All Blacks sweep IRB Awards

12:58, Dec 02 2010
 All Blacks vs England
Richie McCaw packs down during the All Blacks' test against England at Twickenham.
Richie McCaw ready to pounce.
BACK IN THE DAY: McCaw ready to pounce way back in 2005.
Richie McCaw at Wild Hair Day
UP CLOSE: At Save the Children Wild Hair Day at Roscommon School in Manakau, McCaw and a 11-year-old perform a hongi together, back in 2005.
Richie in London
CAPTAIN: McCaw speaks to media at Royal Garden Hotel in London.
Richie McCaw's legs
NOT ALWAYS PRETTY: McCaw training in Edinburgh.
Richie McCaw and Liam Messam
RICHIE & LIAM: McCaw, left practicing with Messam in Edinburgh.
Richie McCaw punches the air.
JUST LIKE THIS: McCaw, left, punches the air while Thorn looks on.
Richie McCaw midtackle.
CAPTAIN TO CAPTAIN: McCaw puts a tackle on his counterpart, Welsh captain Matthew Rees.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw (left) listens as teammate Mils Muliaina talks after the pair were recognised for setting a New Zealand test caps record on the recent Northern Hemisphere tour.
RECOGNISED: All Blacks captain Richie McCaw (left) listens as teammate Mils Muliaina talks after the pair were recognised for setting a New Zealand test caps record on the recent Northern Hemisphere tour.
Richie McCaw
FLYING: Richie McCaw at Auckland Airport.
Richie McCaw
Richie McCaw hugs Hosea Gear after his first try during the New Zealand vs Scotland rugby test.
Keven Mealamu, Mils Muliaina and Richie McCaw
The All Blacks boys are looking sharp in pinstripes (from left), Keven Mealamu, Mils Muliaina and captain Richie McCaw.
All Blacks v Springboks
Richie McCaw unveils the new uniform prior to the Tri-Nations match against the South Africa.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and Wallabies first five-eighth Quade Cooper square off.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and Wallabies first five-eighth Quade Cooper square off.
Muliaina and McCaw
Richie McCaw leaves the field with a cut above his left eye during the Tri-Nations Bledisloe Cup match at Stadium Australia in 2002.
Muliaina and McCaw
Richard McCaw, on debut for the All Blacks in 2001, runs at the defence against Ireland at Lansdowne Road.
Muliaina and McCaw
Richie McCaw, Doug Howlett, Ali Williams and captain Tana Umaga in the dressing room with the Dave Gallaher Cup following the All Blacks' 45-6 win over France at Stade de France in 2005.
Muliaina and McCaw
Richie McCaw celebrates with the Tri-Nations trophy after the second Bledisloe Cup match in 2003.
Muliaina and McCaw
Prince William (R) shares a laugh with All Blacks (L-R) James Ryan, Richie McCaw, Chris Jack and Ali Williams in 2005 in Auckland.
Muliaina and McCaw
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and coach Graham Henry front the media at a press conference after the team arrived home following their defeat to France in the Rugby World Cup 2007 quarterfinal in 2007.
Muliaina and McCaw
Richie McCaw is tackled by Lote Tuqiri of the Wallabies during their 2007 Tri-Nations match.
Muliaina and McCaw
The back of Richie McCaw of the All Blacks shows a large cut during the Bledisloe Cup match in 2006 in Brisbane.
Muliaina and McCaw
Richie McCaw is escorted from the field to the blood bin for the second time during the All Blacks' 29-9 win over South Africa in the quarterfinal of the Rugby World Cup in 2003.
Muliaina and McCaw
Richie McCaw wears an eye patch at All Blacks training at Stade Jean-Bouin in 2007 in Marseille.
Muliaina and McCaw
Carl Hayman, Richie McCaw and Mils Muliaina perform the haka against Ireland at Lansdowne Road in 2005.
Richie McCaw
Captain Richie McCaw is set to join an elite group of All Blacks when he plays his 100th test for New Zealand.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has been named the International Rugby Board's player of the year.

The 29-year-old flanker is the first player to receive the prestigious accolade three times, as well as in consecutive years, cementing his position as one of the greats of the game.

