O'Gara named europe's best
RONAN O'GARA'S contribution to Munster rugby was acknowledged yesterday when the out-half was named as the inaugural winner of the ERC European Player award, writes Hugh Farrelly.
Being rated Europe's best player of the past 15 years is considerable honour for the 33-year-old and recognises the role he has played in steering Munster to two Heineken Cup titles and 12 successive quarter-finals during which time he has amassed 1,138 points. Toulouse's Guy Noves received the Best Coach award, while veteran Cardiff flanker Martyn Williams scooped the Fair Play award.
Munster have three players on the European Dream Team, selected to recognise the best players in the Heineken and Challenge Cups dating back to 1995. O'Gara is joined by flanker David Wallace and No 8 Anthony Foley, while Leinster centre Brian O'Driscoll and Leicester full-back Geordan Murphy bring Ireland's quota to five.
Rocky Elsom, the Australian blindside who played an inspirational role in Leinster's march to their first Heineken cup last year, is also named, with Stade Francais prop Sylvain Marconnet the only player not to have won a Heineken Cup title.
The side was selected by a nine-man panel of Ian McGeechan, Lawrence Dallaglio, Ieuan Evans, Fabien Galthie, Donal Lenihan, Michael Lynagh, Stuart Barnes, Stephen Jones and Jacques Verdier.
EUROPEAN PLAYER AWARD
ERC EUROPEAN COACH AWARD
EUROPEAN DREAM TEAM
15 Geordan Murphy (Leicester)
14 Josh Lewsey (London Wasps)
13 Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster)
12 Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse)
11 Vincent Clerc (Toulouse)
10 Ronan O'Gara (Munster)
9 Rob Howley (London Wasps)
1 Christian Califano (Toulouse)
2 William Servat (Toulouse)
3 Sylvain Marconnet (Stade Français Paris)
4 Martin Johnson (Leicester Tigers)
5 Fabien Pelous (Toulouse)
6 Rocky Elsom (Leinster)
7 David Wallace (Munster)
8 Anthony Foley (Munster)