Leinster and Ireland lock James Ryan was named the Players’ Player of the Year last night at the 2019 Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards in Dublin.
The 22-year-old Ryan beat off stiff competition from Tadhg Beirne, Jack Carty and Peter O’Mahony to claim last night’s main award at the ceremony, which was held at the Clayton Hotel on Burlington Road.
Just a few days on from Leinster’s Heineken Champions Cup final defeat to Saracens, the young Dubliner was further acknowledged by his peers who voted him the Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year ahead of his Leinster colleague Jordan Larmour and Jacob Stockdale, last year’s winner of the award.
“It’s always nice to win awards,” said Ryan, “but tonight has been particularly special in that I am being recognised by my teammates and opponents.”
“I have many great memories of the season but there have also been plenty of learnings that I will take with me into the future. A special word of thanks to my family who continue to guide me through what has been a fairly hectic rugby career to date.”
Ryan was also nominated for the Virgin Media Sport Supporters’ Player of the Year, but this was claimed by Jack Carty who has enjoyed an outstanding season, winning his first Ireland caps in addition to becoming Connacht’s record points scorer.
Other winners on the night included Ireland Women’s captain Ciara Griffin, who took home the BNY Mellon Women’s 15s Player of the Year award. Prolific try scorer Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, who captained Ireland at the Canada Sevens last weekend, was honoured as the iZest Marketing Women’s Sevens Player of the Year for a third time, while fellow flying winger Terry Kennedy was acknowledged as the AIB Corporate Banking Men’s Sevens Player of the Year.
Retiring Ulster star Darren Cave was a very worthy recipient of the Vodafone Medal for Excellence, which rewards on-field effort combined with an off-field commitment to the game. Former Leinster, Ireland and Lions hooker Shane Byrne was presented with the Zurich Contribution to Irish Society award in recognition of his tireless charitable work.
Italy head coach Conor O’Shea was inducted into the BNY Mellon Hall of Fame, and members of the public voted for Ireland’s historic win over New Zealand in November as the Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort Rugby Moment of the Year with Peter O’Mahony picking up the award on behalf of the team.
Jacob Stockdale’s individual moment of brilliance with his unforgettable chip-and-collect score against the All Blacks was picked out as the Volkswagen Try of the Year, edging out Jordan Larmour’s superb sidestepping effort against Italy in Chicago and Keith Earls’ slick effort against France via CJ Stander’s inside pass.
All of the winners on the night received a Hugo Boss watch kindly provided by Fields Jewellers.
Virgin media One will broadcast a one-hour special on the awards, hosted by Joe Molloy, on Friday night at 10 pm. It will be shown again on Virgin Media One and Virgin Media Sport over the weekend.