29 Nov 2009

McCaw wins IRB player of the year award

5:13 pm on 29 November 2009

The New Zealand captain Richie McCaw has been named the International Rugby Board player of the year, making the All Blacks star the first two-time winner of the award.

Outstanding flanker McCaw, who won the IRB award for the first time in 2006, beat Wales wing Shane Williams for the title.

The announcement of his latest honour came shortly after McCaw led the All Blacks to a 39-12 win over France in Marseille.

This year he saw off competition South Africa duo Francois Steyn and Fourie du Preez, Australia first five Matt Giteau, the Ireland pair of skipper Brian O'Driscoll and back-row Jamie Heaslip and England loose forward Tom Croft.

World champions South Africa took the team of the year award, having won the Tri-Nations title and defeated the British and Irish Lions 2-1 in a Test series in 2009.

Meanwhile, Declan Kidney was named coach of the year after overseeing Ireland's 2009 Six Nations grand slam - the team's first clean sweep of northern hemisphere rugby union's premier international tournament in 61 years.

Previous winners of the player of the year award include former Ireland hooker Keith Wood, who won the inaugural title in 2001, France's Fabien Galthie (2002), England's Jonny Wilkinson (2003), South Africa's Schalk Burger (2004), New Zealand's Dan Carter (2005) and South Africa's Bryan Habana (2007)