The nominees for the 2018 Zurich Players’ Player of the Year Award have been announced today.
The awards ceremony will take place on Wednesday, May 16, at the Clayton Hotel in Ballsbridge.
— RugbyPlayersIreland (@RugbyPlayersIRE) April 23, 2018
Keith Earls, Ireland’s fourth all-time record try scorer, has enjoyed a series of outstanding performances for both Munster and Ireland.
Tadhg Furlong is nominated for the second year running after shining for the British & Irish Lions on their tour of New Zealand and spearheading Ireland’s front row during the NatWest Six Nations.
Conor Murray, the current holder of the prestigious award, has had an impressive year for the British & Irish Lions, Munster and Ireland, with the scrum-half adding goal kicking and line-outs to his talents.
Johnny Sexton’s year will be forever remembered for that last-minute drop goal against France in Paris, reinforcing his reputation as Ireland’s talisman.
Three of Ireland’s youngsters who are all NatWest Six Nations and Grand Slam winners will contest the Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year Award: Jordan Larmour (Leinster), James Ryan (Leinster) and Jacob Stockdale (Ulster), whilst three iconic try efforts will contest the Volkswagen Try of the Year Award.
Following Ireland’s hosting of the 2017 Woman’s Rugby World Cup and Ireland’s Semi-Final finish, several players have come into contention for the BNY Mellon Women’s XV Player of the Year 2018 as voted by the players involved over the last 12 months: Katie Fitzhenry, Ciara Griffin and Claire Molloy.
The Woman’s 7s Player of the Year will also be awarded on the night, and the nominees are Ashleigh Baxter, Stacey Flood and Lucy Mulhall.
The Vodafone Medal for Excellence will be awarded to the individual who has shown exceptional commitment to the game of rugby both on and off the field. Nominated this year by their peers are Duncan Casey (Grenoble), Jake Heenan (Connacht) and Rhys Ruddock (Leinster).
There will also be chance for members of the public to get involved by nominating their Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort Moment of the Year 2018 via Twitter @druidsglen, using #RugbyAwards18.
Rugby fans across Ireland can choose The Mason Alexander Supporters Player of the Year 2018 which will be will be run through the Rugby Players Ireland website.
Commenting on the announcement marking Zurich’s third year sponsoring the Zurich Rugby Players Ireland Awards Anthony Brennan, CEO of Zurich Ireland said: “This year’s Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate what has been a superb year for Irish rugby from winning the Grand Slam and having Leinster competing for the Champions Cup title to hosting the Women’s Rugby World Cup.
“We in Zurich are hugely proud to support rugby in Ireland through a number of initiatives including the Tackle Your Feelings campaign.
“For us, these awards are about recognising individuals that have demonstrated an extraordinary contribution to the sport on the field and throughout their wider communities, underpinned by our sponsorship of the Zurich Contribution to Irish Society Award which our Life MD, David O’Dowd, will present on the night.”
Nominee for the 2018 Zurich Players’ Player of the Year Award, Irish international rugby player Keith Earls, added: “It’s an honour to be nominated by my fellow players for the 2018 Zurich Players’ Player of the Year Award, alongside my teammates and friends.
“Tadgh, Conor and Johnny have had stand out performances so I’m delighted to be there alongside them.
“Whilst it’s fantastic to be celebrating some fantastic moments this season like the Grand Slam, we’re conscious that we’ve got the closing stages of the Guinness Pro14 ahead – there’s still a lot to play for.
“To see so many exceptional young players shortlisted for the Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year Award really points to a strong future for Irish rugby – and even bigger and better seasons ahead.”