Leinster and Ireland lock James Ryan has been named the Players’ Player of the Year at the 2019 Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards in Dublin.
The 22-year-old Ryan has maintained a formidable presence for both province and country through the season and beat of stiff competition from Tadhg Beirne, Jack Carty and Peter O’Mahony to claim last night’s main award at the ceremony, which was held at the Clayton Hotel on Burlington Road.
Just a few days on from Leinster’s Heineken Champions Cup final defeat to Saracens, the young Dubliner was further acknowledged by his peers who voted him the Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year ahead of his Leinster colleague Jordan Larmour and Jacob Stockdale, last year’s winner of the award.
Giving his reaction, Ryan said:
It’s always nice to win awards, but tonight has been particularly special in that I am being recognised by my teammates and opponents. I have many great memories of the season but there have also been plenty of learnings that I will take with me into the future. A special word of thanks to my family who continue to guide me through what has been a fairly hectic rugby career to date.”
Ryan was also nominated for the Virgin Media Sport Supporters’ Player of the Year, but this was claimed by Jack Carty who has enjoyed an outstanding season, winning his first Ireland caps in addition to becoming Connacht’s record points scorer. All of the winners on the night received a Hugo Boss watch kindly provided by Fields Jewellers.
Other winners on the night included Ireland Women’s captain Ciara Griffin, who took home the BNY Mellon Women’s 15s Player of the Year award. Prolific try scorer Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, who captained Ireland at the Canada Sevens last weekend, was honoured as the iZest Marketing Women’s Sevens Player of the Year for a third time, while fellow flying winger Terry Kennedy was acknowledged as the AIB Corporate Banking Men’s Sevens Player of the Year.
Retiring Ulster star Darren Cave was a very worthy recipient of the Vodafone Medal for Excellence, which rewards on-field effort combined with off-field commitment to the game. Former Leinster, Ireland and Lions hooker Shane Byrne was presented with the Zurich Contribution to Irish Society award in recognition of his tireless charitable work.
Meanwhile, Italy head coach Conor O’Shea was inducted into the BNY Mellon Hall of Fame, and members of the public voted for Ireland’s historic win over New Zealand in November as the Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort Rugby Moment of the Year with Peter O’Mahony picking up the award on behalf of the team.
Jacob Stockdale’s individual moment of brilliance with his unforgettable chip-and-collect score against the All Blacks was picked out as the Volkswagen Try of the Year, edging out Jordan Larmour’s superb sidestepping effort against Italy in Chicago and Keith Earls’ slick effort against France via CJ Stander’s inside pass.
CEO of Rugby Players Ireland, Simon Keogh, paid tribute to all the awards winners following the event, stating:
Winning a Zurich Irish Rugby Players award is the highest honour an individual player can receive in Ireland. To be acknowledged by your team-mates and opponents in this manner goes some way to justifying the sacrifices that are required to make it at the top-level of the game. James Ryan has enjoyed a fantastic season, as have all those who have won awards tonight.”
You can watch a one-hour special on the awards, hosted by Joe Molloy, on Virgin Media One on Friday night at 10pm. It will be shown again on Virgin Media One and Virgin Media Sport over the weekend.
2019 ZURICH IRISH RUGBY PLAYERS AWARDS – LIST OF WINNERS & NOMINEES:
ZURICH PLAYERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: James Ryan
BNY MELLON WOMEN’S 15s PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Ciara Griffin
NEVIN SPENCE YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: James Ryan
VOLKSWAGEN TRY OF YEAR
Keith Earls (Ireland v France, Guinness Six Nations)
Jordan Larmour (Ireland v Italy Try 3, The Rugby Weekend, Chicago)
Winner: Jacob Stockdale (Ireland v New Zealand, Guinness November Series)
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT SUPPORTERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Jack Carty
DRUIDS GLEN HOTEL & GOLF RESORT MOMENT OF THE YEAR
Winner: Ireland v New Zealand – voted by the public on Twitter using #DruidsMoment19
Ireland Men’s Sevens World Series Qualification
Ireland Under-20s’ Six Nations Grand Slam
VODAFONE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE
Winner: Darren Cave
iZEST WOMEN’S SEVENS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe
AIB CORPORATE BANKING MEN’S SEVENS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Terry Kennedy
BNY MELLON RUGBY PLAYERS IRELAND HALL OF FAME
ZURICH CONTRIBUTION TO IRISH SOCIETY