The International Rugby Board has unveiled the shortlist of nominees for the IRB Sevens Player of the Year award category. The ultimate accolade for Sevens players, the winner will be announced at the IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline in London on November 23.
The IRB reports that New Zealand’s dominance of the 2007/08 IRB Sevens World Series, which included a record run of 47 matches undefeated, is underlined with the nomination of inspirational captain DJ Forbes.
The New Zealander is joined in the shortlist by Samoa captain Uale Mai, the most capped Sevens player of all time and the recipient of the award in 2006, and South Africa’s veteran star Fabian Juries. The three nominees were selected by a panel comprising the team managers from the IRB Sevens World Series.
“Rugby Sevens broke new ground in 2007/08,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset. “Not only did the popular IRB Sevens World Series shatter all previous Series attendance and broadcast records, but an unprecedented level of Sevens Rugby has been played around the world this year with the continuation of qualifying for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai, the first RWC Sevens tournament to feature a women’s event running alongside the men’s.”
“The overall competitiveness of Sevens Rugby continues to scale new heights, and the IRB Sevens Player of the Year award presents the IRB with the opportunity to recognise those who made a significant impact in the Game during 2008,” added Lapasset.
Sponsored for the third year by Emirates Airline, the IRB Awards is one of the most prestigious evenings in the Rugby calendar and will be attended by 700 guests, among them stars of the Game past and present, referees, ambassadors and other distinguished members of the Rugby family.
Emirates Airline has a strong affiliation with Rugby and is the Principal Partner of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai, the most important event in the Rugby Sevens calendar. It was the Official Airline of RWC 2007 and also sponsors four IRB Sevens World Series tournaments: Dubai, South Africa, England and Scotland, and is the shirt sponsor of the England Sevens team. Emirates Airline is also the sponsor of the IRB Referee and Touch Judge panels, the IRB World Rugby Yearbook and the IRB Rugby Photograph of the Year.
Other awards presented at the IRB Awards include the Spirit of Rugby Award, the IRB Development Award, the Women’s Personality Award, the IRB Team of the Year Award and IRB Coach of the Year Award. The nominations for the prestigious IRB Player of the Year Award will be announced after the completion of the Tri Nations.
During the IRB Awards a total of five candidates will be inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame – two from the 19th Century, two from the 20th Century and one from the 21st Century.
Full list of categories:
IRB Player of the Year
IRB Coach of the Year
IRB Team of the Year
IRB Sevens Player of the Year
IRB Junior Player of the Year
IRB Hall of Fame
IRB Development Award
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service
IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service in association with Emirates Airline
Spirit of Rugby Award
IRPA Try of the Year
IRPA Special Merit Award