Cape Town – France captain, Thierry Dusautoir has scooped the 2011 International Rugby Board Player of the Year award at their gala event in Auckland's Vector Arena.
According to IRB’s official website, the Ivory Coast-born flank “claimed the biggest prize of the night for outstanding performances in 2011, culminating in a man-of-the-match performance in the final of RWC 2011.”
Dusautoir guided the much maligned France team to the final, falling two points shy of claiming their maiden World Cup crown and becomes the first Frenchman to win the award since Fabien Galthié in 2002.
He fought off fierce competition from fellow nominees: New Zealanders Piri Weepu, Jerome Kaino and Ma'a Nonu as well as Australia’s David Pocock and Will Genia.
Other winners of the award are: Richie McCaw (2010, 2009, 2006), Shane
Williams (2008), Bryan Habana (2007), Dan Carter (2005), Schalk Burger
(2004) and Jonny Wilkinson (2003).
Meanwhile. South African Sevens player, Cecil Afrika has won the IRB Sevens player of the Year award.
Afrika was the only South African representative in line to win a major award on the evening and “lit up the HSBC Sevens circuit with his combination of pace and vision.”
Newly crowned World Cup champions, New Zealand won the team of the Year award, with their outgoing coach, Graham Henry winning the Coach of the Year award for the fifth time in his eight year stint as All Blacks' coach.
Other notable awards to be handed out on the night went to Australia’s Radike Samo, winning the award for the try of the year for his effort against the All Blacks in the Tri Nations at the Suncorp Stadium.
Another Australian, former Australia back rower, George Smith received the IRPA Special Merit Award.
The IRB also inducted numerous individuals to their Hall of Fame, which included the late Kitch Christie, 1995 RWC winning captain Francois Pienaar, 2007 RWC winning captain John Smit along with then coach, Jake White.
Other notable inductees include Gareth Rees, Agustín Pichot, Brian Lima and Jonah Lomu having “left an indelible mark on rugby World Cup.”
The full list of IRB Awards winners are:
Player of the Year – Thierry Dusautoir
Team of the Year – New Zealand
Coach of the Year – Graham Henry
Junior Player of the Year – George
Sevens Player of the Year in
association with HSBC – Cecil Afrika, South Africa
Women’s Personality of the Year – Ruth
Referee Award for Distinguished Service
– Keith Lawrence
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service
– Jock Hobbs
Development Award – Rookie Rugby
Spirit of Rugby Award – Wooden Spoon
IRPA Special Merit Award – George Smith,
IRPA Try of the Year – Radike Samo,
Australia vs. New Zealand (Brisbane, August 27)
Hall of Fame inductees – Dr Roger
Vanderfield, Richard Littlejohn, Sir Nicholas Shehadie, John Kendall-Carpenter,
David Kirk, Sir Brian Lochore, Nick Farr-Jones, Bob Dwyer, Francois Pienaar,
Kitch Christie, Rod Macqueen, Martin Johnson CBE, Sir Clive Woodward OBE, John
Smit, Jake White, Gareth Rees, Agustín Pichot, Brian Lima and Jonah Lomu.