Australia’s Debby Hodgkinson has today been named the IRB Women’s Personality of the Year 2009 in association with Emirates Airline.
The inspirational number 8 was presented with her award in Apia by Samoa legend Brian Lima after helping her team to qualify for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010 with an 87-0 victory over Samoa.
The 28-year-old helped Australia to victory in the inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai, starting all six matches and scoring seven tries, including a scintillating score in a dramatic final victory over New Zealand.
Hodgkinson’s blistering runs, strong offloading game and ability to unlock opposition defences were the outstanding qualities that saw her claim the coveted Award amongst fierce competition in what was a truly exciting Women’s tournament, with Brazil, Spain, Uganda and China all recording victories.
“The Women’s Game was firmly positioned on the world sporting map this year with the introduction of the spectacular Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
“A strong feature of the groundbreaking tournament was the competitiveness of the matches, the quality of the Rugby and the emergence of true stars of the Women’s Game. Debby Hodgkinson is certainly one of them.”
“Her outstanding and consistent performances were a strong feature of Australia’s push to become world champions, and Debby is a deserving recipient of this prestigious award. I would like to extend my congratulations to her on behalf of the International Rugby Board,” added Lapasset.
John O’Neill, Managing Director and CEO, Australian Rugby Union, expressed his delight at Debby’s award: “The ARU is delighted for Debby. Her achievements in the Women’s Game and her contribution over a considerable period of time make her a thoroughly deserving recipient of this prestigious IRB award.”
“I had the pleasure of being in Dubai when the Australian Women’s team won the IRB World Cup Sevens this year and Debby, as a significant force throughout, was named the Female Player of the Tournament. Her powerful running has been a feature of the Sevens team and of the Wallaroos side since making her debut for Australia in 2002.”
Hodgkinson follows in the footsteps of leading administrator Carol Isherwood, who scooped the Award in 2008, and is the first Australian to receive the Award. Other recipients of the prestigious award include three-time World Cup winner Farah Palmer of New Zealand, Donna Kennedy, capped more than 100 times by Scotland, and England's Maggie Alphonsi.
England captain Ollie Phillips was named IRB Sevens Player of the Year in May, while New Zealand Under 20 captain Aaron Cruden was named IRB Junior Player of the Year in June, leaving 10 of the 13 coveted IRB Award categories still to be announced.
In the exciting new format for the IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline, winners will be named throughout the year, culminating in the announcement of the prestigious IRB Player, Coach and Team of the Year in November.
2001 - Shelley Rae
2002 - Monique Hirovanaa
2003 - Kathy Flores
2004 - Donna Kennedy
2005 - Farah Palmer
2006 - Margaret Alphonsi
2007 - Sarah Corrigan
2008 - Carol Isherwood