O'Driscoll caps outstanding year with writers' accolade
BRIAN O'Driscoll has won another top award -- this time being honoured by the rugby writers of England.
Ireland's Grand Slam-winning captain last night scooped the prestigious English Rugby Union Writers' Club Pat Marshall Memorial Award as the sport's outstanding personality for 2009.
Lions head coach Ian McGeechan was also honoured, receiving the discretionary Special Award for his services to rugby.
The awards were presented at a gala ceremony in London last night when O'Driscoll sent a video message from Dublin where he is preparing for Leinster's Heineken Cup clash with Brive on Saturday.
O'Driscoll has been recognised for a triumphant season in which he conquered Europe with Ireland, who won the Grand Slam under his leadership for the first time in 61 years, and with Leinster in the Heineken Cup.
The 30-year-old skipper then embarked on a third Lions tour and was a key figure for McGeechan's side in a remarkable series against world champions South Africa.
The Lions fell agonisingly short but O'Driscoll's individual performances confirmed his status as one of the game's greatest players.
Although the award is for the season 2008-09, O'Driscoll enjoyed a measure of revenge when he captained Ireland to victory over the Springboks in November to complete an unbeaten year for Declan Kidney's side.
McGeechan, who won the Pat Marshall Award in 1990 after guiding Scotland to a Five Nations Grand Slam, was honoured again just a fortnight after receiving a knighthood in Britain.
The former Headingley and Scotland centre has served on seven tours of duty with the Lions -- two as a player (1974 and 1977) and five as a coach, four of them as head coach. McGeechan was the mastermind behind series victories over Australia in 1989 and South Africa in 1997.