James Ryan has been named the Players’ Player of the Year at the Zurich Irish Rugby Player Awards for 2019.
The Leinster lock has continued in his rich vein of form following a breakout year in 2018, beating off stiff competition from Tadhg Beirne, Jack Carty and Peter O’Mahony to claim the prize.
Since making his Ireland debut against the USA in 2017, the 22-year-old has gone on to amass 17 caps for his country as well as cementing his place as a pivotal cog in the Leinster side who narrowly lost out to Saracens in Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup final.
Ryan was further acknowledged by his peers who named him as the Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year for 2019 ahead of Jordan Larmour and Jacob Stockdale who took home the prize last year.
“It’s always nice to win awards, but tonight has been particularly special in that I am being recognised by my teammates and opponents. I have many great memories of the season but there have also been plenty of learnings that I will take with me into the future. A special word of thanks to my family who continue to guide me through what has been a fairly hectic rugby career to date,” said Ryan.
On the night, Ryan was nominated for a third award but fell short of taking home the hat-trick as Connacht’s Jack Carty was named Virgin Media Sport Supporters’ Player of the Year following an outstanding season with the western province that saw him pick up his first Irish cap.
Other winners on the night included Irish women’s captain, Ciara Griffin, who took home the BNY Mellon Women’s XVs Player of the Year. Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe claimed the iZest Marketing Women’s 7s Player of the Year for the third time, while Terry Kennedy was named the AIB Corporate Banking Men’s 7s Player of the Year.
Retiring Ulster man, Darren Cave, was awarded the Vodafone Medal for Excellence, which rewards on-field effort combined with off-field commitment to the game. Former Leinster, Ireland and British & Irish Lions hooker Shane Byrne was awarded The Zurich Contribution to Irish Society Award in recognition of his tireless charitable work.
Italy head coach, Conor O’Shea was inducted BNY Mellon Hall of Fame while members of the public voted for Ireland’s win over New Zealand in November as the Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort Rugby Moment of the Year with Peter O’Mahony picking up the award on behalf of the team.
CEO of Rugby Players Ireland, Simon Keogh, paid tribute to all the awards winners following the event.
“Winning a Zurich Irish Rugby Players’ Award is the highest honour an individual player can receive in Ireland. To be acknowledged by your teammates and opponents in this manner goes some way to justifying the sacrifices that are required to make it at the top-level of the game. James Ryan has enjoyed a fantastic season, as have all those who have won awards tonight.”