Clean sweep for All Blacks as Read and Hansen get top gongs at IRB awards
Kieran Read and Steve Hansen have capped off the perfect year for the All Blacks after being named IRB player and coach of the year respectively.
The duo were long odds-on favourites to scoop the privileged awards after the All Blacks created history by becoming the first country in the professional era to win every game in a calendar year.
Predictably, the All Blacks were crowned team of the year for the sixth time in eight seasons.
Read is the third New Zealander to be named IRB Player of the Year, following in the footsteps of teammates Dan Carter (2005 and 2012) and Richie McCaw (2006, 2009 and 2010).
Former Irish international hooker Keith Wood won the inaugural award in 2001, although many felt Brian O’Driscoll should have succeeded him in 2009, when McCaw controversially eclipsed the centre.
There was no Irishman shortlisted this year and no debate either as 28-year-old Read enjoyed a fantastic year in the heart of the All Blacks’ pack and played no small part in ensuring his team went through 2013 with a perfect record.
His influence has been huge, as demonstrated by his workload in the scrum, lineout, his tackling, his ability to compete in the air and at the breakdown, not to mention the tendency to be in the right place at the right time when it comes to creating or scoring tries.
He has played 61 Tests for New Zealand, the majority of them in the back row alongside Richie McCaw, and is now the most prolific try-scoring number 8 in world Rugby.
He edged out Eben Etzebeth (South Africa), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Sergio Parisse (Italy) and Ben Smith (New Zealand) for the award in a closely fought contest during a year of spectacular performances on the international stage.
The accolade completes a hat-trick of awards for New Zealand, as the All Blacks were named IRB Team of the Year for the seventh time and Steve Hansen the IRB Coach of the Year for the second year in succession.
Under Hansen’s guidance New Zealand won all 14 of their Test matches during 2013, a feat that has never before been achieved in the professional era.
In that time his team won the Bledisloe Cup for the 11th successive year on their way to retaining The Rugby Championship title.