New Zealand swept the board in the IRB annual awards as captain Richie McCaw was named as Player of the Year for the third time, the All Blacks were made Team of the Year and Graham Henry picked up the top coaching accolade for a fourth time.
The 29-year-old McCaw is the first player to receive the prestigious accolade in consecutive years, as well as three times, cementing his position as one of the greats of the game.
The 2001 British & Irish Lions coach Henry had previously been named IRB Coach of the Year in 2005, 2006 and 2008 and his New Zealand side were named IRB Team of the Year for the fourth time in six years.
McCaw faced stiff competition for the Player of the Year Award with teammate Mils Muliaina, South Africa's Victor Matfield, Imanol Harinordoquy from France and rising young Australia stars David Pocock and Kurtley Beale all performing superbly during the year.
However, it was McCaw, who captained the world’s number one ranked team to a record of 13 wins from 14 matches during 2010, including a Tri-Nations title and a Grand Slam tour of Europe, that consistently impressed the IRB’s Awards Panel with some outstanding performances to cement his stature as one of Rugby’s great leaders.
“It's been a good year and everyone has made a huge effort, from the coaches right through all the players. It's been a lot of fun as well to work with quality players, and I just love playing Rugby and especially international Rugby,” said McCaw, along with Muliaina now the most capped All Black of all time.
“This Award is very special but wouldn’t happen without an exceptional team who are good mates, and that’s something I am equally proud of.”
IRB Coach of the Year Graham Henry added: “I am very proud to be awarded this honour again. The Award reflects the hard work of the team, and I am delighted the All Blacks have also been named IRB Team of the Year."
"It is also an Award for Team Manager Darren Shand who does a fabulous job, and for the exceptional coaching team who work with me. I am extremely fortunate to have a group of guys who are exceptionally good at what they do.”
“Richie is a phenomenal captain. He just gets better and better the more he does it and the team now is a very experienced side with him and Mils on 94 caps each, and nine players in the side with more than 50 caps.”
The latest list of accolades cap a phenomenal year for New Zealand Rugby with Julian Savea winning the IRB Junior Player of the Year in June and Carla Hohepa named IRB Women’s Personality of the Year in September after a magnificent Women’s Rugby World Cup.
The other IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline to be presented in 2010 include Samoa’s Mikaele Pesamino as the IRB Sevens Player of the Year in May, IRB Development Award winner Brian O’Shea in October and Colin High, who received as the IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service last month. The Spirit of Rugby Award was presented on Saturday to Virreyes Rugby Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
IRB Player of the Year
2010 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2009 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2008 – Shane Williams (Wales)
2007 – Bryan Habana (South Africa)
2006 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2005 – Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2004 – Schalk Burger (South Africa)
2003 – Jonny Wilkinson (England)
2002 – Fabien Galthié (France)
2001 – Keith Wood (Ireland)
IRB Team of the Year
2010 – New Zealand
2009 – South Africa
2008 – New Zealand
2007 – South Africa
2006 – New Zealand
2005 – New Zealand
2004 – South Africa
2003 – England
2002 – France
2001 – Australia
IRB Coach of the Year
2010 – Graham Henry (New Zealand)
2009 – Declan Kidney (Ireland)
2008 – Graham Henry (New Zealand)
2007 – Jake White (South Africa)
2006 – Graham Henry (New Zealand)
2005 – Graham Henry (New Zealand)
2004 – Jake White (South Africa)
2003 – Clive Woodward (England)
2002 – Bernard Laporte (France)
2001 – Rod Macqueen (Australia)