The International Rugby Board has unveiled the shortlist of three nominees for the IRB Junior Player of the Year. The recipient of the award, which recognises the finest international players at Under 20 level, will be announced at the IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline in London on November 23.
New Zealand, winners of the inaugural IRB Junior World Championship held in Wales, has two nominees on the shortlist. Impressive flanker Luke Braid is joined by Chris Smith, who captained his side to silverware in 2008 and at last year’s IRB Under 19 World Championship.
The third nominee is England scrum half Joe Simpson, who was prominent in his team’s successful passage to the final. The nominees were selected by a panel including the Team Managers from the IRB Junior World Championship.
“The inaugural IRB Junior World Championship and its sister tournament the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy made impressive debuts in 2008,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset. “Not only did the Championship in Wales provide a feast of entertaining, high quality rugby that was competitive throughout, but it also set new standards in terms of attendance and broadcast figures.”
“The IRB Junior Player of the Year allows the IRB the opportunity to recognise the achievements of the finest up and coming names in the Game. Previous winners of this coveted age grade award include Gavin Henson, Luke McAlister and Isaia Toeava,” added Lapasset.
The IRB Awards, sponsored by Emirates Airline, is the most prestigious evening in the Rugby calendar and will be attended by over 700 guests, among them stars of the Game past and present, referees, ambassadors and other distinguished members of the Rugby family.
Other awards presented at the IRB Awards include the Spirit of Rugby Award, the IRB Development Award, the IRB Women's Personality of the Year 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 Women's Personality of the Year
IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service in association with Emirates Airline
Spirit of Rugby Award
IRPA Try of the Year
IRPA Special Merit Award