Munster out-half Ronan O’Gara’s efforts in helping his native province win two Heineken Cup titles and qualify for twelve successive quarter-finals have seen him become the inaugural recipient of the prestigious ERC European Player Award.
Many of the greatest names in rugby’s professional era have been included among the ERC European Award winners as part of the celebrations of the landmark 15th season of European club rugby.
This year ERC, the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup organisers, have conferred the following European Awards.
ERC15 – European Club Rugby Award Categories:
• ERC European Player Award
• ERC European Coaching Award
• ERC European Fair Play Award
• ERC European Dream Team – (Best fiften players from European club competitions over the past 15 years)
Munster’s long-serving number 10 Ronan O’Gara, who has scored a Heineken Cup record 1,138 points in 91 appearances, is the only double winner, becoming the first ever ERC European Player Award winner and a member of the ERC European Dream Team selection.
The nine-man ERC15 selector panel of Sir Ian McGeechan, Lawrence Dallaglio, Ieuan Evans, Fabien Galthie, Donal Lenihan, Michael Lynagh, Stuart Barnes, Stephen Jones and Jacques Verdier deliberated long and hard to come up with the elite and honour the ERC European Dream Team of the past 15 years.
They were also charged with selecting the best ERC European Player of the last 15 years, the top ERC European Coach over the same period and choosing a winner for the ERC Fair Play Award.
There was a unanimous decision from the panel when it came to selecting the best ERC European Coach Award. Guy Noves has been with Toulouse, and the Heineken Cup, from their first game on October 31, 1995 right through to the 2010 Heineken Cup final next weekend.
In that time he has masterminded 77 victories and four draws in 109 European outings, led his team to six finals and won three of the five to date.
Meanwhile, Cardiff Blues flanker Martyn Williams, who made his European debut for Pontypridd in 1996, has been announced as the winner of the ERC European Fair Play Award.
The panel voted for him as it was widely felt that he is the embodiment of the player who upholds the values of the game of rugby in these European club competitions and, in so doing, is an inspirational role model as to how the game should be played.
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