The accolade completes a hat-trick of IRB Awards for New Zealand with the All Blacks named IRB Team of the Year 2010 in association with Emirates Airline and Graham Henry unveiled as IRB Coach of the Year for a record fourth time.

Henry has previously been named IRB Coach of the Year in 2005, 2006 and 2008 and New Zealand are named IRB Team of the Year for the fourth time in six years.

McCaw faced stiff competition for the Player of the Year Award with teammate Mils Muliaina, South Africa's Victor Matfield, Imanol Harinordoquy from France and rising young Australia stars David Pocock and Kurtley Beale all performing superbly during the year.

However, it was McCaw, who captained the world's number one ranked team to a record of 13 wins from 14 matches during 2010, including a Tri-Nations title and an unbeaten end of year tour to Europe, that consistently impressed the IRB's awards panel with some outstanding performances to cement his stature as one of rugby's great leaders.

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"It's been a good year and everyone has made a huge effort, from the coaches right through all the players. It's been a lot of fun as well to work with quality players, and I just love playing rugby and especially international rugby," said McCaw, along with Muliaina now the most capped All Black of all time.

"This award is very special but wouldn't happen without an exceptional team who are good mates, and that's something I am equally proud of."

IRB Coach of the Year Graham Henry added: "I am very proud to be awarded this honour again. The award reflects the hard work of the team, and I am delighted the All Blacks have also been named IRB Team of the Year."

"It is also an award for team manager Darren Shand who does a fabulous job, and for the exceptional coaching team who work with me. I am extremely fortunate to have a group of guys who are exceptionally good at what they do."

"Richie McCaw is a phenomenal captain. He just gets better and better the more he does it and the team now is a very experienced side with him and Mils on 94 caps each, and nine players in the side with more than 50 caps," added Henry.

The IRB Player of the Year Award is selected by the IRB Awards independent panel of judges, comprising former internationals with over 500 Test caps between them. Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustín Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga, Paul Wallace and convenor John Eales watched over 78 hours of action from 59 matches, awarding points to the three players they thought stood out in each match.

"Rugby is fortunate to have a player and person of the calibre of Richie McCaw. He is an outstanding captain, a world class player and a role model for our sport. In winning the Award three times, Richie has truly cemented his place right up there amongst some of the greats," said Eales.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset added: "It has been a compelling year of international Rugby as we count down to what promises to be a special Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand."

"The All Blacks have consistently performed to the highest standards this year, they are number one in the IRB World Rankings and have lost just one match in 2010. Richie McCaw, Graham Henry and the entire New Zealand team are deserving recipients of these prestigious awards."

The accolades cap a phenomenal year for New Zealand Rugby with Julian Savea winning the IRB Junior Player of the Year in June and Carla Hohepa named IRB Women's Personality of the Year in September after a magnificent Women's Rugby World Cup.

The other IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline to be presented in 2010 include Samoa's Mikaele Pesamino as the IRB Sevens Player of the Year in May, IRB Development Award winner Brian O'Shea in October and Colin High, who received as the IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service last month. The Spirit of Rugby Award was presented on Saturday to Virreyes Rugby Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Previous Winners of the IRB Player of the Year Award:
2009 - Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2008 - Shane Williams (Wales)
2007 - Bryan Habana (South Africa)
2006 - Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2005 - Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2004 - Schalk Burger (South Africa)
2003 - Jonny Wilkinson (England)
2002 - Fabien Galthié (France)
2001 - Keith Wood (Ireland)

Previous Winners of IRB Team of the Year Award:
2009 - South Africa
2008 - New Zealand
2007 - South Africa
2006 - New Zealand
2005 - New Zealand
2004 - South Africa
2003 - England
2002 - France
2001 - Australia

Previous Winners of IRB Coach of the Year Award:
2009 - Declan Kidney (Ireland)
2008 - Graham Henry (New Zealand)
2007 - Jake White (South Africa)
2006 - Graham Henry (New Zealand)
2005 - Graham Henry (New Zealand)
2004 - Jake White (South Africa)
2003 - Clive Woodward (England)
2002 - Bernard Laporte (France)
2001 - Rod Macqueen (Australia)

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