England captain Ollie Phillips has been named IRB Sevens Player of the Year, the first of the IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline to be presented this year.
The announcement of the year's first award-winner follows the introduction of an exciting new format for the IRB Awards. Starting this year, the winner of each of the 13 coveted categories of awards will be named at different stages throughout the year, culminating in the announcement of the prestigious IRB Player, Coach and Team of the Year in November.
Phillips led England to seven events in this year's IRB Sevens World Series and was inspirational in their two Cup successes, a first ever in Wellington, New Zealand and a first for five years at their home Emirates Airline London Sevens at Twickenham last weekend.
"It's been a fantastic year personally and collectively for our team and to captain any England side is a huge honour," said Phillips after receiving the award from Scottish legend Gavin
Hastings at a function in Murrayfield Stadium.
"I was surprised to be on the shortlist of nomineees for the award, so to win it is really very special.
"To do the things that we've done this season, where we've fallen short at some points and then we've had massive highs - Wellington, Twickenham last week - was huge for us and this award is a special thing for me obviously, to be named as the best Sevens player in the world, but there's a lot of players who've graced that turf who are pretty special too, some get recognised, some don't and fortunately for me people have picked me out.
"I'll be able to tell my grandkids when I'm looking slightly older than I do already that that was me and I was involved in that."
The award was nominated for and voted on by the team management of the 12 core teams in the IRB Sevens World Series and the England captain beat off the stiff challenge of Fiji's Emosi Vucago, South African World Series-winning pair Mpho Mbiyozo and Renfred Dazel and Kenyan brothers Humphrey Kayange and Collins Injera, the season's top try-scorer.
Previous IRB Sevens Players of the Year
2004 Simon Amor, England
2005 Orene Ai'i, New Zealand
2006 Uale Mai, Samoa
2007 Afeleke Pelenise, New Zealand
2008 DJ Forbes, New Zealand