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Nacewa on the money as awards time draws near

When WB Yeats heard that he'd won the Nobel Prize for Literature back in 1923, the first question he asked his informant was: "How much is it worth?"

Not that the answer meant all that much because he never even frequented pubs.

It's said that he was once inveigled to enter the portals of a certain establishment, reluctantly sampled a small port and then withdrew with such unseemly haste as if the Ward Union were in pursuit.

Then a couple of years later, Bernard Shaw was next in line (they were separated by a Polish writer, Wiadyslaw Stanislaw Reymont -- no, I never heard of him either) and it's alleged that Shaw, who didn't rate awards, refused to go to Stockholm to get his medal and his few bob.

And in 1969, Samuel Beckett was honoured but ran away to North Africa to escape any official involvement, but then Seamus Heaney accepted graciously the award in 1995.

Four Irish Nobel prize winners but none for the greatest of all Irish writers, James Joyce, because "he wrote a dirty book".

Not, I would hasten to acknowledge, do most recipients of awards bother to enquire how much is it worth.

My thoughts are meandering a bit from the artistic heights of Nobel to the valleys of rugby and recreation, intrigued by the news that the professional players are to select their Player of the Year shortly.

All 150 members of the Irish Rugby Union Players Association (IRUPA) will vote and choose one of their members for the distinction and I would hazard a bet that at the function in the Burlington Hotel next month, they will imbibe a bit more than a small port.

And it's for a good cause too, as IRUPA is a non-profit organisation and proceeds will go to injured players. No awards and prizes in any category are to be summarily dismissed.

I knew a couple of students, residents in Los Angeles, who earned some decent pocket money for the chore of occupying seats at the Academy Awards.

The problem for the Academy organisers is that the event is so prolonged that the people attending tend to become bored and depart for long sessions to the bars for a small port -- or two.

Empty seats don't look good in the television shots, so my two students man the barricades and save certain blushes.

As for the Player of the Year, the nominations for the perusal of the voters are Leinster's Isa Nacewa and Sean O'Brien and Munster's Keith Earls. There are other categories, unsung player, young player and try of the year.

Now, I shouldn't interfere, but I will. I believe that Nacewa will be acclaimed Player of the Year and also that dynamic try against Leicester at the Aviva will top that vote.

Nacewa's form all season has been outstanding and I would suggest that he will be accepted as the top full-back in European rugby.

He played once for Fiji and that has ruled him out of qualifying for Ireland, or for the All Blacks. Nacewa was one of 25 Auckland players who departed for greener pastures after the team had gone unbeaten in 2007 towards another Ranfurly Shield success.

Leinster might well consider a new Yeatsian slogan towards their star man Isa Nacewa: "How much is he worth?"

Irish Independent