IN YET ANOTHER acknowledgement of his immense performances at both club and international level last season, James Ryan has this evening been named the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland [RWI] Men’s Player of the Year.

The Ireland and Leinster second row was recognised at the annual RWI awards dinner in Dublin on Wednesday evening, adding to the Zurich Players’ Player of the Year accolade he received back in May.

Ryan with his award at Carton House.

Ryan was also named Leinster’s Player of the Year after the 23-year-old further cemented his reputation as one of the best second rows in the world throughout the 2018/19 season.

The 17-time capped international helped Leinster to a second successive Champions Cup final and then back-to-back Guinness Pro14 titles last term, while also producing a series of big performances for Ireland throughout the Autumn internationals and Six Nations campaigns. 

Meanwhile, Joe Schmidt was honoured by the RWI for his immeasurable contribution to Irish rugby over the last nine years, the Ireland head coach being awarded the prestigious Tom Rooney award.

“It is a real honour to receive the Guinness Rugby Writers Tom Rooney Award,” he said.

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“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Ireland. My family and I feel that we have been made to feel part of the community here, right from the outset.

“We are not sure where we will be or what we’ll be doing next but I’m really looking forward to the exciting challenge that lies ahead in the upcoming Guinness Summer Series in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“The management and players at both Leinster and Ireland have been incredible to work with. I accept this award on all of their behalf and will be forever grateful to all of them for the privilege of working alongside them.”

Ireland, Munster and UL Bohemian back row Ciara Griffin was recognised as the Guinness RWI Women’s Player of the Year for her performances and leadership on and off the field throughout 2019.

Joe Schmidt with his RWI award.

The Dave Guiney Guinness RWI Team of the Year went to Noel McNamara’s Ireland U20s after their Grand Slam success, while Jordon Conroy and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe were awarded the first RWI Men’s and Women’s Sevens Players accolades.

Cork Constitution, who emerged as 2019 All-Ireland League champions, were named RWI Club of the Year, and Michael Kiernan was inducted into the Guinness RWI Hall of Fame.

Kiernan, who played for Ireland 43 times, was a member of the Irish team that won the Triple Crown in 1982 and 1985.

Best remembered for his famous drop goal in Lansdowne Road that secured victory against England to win the 1985 Triple Crown, Kiernan toured with the British and Irish Lions to New Zealand in 1983 and was a member of Ireland’s team at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987. 

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