Bowe beats French victors to Six Nations player award
FOR the second consecutive season, Ireland has produced the Six Nations player of the championship with Tommy Bowe taking over the mantle from Brian O'Driscoll.
Bowe polled nearly 50pc of the votes cast and comfortably beat four of France's Grand Slam-winning team to the award. The French No 8 Imanol Harinordoquy was second with 20.9pc.
The Monaghan man scored three tries in what was an ultimately disappointing campaign for the defending champions, who lost to France and missed out on the Triple Crown with a defeat to Scotland.
"It has been a championship of mixed emotions for the Irish team but to be named the player of the championship is a fantastic way to end what has been an exciting year," said Bowe.
The shortlist of six also featured France's captain Thierry Dusautoir and centre Mathieu Bastareaud, plus Wales wing Shane Williams.
Meanwhile, it was confirmed yesterday that England official Dave Pearson will referee the Heineken Cup quarter-final clash between Leinster and Clermont at the RDS on April 9, while Welsh referee Nigel Owens takes charge of Munster's tie with Northampton at Thomond Park the following night.
The other two quarter-finals will both be refereed by Irishmen, with George Clancy from Limerick appointed to take control of the clash between Biarritz and Ospreys in San Sebastian and Cork's Alan Lewis given the Toulouse and Stade Francais encounter on April 11.
Elsewhere, former Irish full-back Conor O'Shea is keen to leave the bloodgate scandal in the past as he gets to grip with his new role as Harlequins director of rugby.
"You are your history, bloodgate is part of the history," he said as he prepares for his first game, against Bath at the Rec tomorrow. "That's a chapter which hasn't been written in the official club histories yet -- there is a need to move on."