Brian O'Driscoll, Chairman of IRUPA, said: "Winning an IRUPA award, which is voted for by the players who you play with and against, is the best mark of respect for any rugby player.
"The Player of the Year award itself is particularly well regarded, as it rewards consistency over the entire year in both the international and provincial game."
The award is one of seven which will be announced at the annual IRUPA Awards on Wednesday, May 9 at Dublin's Burlington Hotel.
Among the other awards is the IRUPA Nature Valley Young Player of the Year award, contested this year by a feast of talented players including Ulster's Craig Gilroy, Leinster's Ian Madigan and Peter O'Mahony from Munster.
Gilroy is also nominated for the IRUPA Volkswagen Try of the Year for his score against Munster in the Heineken Cup.
2012 will also see the inaugural IRUPA Hibernia College Medal for Excellence which will be awarded to the individual who demonstrates exceptional commitment to the game of rugby both on and off field.
This is a player who matches their playing and training with team support, studies, work, mentoring, charity and community involvement.
Players across the provinces voted for Leinster's Shane Jennings, Connacht's Ronan Loughney and Munster's Mick O'Driscoll as the first nominees for this award.
For the first time, you can now vote for the IRUPA O2 Unsung Hero Award Thanks to O2, you can view and vote for your favourite on www.o2.ie/rugby Voting is open until the 4th May and the winner will be announced at the 2012 Awards Ceremony on Wednesday 9th May.
Rugby fans across Ireland can again vote for their Supporters' Player of the Year on Newstalk106-108fm.
Tune into 'Off the Ball' on Newstalk106-108fm from Monday, April 25 to vote, and to be in with a chance to attend the event at the Burlington. The award will be presented to the winning player at the IRUPA Awards.
2012 IRUPA PLAYERS' PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Stephen Ferris (Ulster)
Rob Kearney (Leinster)
Ronan O'Gara (Munster)
2012 IRUPA NATURE VALLEY YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Craig Gilroy - Munster v Ulster, Heineken Cup
Brian O'Driscoll - Leinster v Cardiff Blues, Heineken Cu
Niall Ronan - Scarlets v Munster, Heineken Cup
2012 IRUPA HIBERNIAN COLLEGE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE:
Shane Jennings (Leinster)
Ronan Loughney (Connacht)
Mick O'Driscoll (Munster)
2012 IRUPA HALL OF FAME:
Recipient announced on Wednesday, May 2
2012 IRUPA O2 UNSUNG HERO:
You can view and vote for the IRUPA O2 Unsung Hero on www.o2.ie/rugby. Voting is open until Friday, May 4 and the winner will be announced at the IRUPA Awards on Wednesday, May 9
2012 IRUPA NEWSTALK SUPPORTERS' PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
The Supporters' Player of the Year, as voted by listeners of Newstalk106-108fm, will be announced at the IRUPA Awards on Wednesday, May 9
Related Links -