The All Blacks have been named IRB Team of the Year and Graham Henry IRB Coach of the Year, to add to the Rugby World Cup crown they claimed at Eden Park with a hard-fought 8-7 victory over the French on 23 October.
France captain Thierry Dusautoir has been named the IRB Player of the Year at the 2011 IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline, during a star-studded ceremony at Vector Arena in Auckland on Monday.
Dusautoir is the second Frenchman to win the Award, following in the footsteps of former national team captain, Fabien Galthié, who claimed the accolade in 2002.
Dusautoir was outstanding all season for France, including in the World Cup and particularly the final where his defensive effort and ball-carrying inspired the French against the hosts.
He was picked ahead of five other nominees – New Zealand scrum half Piri Weepu, flanker Jerome Kaino and centre Ma’a Nonu and Australia flanker David Pocock and scrum half Will Genia.
The winners were selected by the Awards’ independent panel of judges, chaired by Rugby World Cup-winner John Eales and made up of former internationals with more than 500 caps between them. The panel deliberated on every major Test match played this year, starting with the first Six Nations match and finishing with the Rugby World Cup 2011 Final.
The glittering event, which also celebrated 125 years of the International Rugby Board, was a fitting finale to what IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset described as an “exceptional” Rugby World Cup and was attended by all four semi-final teams, royalty and stars from sport and entertainment.
Earlier in the day, an estimated 240,000 fans turned up to catch a glimpse of the All Blacks who were last to arrive at the Vector Arena with the Webb Ellis Cup.
Full list of IRB Awards winners
IRB Player of the Year – Thierry Dusautoir
IRB Team of the Year – New Zealand
IRB Coach of the Year – Graham Henry
IRB Junior Player of the Year – George Ford, England
IRB Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Cecil Afrika, South Africa
IRB Women’s Personality of the Year – Ruth Mitchell
IRB Development Award – Rookie Rugby
IRB Spirit of Rugby Award – Wooden Spoon
IRPA Special Merit Award – George Smith, Australia
IRPA Try of the Year – Radike Samo, Australia v New Zealand