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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

O’Driscoll Honoured With IRPA Special Merit Award

O’Driscoll Honoured With IRPA Special Merit Award

Legendary Ireland centre and former captain Brian O’Driscoll was among the winners at last night’s World Rugby Awards at Battersea Evolution in London.

The World Rugby Awards at Battersea Evolution were a fitting finale to what World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset described as ‘the best ever Rugby World Cup’, and the ceremony was attended by all four semi-final teams and stars from sport and entertainment.

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Ireland great Brian O’Driscoll and Australia’s second row star Nathan Sharpe, two former Test captains who each represented their country more than 100 times, received Special Merit awards from the International Rugby Players Association.

O’Driscoll played 141 Tests for Ireland and the British & Irish Lions from 1999 to 2014, leaving a huge hole in the Irish midfield when he retired as the most-capped player in Test history last year.

Sharpe was a Rugby World Cup runner-up in 2003, just a decade after making his debut and he bowed out a decade later with 116 caps to his name.

Speaking about his fellow award winner, Brian said: “He’s been a real champion of the game, a great guy but a phenomenal player so to be able to share a moment like that with a player of his calibre makes it more special.”

Asked about this year’s World Cup and the eventual champions, he added: “It’s been an exceptional tournament. I’ve been involved in four myself and this definitely looks as though, from every perspective, that it’s eclipsed all of those.

“The World Cup just seems to be growing each four years and England’s done a magnificent job so there’s big pressure on Japan next time out and whoever takes the mantle¬†thereafter.

“(New Zealand were) not comfortable winners but I think they’re a good nose ahead of everyone else. People started questioning them ahead of the knockout stages when they weren’t putting cricket scores on Namibia and on Georgia, but when it comes to the knockout stages there is nobody quite as clinical as them. To score double the points that that Australian team did in the final was pretty impressive.”

Ireland Women’s lock Sophie Spence missed out on winning the World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year award. The second Irish player to be nominated after current captain Niamh Briggs was shortlisted for the 2014 award, Sophie was pipped to the global gong by New Zealand’s goal-kicking scrum half Kendra Cocksedge.

Spence, who is gearing up to play England at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday week, said afterwards: “A massive thank you to everyone for their support! It was a huge honour to be nominated and to be a part of an amazing rugby weekend. Congratulations to Kendra who is a great player.”

Dan Carter named World Rugby Player of the Year 2015

2015 WORLD RUGBY AWARDS – WINNERS:

World Rugby Player of the Year in association with MasterCard – Daniel Carter (New Zealand)
World Rugby Team of the Year – New Zealand
World Rugby Coach of the Year – Michael Cheika (Australia)
World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year – Kendra Cocksedge (New Zealand)
World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year – Nehe Milner-Skudder (New Zealand)
World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Werner Kok (South Africa)
World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year – Portia Woodman (New Zealand)
World Rugby Referee Award – Nigel Owens
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Nigel Starmer-Smith
Award for Character in association with Land Rover – Pakistan Rugby Union
Rugby World Cup Best Match Moment – Japan (v South Africa, RWC 2015)
IRPA Special Merit Award – Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) and Nathan Sharpe (Australia)
IRPA Try of the Year – Julian Savea, New Zealand (v France)