All Blacks and Crusaders captain Richie McCaw has been named the International Rugby Board Player of the Year for the third time.
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 announced , with the All Blacks named IRB Team of the Year 2010 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.
“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.”
Previous Winners of 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 – Daniel 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)