The final shortlist for the official RBS Player of the Championship of the 2010 RBS 6 Nations has been announced, with a fan's poll to decide the result now open on www.rbs6nations.com.
With France now favourites to lift the trophy on Saturday, four French names dominate the shortlist of six players with Imanol Harinordoquy, Mathieu Bastareaud, Morgan Parra and Thierry Dusautoir all receiving a nod. 2008 RBS Player of the Championship Shane Williams offers a Welsh nomination and Ireland's Tommy Bowe finishes the list of six players competing for the accolade.
A panel of former internationals from all six nations submitted their top three nominations, from which the shortlist of six nominees was compiled. Panelists included BBC Sport pundits Keith Wood, Raphaël Ibañez and Jonathan Davies, RBS RugbyForce supporters Andy Nicol, Ieuan Evans and Jason Leonard, as well as former RBS Ambassador Alessandro Moscardi who ensured an Italian vote was cast. The panel were asked to base their decision on performance, form and achievement throughout this year's Tournament so far.
Despite the French Championship victories of 2006 and 2007, Brian O'Driscoll has taken the trophy home to Dublin in three out of the past four years, proving that RBS Player of the Championship is not always awarded to a member of the winning team. Previous RBS Player of the Championship, Shane Williams went on to win the highly coveted IRB Player of the Year award in the same year (2008), so victory for this year's winner is sure to be a sign of great things to come.
The 2010 RBS Player of the Championship will be decided as a result of a public vote, hosted on www.rbs6nations.com. Voting will continue through the final week of the Championship, and will close after the final round of matches, at Midnight on Monday 22nd March.
Once the votes have been counted and verified, the announcement of the official RBS Player of the Championship will be issued to press during the following week. Opportunities for media access will be advised and confirmed nearer the time.
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For further information on the RBS 6 Nations and the RBS Player of the Championship award, please contact: -
RBS 6 Nations Press Office
+44 (0)20 3128 6826
+44 (0)07793 035217
Notes to Editors:
RBS Player of the Championship - previous winners
2009 - Brian O'Driscoll
2008 - Shane Williams
2007 - Brian O'Driscoll
2006 - Brian O'Driscoll
RBS & Rugby
The RBS 6 Nations Championship is unique in its benefit to the rugby community. In addition to making the 15-game event possible from an operational and promotional standpoint, the RBS sponsorship of the Championship supports the sport on many levels. Over the seven seasons of Six Nations sponsorship to date, RBS is proud to have directly initiated a number of programmes and activities which directly benefit the community through both promotion and development of the sport.
* RBS RugbyForce encourages communities across the UK to give something back to their local rugby club. The RBS RugbyForce weekend (5th & 6th June 2010) brings together club members, family, friends and supporters in one big weekend of hard work and fun, encouraging volunteers to spend some time at their local club, helping with the required improvements to make their club the best it can be. 200 clubs receive additional support from RBS to host their weekend, while three spotlight clubs will be chosen to receive a substantial additional grant. www.rbs6nations.com/rugbyforce
* RBS has an established volunteer programme that encourages staff to work with a number of charity partners as part of team-building activities. RBS RugbyForce will be incorporated into this scheme in 2010.
* The RBS 6 Nations partnership with The Prince's Trust works with 32 Prince's Trust xl clubs across England, Scotland and Wales to apply rugby's team-based values to help young people struggling at school. Working with the English, Welsh and Scottish rugby Unions, the scheme has helped almost 1,200 young people since the launch of the joint initiative in 2005.
* For the second year, RBS is supporting The Daily Mail RBS Schools Cup - a tournament open to 4,600 rugby playing schools in England at U15 and U18 level with the final held at Twickenham. 2010 has seen the introduction of the 'Real Rugby Hero Awards' to recognise and reward individuals who offer committed contributions to the development of schools rugby. Each of the ten winners were invited to attend an RBS 6 Nations game plus being awarded prizes for their school.
* RBS MoneySense for Clubs - RBS's financial advisory service, RBS MoneySense offers general advice about money management. Rugby clubs across the UK can benefit from independent business guidance to help manage their financial income and spending programme, to ensure the club fulfils its potential in the local community.
Lucie Bartlett, RBS 6 Nations Media Office
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Christine Connolly - Communications Manager, Six Nations
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Omar Mohammed, RBS Media Centre
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