The International Rugby Board has announced the shortlist of players nominated for the prestigious IRB Player of the Year Award. The five short-listed nominees were unveiled at a media conference in Paris at the Main Media Centre following the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.
Argentina centre Felipe Contepomi, New Zealand flanker and 2006 IRB Player of the Year Richie McCaw, South Africa wing Bryan Habana, French centre Yannick Jauzion and Argentina fly half Juan Hernandez are the five nominees for IRB Player of the Year.
The IRB Awards ceremony, held in association with Emirates Airline, is being held this year at the Pavilion d'Armenonville in Paris' Allée de Longchamp on 21 October.
"The IRB Player of the Year Award is the ultimate accolade for a player to receive in his career. It takes on added significance in a Rugby World Cup year and takes into account player performances in all major internationals including matches in the RBS Six Nations Championship, Tri-Nations Series, the June International Series and of course the tournament," said International Rugby Board Chairman, Dr Syd Millar.
"The list of past winners of this prestigious award is very impressive and comprises players of the calibre of Schalk Burger, Dan Carter, Jonny Wilkinson, Richie McCaw, Fabien Galthie and Keith Wood," added Dr Millar.
The nominees were selected by the Awards' independent panel of judges, made up of former internationals with over 500 caps between them. The Awards panel, which also votes on the IRB Coach and Team of the Year during the same period, has deliberated on every major Test match played this year starting with the first 6 Nations match and finishing with the Rugby World Cup final.
Francois Pienaar, Michael Jones, Fabien Galthie, Keith Wood, Gavin Hastings, Will Greenwood, Jonathan Davies, Dan Lyle, Federico Mendez and convener John Eales have watched over 80 matches between them and in the 110 hours of action they awarded points to three players in every match.
"With the shortlist of five nominees now selected the panel will reconvene immediately after the Rugby World Cup final when the IRB Player of the Year 2007 will be selected. The announcement will be made at the IRB Awards the day after the final on Sunday 21 October in Paris, which is the biggest and most prestigious annual celebration of the international Game," added Dr Millar.
The IRB Player of the Year is one of 12 categories of awards that include the IRB Coach of the Year, IRB Team of the Year, IRB Sevens Player of the Year, IRB Sevens Team of the Year and IRB Women's Personality of the Year.
The event also recognises Age Grade Rugby and there is a special Spirit of Rugby award which honours outstanding contribution to the Game.
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