Leinster and Ireland’s James Ryan has been named the Zurich Players’ Player of the Year 2019 by his fellow players at the Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards ceremony. Ryan, has been a formidable presence for both club and country throughout the season and beats off competition from Tadhg Beirne, Jack Carty and Peter O’Mahony to claim the award.

Still just 22, Ryan has amassed 17 caps for his country since making his debut against the USA in 2017 and has become an increasingly influential figure in Irish camp. This was further acknowledged by his peers who also deemed him to be the Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year 2019 ahead of Jordan Larmour and last year’s winner Jacob Stockdale.

On receiving his awards Ryan commented: “It’s always nice to win awards, 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 won by Connacht’s Jack Carty who has enjoyed an outstanding season, winning his debut Irish cap in addition to becoming Connacht’s record points scorer. Jack follows club and country teammate Bundee Aki in winning the public vote.

The BNY Mellon Women’s XVs Player of the Year 2019 as voted by members of the Ireland squad was presented to Ciara Griffin for several outstanding performances in what was a challenging season. Meanwhile, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe claimed the iZest Marketing Women’s 7s Player of the Year for the third time, with Terry Kennedy taking home the AIB Corporate Banking Men’s 7s Player of the Year title.  

Rugby World Cup Sevens San Francisco 2018 Day 1 AT&T park San Francisco 20/7/2018 England Women vs Ireland Women Ireland’s Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe runs in for a try Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Many of the biggest names in Irish rugby were present at the Clayton Hotel on the Burlington Road last night for what was a celebration of a season of highs and lows for the game on the field. Rugby Players Ireland’s evolving past-player network was also strongly represented as former players turned out to acknowledge the work of their successors and to welcome former Irish full-back Conor O’Shea into the BNY Mellon Hall of Fame.

Darren Cave, who will be retiring at the end of the season, was awarded the Vodafone Medal for Excellence, which rewards on-field effort combined with off-field commitment to the game. The Zurich Contribution to Irish Society Awardmeanwhile, was presented to former Leinster, Ireland and British & Irish Lions hooker Shane Byrne in recognition of his tireless charitable work.

While there were several moments throughout the season that will always be remembered fondly, members of the public determined that Ireland’s victory over New Zealand in November was the Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort Rugby Moment of the Year. Peter O’Mahony was in attendance to accept the award on behalf of his Irish teammates.

Guinness Series, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 17/11/2018 Ireland vs New Zealand All Blacks Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best, Cian Healy, Peter O’Mahony and Devin Toner celebrate winning Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

All of the winners on the night received a Hugo Boss watch kindly provided by Fields Jewellers.   

Simon Keogh, CEO of Rugby Players Ireland commented: “Winning a Zurich Irish Rugby Players’ Award is the highest honour an individual player can receive in Ireland. To be acknowledged by your teammates and opponents in this manner goes some way to justifying the sacrifices that are required to make at the top-level of the game. James Ryan has enjoyed a fantastic season, as have all those who have won awards tonight.”

Anthony Brennan, CEO of Zurich in Ireland said: “I wish to extend my congratulations to all of our worthy winners tonight – and to all of those who were nominated. Zurich is delighted to sponsor these Awards which acknowledge and celebrate the hard work that these players put in on and off-the-field throughout the season. We look forward to continuing our support of Rugby Players Ireland and the Tackle Your Feelings campaign, which enters a new phase as we continue to  encourage people to look after their mental wellbeing with the support of some of Irish sport’s most influential names.”

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