Munster and Ireland’s CJ Stander has been voted the Zurich IRUPA Players’ Player of the Year for 2016 by his fellow players at the 14th annual awards ceremony.
CJ Stander had an outstanding debut season for Ireland, earning his first cap in the opening Six Nations game against Wales where he was named man-of-the-match.
The strong-running back rower and Munster captain continued this rich vein of form for the remainder of the campaign, scoring his first international try against Italy. His performances did no go unnoticed by supporters either as he was also voted the Irish Times Supporters’ Player of the Year.
On receiving the Players’ Player of the Year award, Stander commented: “I’m delighted to win this award. Receiving recognition from my fellow peers is the ultimate accolade. I will remember this season fondly, from winning my first cap, to scoring my first international try and ultimately winning this award.”
Stander, as well as all the winners, receive a Casio watch kindly provided by Casio and Fields Jewellers.
Josh van der Flier was named the Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year after impressing all season for Leinster and excelling in his first outing for Ireland against England in the Six Nations.
Joining Ireland’s heroes in the BNY Mellon IRUPA Hall of Fame was Munster and Ireland star Ronan O’Gara. Leinster’s Isaac Boss was awarded the Vodafone Medal for Excellence, which rewards on field effort combined with off field commitment to the game.
The Zurich Contribution to Irish Society was presented to former Leinster player, Niall Breslin, in recognition of the massive impact he has made in raising awareness of mental health and various other charities.
The BNY Mellon Women’s Fifteens Player of the Year, as voted by members of the Ireland squad, was presented to another Ireland international debutant, Sene Naoupu, for her outstanding performances. The winner of the Women’s Sevens Player of the Year was Amee-Leigh Crowe who helped Ireland to get back on the World Series circuit.
In what has been a special season for Connacht, littered with outstanding performances, members of the public voted for the province’s first win over Munster in 29 years in Limerick as the Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa Rugby Moment of the Year via Twitter. The award was collected by Connacht centre Bundee Aki and head coach Pat Lam.
Omar Hassanein, CEO of IRUPA, congratulated all of the awards winners, saying: “Winning an IRUPA award is the highest honour a player can receive. All of the winners and nominees have the total respect of those who they play with and against. I am delighted for CJ, the award he received is a superb reflection of the fantastic season he has enjoyed with both Ireland and Munster Rugby.”
Conor Brennan, CEO of Zurich Insurance plc, Ireland, added: “Congratulations to all the winners – and to each of the finalists, too. The young men and women involved in rugby continue to be role models for so many people here in Ireland and true ambassadors for our country.
“Zurich is absolutely delighted to be sponsor of these awards, recognising achievements both on and off the pitch. We look forward to continuing our support of IRUPA and the Tackle Your Feelings campaign, which we hope will do a great deal to improve our attitudes and approach to mental health here in Ireland.”
2016 ZURICH IRISH RUGBY PLAYERS’ AWARDS:
ZURICH IRUPA PLAYERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: CJ Stander (Munster)
Nominations – Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), CJ Stander (Munster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Rory Best (Ulster)
NEVIN SPENCE YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Josh van der Flier (Leinster)
Nominations – Josh van der Flier (Leinster), Stuart McCloskey (Ulster), Garry Ringrose (Leinster)
VOLKSWAGEN TRY OF YEAR
Winner: Jamie Heaslip (Ireland v Italy, RBS 6 Nations)
Nominations – Craig Gilroy (Ulster v Scarlets, GUINNESS PRO12), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland v Italy, RBS 6 Nations), Matt Healy (Connacht v Grenoble, European Challenge Cup)
VODAFONE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE
Winner: Isaac Boss (Leinster)
Nominations – Isaac Boss (Leinster), Ronan Loughney (Connacht), John Muldoon (Connacht)
BNY MELLON IRUPA HALL OF FAME
Inducted: Ronan O’Gara (Munster)
IRISH TIMES SUPPORTERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: CJ Stander (Munster)
POWERSCOURT HOTEL RESORT & SPA MOMENT OF THE YEAR
Winner: Connacht’s victory over Munster at Thomond Park
BNY MELLON WOMEN’S FIFTEENS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Sene Naoupu
WOMEN’S SEVENS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Amee-Leigh Crowe
ZURICH CONTRIBUTION TO IRISH SOCIETY
Winner: Niall Breslin