New Zealand

Read ascends to the throne

Tue, 03 Dec 2013 16:25
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Unbeaten All Blacks make it a clean sweep
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All Black No.8 Kieran Read on Tuesday became the third New Zealander to win the prestigious International Rugby Board (IRB) Player of the Year award.

The 28-year-old has enjoyed a fantastic year in the heart of the All Blacks’ pack and played no small part in ensuring his team went through 2013 with a perfect record.

His influence has been huge, as demonstrated by his workload in the scrum, line-out, his tackling, his ability to compete in the air and at the breakdown, not to mention the tendency to be in the right place at the right time when it comes to creating or scoring tries.

He has played 61 Tests for New Zealand, the majority of them in the back row alongside Richie McCaw, and is now the most prolific try-scoring No.8 in world rugby.

In winning the award, Read follows in the footsteps of teammates Dan Carter (2005 and 2012) and McCaw (2006, 2009 and 2010).

He edged out Eben Etzebeth (South Africa), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Sergio Parisse (Italy) and Ben Smith (New Zealand) for the award in a closely fought contest during a year of spectacular performances on the international stage.

The accolade completes a hat-trick of awards for New Zealand, as the All Blacks were named IRB Team of the Year for the seventh time and Steve Hansen the IRB Coach of the Year for the second year in succession.

Under Hansen’s guidance, New Zealand won all 14 of their Test matches during 2013, a feat that has never before been achieved in the professional era. In that time, his team won the Bledisloe Cup for the 11th successive year on their way to retaining the Rugby Championship title.

IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The IRB player, coach and team awards bring the international rugby year to a close and what a year it has been for New Zealand.

“They seem to reach new levels of excellence every year and although some managed to push them very close, they were clearly the standout team of the year.”

“From a starting point of brilliance, Kieran Read has been improving steadily in recent years and is now, without question, a world-class player.

“His talent, work ethic and attitude make him an extremely valuable player for New Zealand and a formidable opponent for everyone else. Winning this award reflects a magnificent contribution to our game during 2013.”

“I would like to congratulate those who were on a stellar shortlist. All thoroughly deserved their place and gave the panel a very difficult decision to make.”

New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Mike Eagle said: "This is fantastic recognition of a very special team. We are very proud of what Steve, Kieran and the team have achieved in 2013 as they have worked hard to be the best, and we congratulate them on these awards."

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew said:  “It’s been an outstanding year for the All Blacks and a great year to be an All Blacks fan, and we are very proud of what skipper Richie and the team has achieved.

“Kieran deserves particular acknowledgement for the remarkable season he has put in both on and off the field. The fact this is Steve’s second straight Coach of the Year award is also significant and deserves our congratulations.

“These awards are a reflection of the effort and commitment the All Blacks have shown in 2013 to be the best in the world and they can now head into a well-earned break with a high degree of satisfaction,” he said.

Hansen said: "I’d like to congratulate Kieran on his award as it is well deserved. He has been outstanding and has been a major contributor all season.

“It’s been a big year and I am incredibly proud of what the boys have achieved. I thank them for their commitment and efforts throughout the year."

"It’s certainly special to have the All Blacks named for all three IRB awards, so it’s important that we thank and acknowledge all those behind the team because it wouldn’t happen without them - the players, our management, the other team behind us at New Zealand Rugby, All Blacks fans around the world, but most importantly, thanks to our families for the love and support that allows us to focus on this great game."

All three of these IRB awards are selected by an independent panel of judges, with the rugby-loving public also given an opportunity to give their views.

The panel, chaired by Australia’s RWC 1999 winning captain John Eales, also comprises Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustín Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Paul Wallace.

The panel has deliberated on every major Test played in 2013, starting with the opening Six Nations match and culminating with the November internationals.

Previous winners of the IRB Player of the Year award:
2012 Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2011 Thierry Dusautoir (France)
2010 Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
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 the IRB Team of the Year award:
2012 New Zealand
2011 New Zealand
2010 New Zealand
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 the IRB Coach of the Year award:
2012 Steve Hansen (New Zealand)
2011 Graham Henry (New Zealand)
2010 Graham Henry (New Zealand)
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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