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Earls And Molloy Lead The Winners At Irish Rugby Players Awards

Earls And Molloy Lead The Winners At Irish Rugby Players Awards

Munster and Ireland winger Keith Earls was awarded the title of Zurich Players’ Player of the Year for 2018 by his fellow players at tonight’s Zurich Irish Rugby Awards ceremony.

In Pics: 2018 Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards

Keith Earls, who made his debut for Ireland in 2008, enjoyed a stellar season for both province and country and has been widely praised by his peers for his dedication and hard work throughout his career.

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He was outstanding as Ireland won their third Grand Slam in March, and he was also instrumental for Munster as they progressed to the latter stages of both the Champions Cup and GUINNESS PRO14. The 30-year-old wins the award ahead of last year’s winner Conor Murray, and Leinster’s Jonathan Sexton and Tadhg Furlong.
 
Meanwhile, Jacob Stockdale was named the Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year. The Ulster winger, who is now the record try scorer in a Six Nations campaign, first came to prominence in an Ireland jersey following several try-scoring performances last November. In claiming the award, Stockdale came in ahead of strong competition in the form of Leinster duo James Ryan and Jordan Larmour.


 
On receiving his award, Earls commented: “It has been a great season with many special memories for me. For all the successes, there were some challenges along the way too and so it means a lot to get the recognition of my fellow players across the country. I’ve given it my all, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my team-mates, friends and of course my family.”
 
The BNY Mellon Women’s 15s Player of the Year, as voted by members of the Ireland Women’s squad, was presented to flanker Claire Molloy for several outstanding performances throughout the season. Ireland Women’s Sevens captain Lucy Mulhall claimed the Rugby Players Ireland IRFU Women’s Sevens Player of the Year award just a few days after leading the current squad to their best ever World Series finish at the Canada 7s in Langford.


 
The Mason Alexander Supporters’ Player of the Year, as voted by the public, was presented to Connacht’s Bundee Aki. The powerful centre, who was an integral part of Connacht’s historic PRO12 title success in 2016, had another outstanding season, putting in top class performances for both Connacht and Ireland.
 
Many of Ireland’s Grand Slam heroes were present at the Clayton Hotel on the Burlington Road for what was a celebration of momentous season for Irish rugby on the field. Irish rugby legends showed their support attending in great numbers, while several of Leinster’s newly crowned European champions were also amongst the guests. All of the winners on the night received a Seiko watch kindly provided by Fields Jewellers.   
 
Joining Ireland’s heroes in the BNY Mellon Hall of Fame was former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll. Duncan Casey, who departed Munster for Grenoble in recent months, 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 honour was presented to Jack McGrath in recognition of his work in his community. While there were several moments throughout the season that will always be remembered fondly, members of the public determined that Ireland’s Grand Slam-clinching victory over England was the Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort Rugby Moment of the Year via Twitter.


 
Simon Keogh, CEO of Rugby Players Ireland, said: “Winning a Zurich Irish Rugby Players 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 a player has made throughout the season. I am thrilled for Keith who has had a fantastic season, and many before that.”
 
Anthony Brennan, CEO of Zurich in Ireland, added: “I wish to extend my congratulations to all of our worthy winners tonight – and to all of those who were nominated. Zurich is delighted to sponsor these awards, recognising the achievements of Irish rugby players in what has been a remarkable season for the sport at a national and provincial level.

“We look forward to continuing our support of Rugby Players Ireland and the ‘Tackle Your Feelings’ campaign, which encourages people to look after their mental well-being, with the support of some of Irish rugby’s most influential names to inspire and help others.”

2018 ZURICH IRISH RUGBY PLAYERS AWARDS – LIST OF WINNERS:
 
ZURICH PLAYERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Winner: Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
Nominees: Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster), Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster), Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)

NEVIN SPENCE YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Winner: Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Nominees: Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), James Ryan (UCD/Leinster), Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch/Ulster)

BNY MELLON WOMEN’S 15s PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Winner: Claire Molloy (Bristol)
Nominees: Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol)

WOMEN’S SEVENS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Winner: Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum)
Nominees: Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster), Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster), Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum)

VOLKSWAGEN TRY OF THE YEAR

Winner: CJ Stander – Ireland v England (NatWest 6 Nations)
Nominees: Andrew Conway – Munster v Toulon (Champions Cup), Jacob Stockdale – Ireland v Wales, first try (NatWest 6 Nations), CJ Stander – Ireland v England (NatWest 6 Nations)

VODAFONE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE

Winner: Duncan Casey (Grenoble)
Nominees: Duncan Casey (Grenoble), Jake Heenan (Connacht), Rhys Ruddock (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)

BNY MELLON RUGBY PLAYERS IRELAND HALL OF FAME

Inducted: Brian O’Driscoll
 
MASON ALEXANDER SUPPORTERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Winner: Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) as voted by the public via www.rugbyplayersireland.ie

DRUIDS GLEN HOTEL & GOLF RESORT MOMENT OF THE YEAR

Winner: ‘The Grand Slam’ as voted by the public on Twitter @druidsglen #DruidsMoment18 
 
ZURICH CONTRIBUTION TO IRISH SOCIETY

Winner: Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)

For further information on the Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards, please visit rugbyplayersireland.ie or follow Rugby Players Ireland on Twitter and Facebook.