Ireland’s men and women were honoured at the Rugby Players Ireland Awards in Dublin last night, while Ireland’s famous Chicago victory over New Zealand was named as the ‘Moment of the Year’.
Munster and Ireland’s Conor Murray was voted the Zurich Players’ Player of the Year for 2017 by his fellow players at the 15th annual Awards ceremony on Wednesday night. Murray, who was recently called up to Warren Gatland’s British & Irish Lions squad, has become integral for both province and country and is widely acknowledged as one of the best scrum halves in the world.
Murray, outstanding as Ireland claimed their first ever victory over New Zealand in Chicago, continued his fine form into the Six Nations, while he also fronted Munster’s march through the GUINNESS PRO12 season.
The Limerick man won the award ahead of his Munster team-mate CJ Stander and Leinster’s Robbie Henshaw, while Tadhg Furlong, who was also nominated, took home the Irish Times Supporters’ Player of the Year award
Meanwhile, Garry Ringrose was named as the Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year after cementing his place in the Irish midfield and further impressing for Leinster as they progressed to the latter stages of both domestic and European competition. The award was presented by Spence’s former teammate, Craig Gilroy.
On receiving his award, Murray commented: “It has been an incredible season and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed. We have had our challenges and some sad days along the way, but to have both Munster and Ireland performing at the highest level has been very satisfying.
“Being recognised in this way by my peers is special – I just hope that I can continue to do my job in the important games that are to come.”
All winners on the night received a Hugo Boss watch kindly provided by Hugo Boss and Fields Jewellers.
Joining a number of former international team-mates in the BNY Mellon Hall of Fame was former Leicester Tigers and Ireland full-back Geordan Murphy. Connacht’s Ronan Loughney, a member of the Rugby Players Ireland Executive Board, 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 award was presented to both Hannah Tyrrell and Jake Heenan in recognition of their work in their respective communities.
The BNY Mellon Women’s XVs Player of the Year – as voted by members of the Ireland Women’s squad – was presented to prop Lindsay Peat for several outstanding performances in what is a momentous year for the Women’s game in Ireland.
For the second year in a row, Tipperary flyer Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe claimed the Mason Alexander Women’s Sevens Player of the Year honour.
While both the men and women just fell short in their respective Six Nations campaigns, there were several moments throughout the season that will always be remembered fondly. However, members of the public determined that Ireland’s historic win over the All Blacks was the Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort Rugby Moment of the Year via Twitter. The award was collected by Donnacha Ryan who played a significant role in the Soldier Field triumph.
Simon Keogh, acting CEO of Rugby Players Ireland, commented: “Winning a Rugby Players Ireland award is one of the highest honours a player can receive in the game here in Ireland. There have been many great achievements by Irish players this year, but to be acknowledged by your team-mates and opponents in this manner shows just how much of an impact you have made throughout the season. I am thrilled for Conor who has enjoyed a fantastic season, reaching a level of consistency that few can match.”
Anthony Brennan, CEO of Zurich in Ireland, said: “I wish to extend my congratulations to all of those taking home prizes tonight – and to all of those who were nominated. 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 Rugby Players Ireland and the ‘Tackle Your Feelings’ campaign, which we hope will continue to improve our attitudes and approach to mental health here in Ireland.”
2017 RUGBY PLAYERS IRELAND AWARDS – LIST OF WINNERS:
ZURICH PLAYERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Winner: Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
Nominated: Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster), CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster)
NEVIN SPENCE YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Winner: Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster)
Nominated: Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Leinster), Darren Sweetnam (Cork Constitution/Munster)
VOLKSWAGEN TRY OF YEAR:
Winner: Robbie Henshaw (Ireland v New Zealand)
Nominated: Craig Gilroy (Ireland v Italy), Conor Murray (Ireland v New Zealand)
VODAFONE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE:
Winner: Ronan Loughney (Galwegians/Connacht)
Nominated: Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster)
BNY MELLON RUGBY PLAYERS IRELAND HALL OF FAME:
Geordan Murphy (Leicester Tigers/Ireland)
THE IRISH TIMES SUPPORTERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Winner: Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster)
Nominated: Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster), Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster), John Muldoon (Galwegians/Connacht), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster), Tiernan O’Halloran (Buccaneers/Connacht), Charles Piutau (Ulster), CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster)
DRUIDS GLEN HOTEL & GOLF RESORT MOMENT OF THE YEAR:
One Day in Chicago: Ireland 40 New Zealand 29
BNY MELLON WOMEN’S XVS PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Winner: Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster)
Nominated: Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster)
MASON ALEXANDER WOMEN’S SEVENS PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Winner: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster)
Nominated: Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster), Megan Williams (St. Mary’s)
ZURICH CONTRIBUTION TO IRISH SOCIETY:
Winners: Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster) & Jake Heenan (Connacht)