New Zealand scoop hat-trick of top IRB awards [+ audio]

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw was today named International Rugby Board (IRB) player of the year .

Richie McCaw, who led the All Blacks to 11 wins from 12 tests this year, headed a success triple for the All Blacks in the awards, announced in Glasgow, Scotland, today.

>> Audio: Richie McCaw on winning IRB award

>>View our tour picture wrap-up

The All Blacks were pronounced Team of the Year for the second consecutive year and head coach, Graham Henry, took the Coach of the Year award.

The All Blacks have been the outstanding team in 2006 and will finish the year at No 1 in the World rankings, a position they have occupied since June 2004.

Last year's Player of the Year, Daniel Carter, was again instrumental in the All Blacks' success.

He was short-listed for the top prize again this time.

The Player of the Year award was considered by a panel of rugby greats with 503 caps between them -- among them were Jonathan Davies, Keith Wood, Will Greenwood and Fabien Galthie.

The panel was chaired by double Rugby World Cup winner John Eales.

All major test matches during 2006 were considered with Australia's Chris Latham, South Africa's Fourie du Preez and Ireland lock Paul O'Connell all short-listed alongside McCaw and Carter for the prestigious award.

The award for IRB Sevens Team of the Year went to 2005/06 IRB Sevens Series winners and current World Cup Sevens champions Fiji. Samoa's captain, Uale Mai, was named Sevens Player of the Year.

The Vernon Pugh Award for distinguished service went to former All Black captain, Brian Lochore.

The IRB also announced the inaugural inductees into the IRB Hall of Fame that was launched during the awards ceremony.

The IRB Hall of Fame has been established to chronicle the achievements and the special contribution of rugby's players, coaches, administrators, match officials, institutions and individuals.

Inductees will be announced annually at the IRB Awards.

To commemorate the establishment of the Hall of Fame and to recognise the proud history and traditions of the Game, including its origins, William Webb Ellis and Rugby School were enrolled into the Hall of Fame.

AWARDS LIST

International Player of the Year: Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
International Team of the Year: New Zealand
International Coach of the Year: Graham Henry (New Zealand)
International U19 Player of the Year: Josh Holmes (Australia)
International U21 Player of the Year: Lionel Beauxis (France)
International Sevens Team of the Year: Fiji
International Sevens Player of the Year: Uale Mai (Samoa)
Spirit of Rugby award: Polly Miller
Vernon Pugh award for Distinguished Service: Brian Lochore
Referee award for Distinguished Service: Peter Marshall
International Women's Personality of the Year: Margaret Alphonsi.
Development Award: Mike Luke
Hall of Fame inductees: William Webb Ellis and Rugby School

- NZPA

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