The IRB Awards panel comprises some of the biggest names in the Game with Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustín Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Paul Wallace having deliberated on every major Test played in 2011, starting with the opening RBS 6 Nations match and culminating with the RWC Final.
In total the panel have watched more than 100 hours of action, awarding points to the three players they thought stood out in each match. In order to recognise the importance of Rugby World Cup matches in determining the Player of the Year, an additional weighting has been applied to matches in the Tournament.
“This has been one of the closest years to date. In fact the result could be influenced significantly by the next two matches and that’s what it should be like in a World Cup year,” said panel chairman Eales.
The IRB Player of the Year is one of 12 Awards that will be presented at the star-studded ceremony at Vector Arena, the others include the IRB Coach of the Year, IRB Team of the Year, IRB Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC, IRB Junior Player of the Year and IRB Women’s Personality of the Year.
Previous winners of the IRB Player of the Year Award:
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)”