by Nigel Melville
Nigel Melville Direct
New Zealand sports and entertainment stars will join the greats of the Game for an evening of celebration and reflection of a compelling year of Rugby at the IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline on October 24 at Vector Arena in Auckland. This will be a huge event and will effectively bring down the curtain on the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
The star-studded 2011 ceremony will see fans able to share in the celebrations for the first time and will recognise the outstanding achievers and contributors to the Game in 2011 as well as look back at what is shaping up to be an exceptional seventh chapter of the Rugby World Cup story.
Hayley Westenra, one of New Zealand's most recognisable stars and the world's biggest selling soprano, will perform at the IRB Awards, which will provide the first opportunity to mingle with the newly crowned world champions.
SKY Sports presenters Tony Johnson and former All Blacks second row Ian Jones will host the ceremony with 12 IRB Awards to be presented on the night, the most prestigious being the IRB Player, Coach and Team of the Year accolades.
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 have been awarding points to the three players they consider stood out in Rugby World Cup 2011, Six Nations and Tri Nations matches amongst others. They will continue to vote during the knockout stages of Rugby World Cup 2011.
My vote for the IRB Player of the Year goes to.....Piri Weepu.
Had you asked me that question 7 weeks ago, I would have answered Dan Carter, but Carter's injury threw the All Blacks into turmoil and one man more than any other stepped forward, Piri Weepu. When I was in Wellington with the Eagles, I met up with All Black scrum half, Dave Loveridge. At that time Weepu was not the starting halfback, although we both agreed that he should be. Well cometh the hour, cometh the man..Piri Weepu has had a wonderful World Cup. Let me know who you think should be the Player of the Year?
International Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The IRB Awards 2011 in association with Emirates Airline will provide a fitting finale to a year that has seen compelling action on the field and exceptional feats by those who embody Rugby’s values of respect, teamwork and fair play.”
“The glittering event will also bring down the curtain on an exceptional Rugby World Cup that has captured the hearts and minds of New Zealanders and delivered thrilling moments that will live long in the memories of those who experienced the magic in New Zealand and watching from afar.”
Nine other Awards will also be presented on the night, including the IRB Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC and IRB Junior Player of the Year for which the nominees have already been revealed following the completion of the HSBC Sevens World Series and IRB Junior World Championship.
The other Awards to be presented are the IRB Women’s Personality of the Year, IRB Development Award, IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service in association with Emirates Airline, Spirit of Rugby Award, the Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service, the IRPA Special Merit Award and the IRPA Try of the Year.
The evening will also see the latest inductions into the IRB Hall of Fame, under the theme of Rugby World Cup founders, visionaries and iconic figures
With an impressive resume as player, coach and administrator, Nigel David Melville took over as CEO and President of Rugby Operations of USA Rugby, the National Governing Body of the sport in America, in 2006. In addition to his full time job promoting the sport in the U.S., Melville has launched his own blog, Nigel Melville Direct, to further the discussion and his passion for what it will take to make the U.S. a great rugby playing nation.
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