Arcy admitted he was surprised to receive the award. "It was definitely not expected - kind of a bolt from theblue," he told BBC Sport. "It's flattering to win this award by such a large margin.What can I say?
"Since Christmas everything seems to have gone right, so towin something like this is the icing on the cake.
"Having played for Ireland before and not really made anyimpact, I know I have to work even harder now to stay where I am. I won't be driftingoff into obscurity this time."
D'Arcy dropped out of the Ireland set-up after making his debut asa teenager in 1999. But he got back on the straight and narrow and won arecall in January when captain Brian O'Driscoll was injured. And when O'Driscoll returned there was no way Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan could drop him. Instead he displaced long-serving KevinMaggs.
AFP - 2004