O'Driscoll claims another accolade
January 12, 2010
Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll has been honoured by the Rugby Union Writers' Club
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- Ireland's Grand Slam captain Brian O'Driscoll has won the prestigious Rugby Union Writers' Club Pat Marshall Memorial Award as the sport's outstanding personality for 2009.
British and Irish Lions head coach Sir Ian McGeechan is also honoured, receiving the RUWC's discretionary Special Award for his services to rugby. The awards will be presented at a gala ceremony in London tonight, although O'Driscoll has sent a video message from Dublin where he is preparing for Leinster's Heineken Cup clash with Brive on Saturday.
O'Driscoll, 30, 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. O'Driscoll then embarked on a third British and Irish Lions tour and was a key figure for McGeechan's side in a remarkable series against world champions South Africa.
McGeechan, who won the Pat Marshall Award in 1990 after guiding Scotland to a Five Nations Grand Slam, is honoured again by the RUWC less than a fortnight after receiving a knighthood. 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 masterminded series victories over Australia in 1989 and South Africa in 1997 and most recently took charge for the 2009 series against the Springboks - lost 2-1.
- Ospreys coach Sean Holly has warned absent centre Gavin Henson that he may never regain his top form.
The 27-year-old Wales international is currently on unpaid leave from the region and has not played for nine months following a catalogue of injuries. The Guardian also reports that Henson is unlikely to play again this season after losing three stones in weight since opting for a career break.
"Gavin has been out for a long time and he would have to ease his way back in," said the Holley, who is set for talks with the player about a return to action. "Rugby changes so quickly these days that it takes time for a player to get back to near where he was after a prolonged absence. I remember when we signed Leigh Davies [the former Wales centre] in 2005. He had taken a year out of the game, and while he was able to get his fitness and conditioning back to where they were, he struggled to get to grips with the way rugby had moved on even in the relatively short time he had been out and it did not work for him.
"I am not saying that would be the case with Gavin. He would be able to get his weight back on and his fitness up to scratch, but after that who knows? Gavin has kept the door open by keeping up his drug testing schedule. In terms of natural talent, he is as good as anyone in the game today, but he will almost be starting from scratch again."
- England's forthcoming Six Nations match against Wales will become Europe's first live 3D sports broadcast.Team sponsors O2 have announced that rugby fans will be able to take advantage of the latest 3D technology at 40 Odeon and Cineworld cinemas across the UK on February 6. England's Six Nations match against Ireland on February 27 will also be screened live in 3D.
- The Magners League fixtures that fell victim to the the freezing temperatures last weekend are set to be re-scheduled during the forthcoming Six Nations meaning some sides will be stripped of their internationals.
The Irish Times reports that the matches must be made up either on the Heineken Cup/European Challenge Cup quarter-final weekend (April 9-11) or during the international window. "We'll see how teams progress in the Heineken Cup because obviously that might free up some ERC weekends for us," said Celtic Rugby director David Jordan.
"The other option would be to play through the international windows so, clearly, some teams would rather play with full-strength sides so if we can utilise some ERC weekends then they might consider doing that."
Jordan was also asked when a decision will be made public regarding the proposed entry of two Italian teams into the Magners League next season. "The discussions are ongoing," he said. "We have no defined date [for the Celtic board to vote on Italian clubs entry] but clearly we have to be mindful about planning for next season. There will come a point in time if matters aren't resolved then it will not happen next season. There is no decision made yet."
- Saracens have announced that 11 members of its current squad have committed their futures to the club after signing new contracts. In the backs, Noah Cato, Adam Powell, Neil de Kock, Kameli Ratuvou, Rodd Penney, Chris Wyles and James Short have all signed new deals while forwards Hayden Smith, Mouritz Botha, Justin Melck and Rhys Gill have joined them in extending their stay with the Guinness Premiership club.
- Cardiff Blues' New Zealand born-lock Paul Tito has ruled out a call-up to the Wales squad unless coach Warren Gatland was in "dire, dire need" of second row cover.
The 31-year-old former New Zealand Maori and U21 international, who joined the Blues in 2007 and took on the captaincy the following season, will qualify for Wales in the summer having fulfilled the three-year residency criteria but he has played down suggestions he could be about to resurrect his international career. "If Wales were in massive dire, dire need I'd probably have a think about it," Tito told BBC Sport. "But they've got five or six guys that can do the job and have been there for a long time and they'll probably stick with those guys. So I'll continue to do what I have been doing and knocking on the door for the Blues and do the best that I can do here."
- Gloucester have announced that prop Nick Wood has signed a new three year contract with the club. The 27-year-old, who has represented England at U21s and Saxons level, was also part of the England 2009 summer squad for the matches against the Barbarians and Argentina. "It's good to get it done. I've been at Gloucester my whole career and couldn't really see myself anywhere else," the player commented.
- Worcester Warriors have agreed a new two-year deal with winger Marcel Garvey. Former Gloucester speedster Garvey, 26, will now remain at the club until at least 2012.
- Northampton have announced that Lee Dickson has signed a new contract with the club. The 24-year-old scrum-half, who was part of the England Saxons squad that claimed the 2007 Churchill Cup, has been a virtual ever-present since arriving from Newcastle Falcons in the summer of 2008. "I don't want to get carried away, but the squad has belief and we can achieve what we want to if we put our mind to it. I want to be a part of something special here and play as well as I can," said Dickson.