Robbie Henshaw (centre) with Ireland colleagues Jonathan Sexton and Bundee Aki. Photo: IRFU.

Player of the Year awards for two local stars

Robbie Henshaw has been named Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Men’s Player of the Year after a series of impressive performances for Leinster, Ireland and the British & Irish Lions.

The Athlone native was a key player on the Lions tour of South Africa, starting all three tests against the Springboks last summer and was a consistent contributor to the successes of both Irish and Leinster rugby over the season.

Henshaw had previously been selected as the Zurich Men’s Players’ Player of the Year for 2021 by his fellow players.

Ballinasloe’s Béibhinn Parsons has been awarded Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Women’s Player of the Year for the second year running.

This incredible achievement for the Ireland and Connacht star comes off the back of some immense performances during the 2020/2021 season.

Parsons once again has proved herself to be one of stars of the Irish squad, capable of scoring amazing tries and digging deep when needed.

Béibhinn Parsons of Ireland pictured during a Women's Six Nations match versus Italy in 2020. Photo: Sportsfile. Photo by Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Henshaw was thrilled to receive the recognition, saying it was a "a privilege" to receive the award and "to follow in the footsteps of many great players who have won it in the past".

“The 2020/2021 season was a great and, for me personally, it was probably one of my best seasons for Leinster and Ireland. It was nice to get a good run of games together and to top it all off, being selected for the Lions at the end of the season was brilliant," said Henshaw, who began his rugby career as a youngster with Buccaneers RFC.

"I’m really enjoying my rugby at the moment and I’m looking forward to what 2022 holds for both Leinster and Ireland,” added the Coosan native.

Parsons was also delighted by the award, saying it was “truly incredible” to be recognised for the second time.

“To be able to represent my country and province and receive an award for doing something I love is an absolute honour,” said Parsons.

“As a team, we are determined to hit the ground running in 2022 and we’ll continue to put everything into our rugby to get where we want to be,” added Béibhinn.

Terry Kennedy is the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland 7s Player of the Year. Kennedy proved indispensable for the Sevens team during their qualification bid for Tokyo 2020.

The Leinster Rugby team was named the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Dave Guiney Team of the Year for the second year in a row. Leinster enjoyed an impressive season which culminated in them being crowned the Guinness Pro14 champions for the fourth consecutive season.

Also recognised is Railway Union RFC, who was awarded Club of the Year for 2021 in recognition of their promotion of women’s rugby.

In December 2021, former Ireland and current Wasps rugby player Claire Molloy and former Ireland star Simon Geoghegan were inducted into the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Hall of Fame.

Meanwhile, former Ireland and Munster rugby player Billy Holland was named as the recipient of the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Tom Rooney Award for the 2020/2021 season.

Sinead Kissane, Chairperson of the Rugby Writers of Ireland, congratulated all the award winners.

“It is important to recognise the talent and dedication of those who make huge contributions to Irish rugby,” she said.