Updated: Fri, 06 Dec 2013 21:21:42 GMT

Read takes World Players' Player Award

All Blacks number eight Kieran Read has won the inaugural rugby Players' Player of the Year Award and a place in the players' World XV of the Year.


Read takes World Players' Player Award

Read takes World Players' Player Award

All Blacks number eight Kieran Read has won the inaugural rugby Players' Player of the Year Award and a place in the players' World XV of the Year.

Only days after being named the IRB's outstanding player of the year and NZ Rugby's Player of the Year, Read becomes the first recipient of the International Rugby Players' Association's (IRPA) player's Player of the Year title, having shrugged off challenges from fellow shortlisted candidates, Leigh Halfpenny (Wales) and All Black team-mate Ben Smith.

Neither Halfpenny nor Smith have completely missed out, however; each joining Read in the player's World XV of the Year.

The "IRPAS" - the first rugby awards judged by the players for the players, saw Australian AFL-convert Israel Folau win the "International Newcomer of the Year" award, and the players' "Team of the Year" title bestowed on New Zealand.

"It's pretty humbling, to be honest," Read said of his award.

"There's no greater honour than to be recognised by the people you play against.Rugby's a tough game - on the field there's no quarter given or expected. So for your opponents to single you out for this sort of attention means an awful lot."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said Read had been outstanding throughout the All Blacks' unbeaten calendar year; was a deserving recipient of the inaugural title, and congratulated IRPA for initiating the awards.

"Despite the intense rivalry in international rugby, there's a sense of honour and respect among players that these awards have captured nicely," he said.

"I'm delighted for Kieran, of course. But I'm equally delighted the players now have the opportunity to recognise their peers in such a positive way."

The players' World XV of the Year comprises seven New Zealanders, four Welshmen, two South Africans and one player each from France and England.

There was stiff competition for places at loose-forward, where All Black Liam Messam only just pipped Argentine Juan Fernandez Lobbe for the number six berth, and in the halfback pairings, where New Zealanders Aaron Smith and Aaron Cruden received marginally more votes than Samoan number nine Kahn Fotuali'i and Irish stand-off Johnny Sexton.

However, the biggest bone of contention in the World XV was in the midfield with voting spread across four players - New Zealanders Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith; South African Jean de Villiers and French inside centre Wesley Fofana.

The final count favoured Fofana and Smith. Warren Gatland, coach of Wales and the British and Ireland Lions, was pleased to see four players from his Six Nations champions make the cut, and especially outstanding fullback Leigh Halfpenny.

"I'm chuffed for all of them, naturally - it's been a very good year for the British and Irish Lions, and for Wales," he said.

"But I'm particularly pleased for Leigh (Halfpenny). He was a stand-out performer during the Lions' win in Australia earlier in the year and was also at his very best throughout our Six Nations campaign."

Folau, who is the first athlete in history to play Rugby League, Australian Rule Football and Rugby Union at the highest level, took the international scene by storm in 2013, scoring 10 tries for the Wallabies - in the process equalling the record for a year set by Lote Tuqiri in 2004.

"I've really enjoyed my first year in rugby, but there is a lot I can improve on which I am now focussing on," said Folau.

" Receiving this award is humbling because it's been voted by my peers. I couldn't have enjoyed the year I've had without the support of my team mates, coaches and officials, so this is as much for them as it is for me."

Meanwhile, rugby supporters still have time to vote for the IRPA Fans' Player and World XV of the Year Awards; the winners of which will be announced next week.

All fans need to do is to go to www.ultimaterugby.com, download the mobile app and follow the voting instructions contained within.

Ultimate Rugby IRPA Awards. Category winners:

Players' Player of the Year: Kieran Read
Players' World XV of the Year: 15 Leigh Halfpenny (WAL), 14 Ben Smith (NZ), 13 Conrad Smith (NZ), 12 Wesley Fofana (FRA), 11 George North (WAL), 10 Aaron Cruden (NZ), 9 Aaron Smith (NZ), 8 Kieran Read (NZ), 7 Sam Warburton (WAL), 6 Liam Messam (NZ), 5 Sam Whitelock (NZ), 4 Eben Etzebeth (SA), 3 Adam Jones (WAL), 2 Bismarck du Plessis (SA), 1 Alex Corbisiero (ENG).
Players' International Newcomer of the Year: Israel Folau (AUS)
Players' Team of the Year: New Zealand

More Rugby

  • Godwin gets Wallabies call-up

    Western Force centre Kyle Godwin has been included in the Wallabies 30-man squad for the next two Rugby Championship matches.

  • Argentina name 28-man touring squad

    Argentina head coach Daniel Hourcade has named his touring squad for the Rugby Championship fixtures in Australia and New Zealand.

  • Shoulder blow keeps Matera at home

    Argentina and Leicester Tigers flanker Pablo Matera will miss the Australiasian tour after suffering a partial shoulder dislocation.

  • Toulouse keep Fritz until 2018

    Toulouse and France centre Florian Fritz has signed a three-year contract extension with the Top 14 side.

  • Nowell's comeback delayed

    Exeter Chiefs and England wing Jack Nowell is making sure he takes his time in recovering from a troublesome knee injury.

  • Salta was Smith's 'darkest day'

    South Africa flanker Juan Smith has revealed that what should have been a moment of joy in Salta was the lowest of his career.

  • Uncomfortable opener for O'Shea

    Harlequins director Conor O'Shea admits that the Double Header and contests with London Irish are 'never comfortable.'

  • Castres recruit medical joker

    Western Force back Chris Tuatara-Morrison has joined Castres on a short-term deal to cover for the injured Sitiveni Sivivatu.