Jean-Claude Baque receives Vernon Pugh Award

(IRB.COM) Saturday 4 December 2010
 Jean-Claude Baque receives Vernon Pugh Award
Jean-Claude Baque (R) receives Award from Jacques Laurans - Photo: Christelle Glémet

Jean-Claude Baque has been named the recipient of the 2010 Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service in association with Emirates Airline.

The Award, a prestigious individual accolade, was presented to Baque in a special ceremony at the FIRA-AER General Assembly in Paris today, in recognition of the significant contribution the Frenchman has made as a pioneering coach and administrator and a true champion of international Age Grade Rugby and the development of the Game within Europe.

“I am delighted that this Award is going to a man who has contributed so much to the development of Rugby throughout Europe and someone who truly embodies the attributes of integrity, passion, determination and dedication that are central to the IRB Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.

"The global Rugby family is extremely grateful for his immense contribution.”

In a remarkable career, Baque was appointed President of Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur (FIRA) in 1998, having served as Vice-President of the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) and as President of his Regional Committee.

Throughout his career Baque has championed Age Grade Rugby. Under his guidance the FIRA-AER Under 19 Championship flourished into a major internationally-renowned tournament, providing regular and competitive Rugby for many players who would go on to grace the international stage.

The tournament would eventually form the embryonic beginnings of the IRB Under 19 World Championship and latterly the IRB Junior World Championship, which is now a key event in the Rugby calendar and provides a vital international player development pathway.
Baque began his Rugby career at the famous Stade Toulousain where he captained the team to Junior French Championship victory. Captaincy of the junior national team and senior Rugby at SC Graulhet followed, before a switch to coaching in 1968.

In a hugely successful coaching career, Baque enjoyed accolades with the French Junior National Team, Morocco Senior National Team and France A before leaving behind activities on the pitch for those in the boardroom.

New Zealand were honoured with a hat-trick of IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline on Wednesday as captain Richie McCaw was named IRB Player of the Year, the All Blacks the IRB Team of the Year and Graham Henry the IRB Coach of the Year.

The accolades added to New Zealand's phenomenal IRB Awards haul this year with Julian Savea winning the IRB Junior Player of the Year in June and Carla Hohepa named IRB Women’s Personality of the Year in September after a magnificent Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Other IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline to be presented in 2010 include Samoa’s Mikaele Pesamino as the IRB Sevens Player of the Year in May, IRB Development Award winner Brian O’Shea in October and Colin High, who received as the IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service last month. The Spirit of Rugby Award was presented last weekend to Virreyes Rugby Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Previous Winners of the Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service (IRB Chairman's Award 2001-2003):

2009 – Noel Murphy
2008 - Sir Nicholas Shehadie
2007 - Jose Epalza
2006 - Brian Lochore
2005 - Peter Crittle
2004 - Ronnie Dawson
2003 - Vernon Pugh
2002 - Bill McLaren, George Pippos (posthumously)
2001 - Kath McLean, Sir Terry McLean, Albert Farasse, John Eales