New Zealand All Blacks Rugby News

All Blacks sweep players’ choice awards



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The All Blacks’ domination of world rugby was acknowledged on Wednesday by the announcement of the 2006 IRPA (International Rugby Players’ Association) awards. New Zealand collected all three of the major awards.

The awards are voted for by the international squads of South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, France, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and the results show the international respect given to this current All Black side.

New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw has won the coveted IRPA Player of the Year award. McCaw was one of the instrumental figures in the Tri-Nations series win for the All Blacks and having finished second in this award last year to Daniel Carter, justifiably collects the award this year.

McCaw, who continues to grow in stature as a test skipper, said: “It’s special to be acknowledged by your peers, and I’m really grateful for that. The All Blacks have had a good season and my team mates are part of this award too.”

In addition, New Zealand has been voted the IRPA Team of the Year, edging out France for the title. Graham Henry’s All Blacks have built a formidable reputation over the past couple of years. Victories over Ireland and Argentina in June were followed by an emphatic victory in the Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cups and the team will run out at Cardiff on Saturday looking for another unbeaten European tour.

Head coach Graham Henry said of the award: “We have a special group of players in the All Blacks right now, and they are all working for each other which gives us a great strength as a team. Our management group deserves credit too, along with our administrators and sponsors who are right in behind the All Blacks. We have a great deal of support for what we’re doing.”

The IRPA Newcomer of the Year award has been awarded to New Zealand’s line-out winning lock Jason Eaton who burst onto the international scene at the end of 2005, prior to playing any Super rugby. Eaton has cemented his place in the very competitive All Blacks squad in 2006 and has now made nine test appearances.

Eaton impressed his fellow international players as a true line-out-winning lock that can secure his own throws and steal opposition ball. He is a mobile player who shows excellent speed for a second-rower and good skills with the ball in hand.

On receiving the award, Eaton said he was “honoured” and that he “hopes that there is more to come” from him.

“There’s a lot of competition for places in the All Blacks right now and my first goal will be to play my way back in again next year.”

IRPA consists of the national players associations of all their member countries, and players are not allowed to vote for their own countrymen.

Each year the players honour the top stars of the game. This year undoubtedly belongs to New Zealand.


365 Digital

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