Ireland Head Coach Joe Schmidt was honoured by the Rugby Writers of Ireland at the annual Guinness Rugby Writers Awards held at the Guinness Storehouse, being awarded the prestigious Tom Rooney award in recognition of his immense contribution to Irish Rugby.
First appointed to the Leinster Head Coaching role ahead of the 2010/2011 season Schmidt has made a huge impact in the nine seasons he has been coaching in Ireland.
During his tenure with the province, Leinster were crowned European champions in 2011 and 2012, adding the 2013 Challenge Cup and Guinness PRO12 double in his final season.
Schmidt took up the reins with Ireland in 2013. Over the course of the next six years, Ireland have enjoyed their unprecedented success, claiming three Guinness Six Nations Championship titles including a 2018 Grand Slam. They secured their first series wins in Argentina (2014) and Australia (2018), a first victory on South African soil in June 2016 and victory against the All Blacks in Chicago in November of that year.
Twelve months later, his team made further history recording a first home victory against New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium. In November 2018 he became only the second Irish coach to be named World Rugby Coach of the Year.
Ireland and Leinster second-row James Ryan was named the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Men’s Player of the Year, in recognition of another outstanding season in which he cemented his reputation as one of the best second-rows in the world with a series of outstanding performances for club and country.
Ireland, Munster & UL Bohemian back-row Ciara Griffin was recognised as the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Women’s Player of the Year. The Kerry native and back-row Griffin played in all of Ireland Six Nations games where her on-field performances coupled with her leadership as captain ensuring she was the stand-out player for the Irish women last season.
The Irish U-20 Men were awarded the Dave Guiney Guinness Rugby Writers Team of the Year following their incredible Grand Slam in the Six Nations Championship. This is the first year that awards were given to Ireland’s Sevens Players. Jordan Conroy was named the inaugural Men’s Sevens Player of the Year whilst Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe is the first Women’s Sevens Player of the Year. Amee-Leigh was the top try scorer in the 2018/19 Women’s World Series and was named in the Women’s World Series Dream Team. Jordan’s try-scoring helped secure the Ireland’s men’s team a place on the World Series next year.
Cork Constitution, who emerged as 2019 All Ireland League Champions, were named Guinness Rugby Writers Club of the Year. The club enjoyed an incredible season with the Senior XV winning 23 of their 26 matches claiming the All-Ireland League, Munster Senior Cup and the Cork Charity Cup.
British & Irish Lion, Ireland, Munster and Dolphin’s Michael Kiernan was inducted into the Guinness Rugby Writers Hall of Fame. Kiernan, who played for Ireland 43 times, was a member of the Irish team that won the Triple Crown in 1982 and 1985. Best remembered for his famous drop goal in Lansdowne Road that secured victory against England to win the 1985 Triple Crown, Kiernan toured with the British and Irish Lions to New Zealand in 1983 and was a member of Ireland’s team at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987.
“Guinness is a long-time partner and supporter of Irish Rugby at all levels of the game,” said Rory Sheridan, Head of Partnerships for Diageo Europe.
“Rugby is a sport that in all its formats embodies community and camaraderie both of which are of immense importance to us at Guinness. We are delighted to be recognising some of the greats of the game both past and present at the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Awards.”
“In particular, we are very proud to see Joe Schmidt’s immense contribution to Irish Rugby recognised with the awarding of the prestigious Tom Rooney award. He and the Irish men’s team have very challenging but exciting months ahead. We want to wish him and the team all the very best in the upcoming Guinness Series and the Rugby World Cup in Japan.”
“It is a real honour to receive the Guinness Rugby Writers Tom Rooney Award,”added Schmidt.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Ireland. My family and I feel that we have been made to feel part of the community here, right from the outset. We are not sure where we will be or what we’ll be doing next but I’m really looking forward to the exciting challenge that lies ahead in the upcoming Guinness Summer Series in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup in Japan. The management and players at both Leinster and Ireland have been incredible to work with. I accept this award on all of their behalf and will be forever grateful to all of them for the privilege of working alongside them.”
Image Credit: Dan Sheridan, Inpho.ie