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Joe Schmidt given special award; James Ryan named Rugby Writers Player of the Year

Joe Schmidt has been recognised for his contribution to Irish rugby.

James Ryan has been named Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Men’s Player of the Year.

The outgoing Ireland head coach was awarded the Tom Rooney award at the annual Guinness Rugby Writers Awards.

Schmidt has led Ireland to three Six Nations championships including the 2018 Grand Slam.

He also secured Ireland's first series wins in Argentina and Australia, a first victory on South African soil in June 2016 and victory against the All Blacks in Chicago and at the Aviva.

During his time with Leinster, they won two Heineken Cups, a Challenge Cup and the 2013 Pro 12 title.

Schmidt was delighted to receive the accolade, saying: “It is a real honour to receive the Guinness Rugby Writers Tom Rooney Award. 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 and Munster back-row Ciara Griffin was named Women's Player of the Year, and the Ireland men's under-20s were crowned team of the year.