Welshman Williams named top rugby player - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Welshman Williams named top rugby player

24/11/2008 02:13:49 PM Comments (0)

Welsh winger Shane Williams, who played a pivotal role in his team's 2008 Six Nations triumph, has been named the International Rugby Board player of the year.

The 31-year-old saw off competition from Wales captain Ryan Jones, New Zealand five-eighth Dan Carter, Scotland captain Mike Blair and Italy skipper Sergio Parisse to land the award at a gala dinner in London.

Pint-sized Williams scored six tries in the 2008 Six Nations and was named player of the tournament as Wales won the grand slam.

He also broke Gareth Thomas' try-scoring record in the title-clinching victory over France and has now scored 43 tries in 60 Tests - 14 of them in his last 13 Tests - after making his debut against Italy in 2000.

Williams has also represented the British and Irish Lions, winning caps against Argentina and New Zealand three years ago.

"It's quite mad to be honest," he said.

"It's been a hell of a year and this has just capped it off really. It's the biggest honour you can get as an individual in rugby and it's totally overwhelming.

"Just being nominated was humbling. And to receive the award from Bryan Habana, who is one of the best - if not the best - winger in the world means so much to me."

The All Blacks took the IRB team of the year award and Graham Henry was named coach of the year.

"It's been very satisfying," said Henry, whose side defeated the Welsh on Saturday and will tackle England at Twickenham next weekend.

"There have been 15 or so players who left us after the World Cup to play in this part of the world so it's great to have a team that's relatively young and inexperienced come through and do the business."

New Zealand, who suffered a nightmare 2007 World Cup when they were beaten in the quarter-finals, bounced back in style this year to take the Tri-Nations title.

Former Wallabies captain Sir Nicholas Shehadie received the Vernon Pugh Award for distinguished service to rugby.

Shehadie, a former Australian Rugby Union president who captained the Wallabies in three of his 30 Tests from 1947 to 1958, was acknowledged as one of the principal architects behind the establishment of the Rugby World Cup.

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