The International Rugby Board has announced the shortlist of five nominees for the IRB Player of the Year award. The winner will be announced at the IRB Awards, which are in association with Emirates Airline, in London on November 23.
Scotland scrum half Mike Blair, New Zealand out-half and 2005 IRB Player of the Year Dan Carter, Italy back rower and captain Sergio Parisse and Wales pair Shane Williams and Ryan Jones have been nominated for rugby’s most prestigious award.
International Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The IRB Player of the Year Award is the ultimate accolade for a player and takes into account performances in all the major internationals played during the year including the RBS Six Nations, Tri Nations and the June-July Tests.
“The list of past winners of this coveted award is impressive and reads like a who’s who of the international game in recent years.
“Jonny Wilkinson, Schalk Burger, Richie McCaw, Fabien Galthie, Dan Carter, Bryan Habana and Keith Wood were all worthy recipients of the award, while Carter would be the first player to win twice should he be selected.”
The nominees were selected by the Awards’ independent panel of judges, comprising former internationals with over 500 Test caps between them.
The panel, which also votes on the IRB Team and Coach of the Year during the same period, has deliberated over every major Test this year.
Tana Umaga, Raphaël Ibanez, Will Greenwood, Francois Pienaar, Agustin Pichot, Gavin Hastings, Scott Quinnell, Paul Wallace and convenor John Eales watched over 47 hours of action from 35 matches, awarding points to the three players they thought stood out in each match.
“Now that the shortlist has been selected the panel will reconvene during the November Tests in the Northern Hemisphere when the IRB Player of the Year will be selected,” Lapasset added.
“The announcement will be made at the IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline in London on November 23, which is the most prestigious annual celebration of the international game.”
The IRB Player of the Year is one of 13 categories of awards that include the IRB Coach of the Year, IRB Team of the Year, IRB Sevens Player of the Year, IRB Junior Player of the Year and IRB Women’s Personality of the Year.
The event also recognises outstanding achievement and there are two awards run in conjunction with the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) – the IRPA Special Merit award and the IRPA Try of the Year.
During the IRB Awards, a total of five candidates will be inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame – two from the 19th Century, two from the 20th Century and one from the 21st Century.
Full list of categories:
IRB Player of the Year
IRB Coach of the Year
IRB Team of the Year
IRB Sevens Player of the Year
IRB Junior Player of the Year
IRB Hall of Fame
IRB Development Award
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service
IRB Women’s Personality of the Year
IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service, in association with Emirates Airline
Spirit of Rugby Award
IRPA Try of the Year
IRPA Special Merit Award