26 May 14
Steffon Armitage of Heineken Cup champions, RC Toulon, has been named ERC European Player of the Year 2014.
The prestigious award crowned an outstanding season for the full-back who started every one of Leinster's nine European games as the Irish club triumphed in the Heineken Cup for an unprecedented third time in four years. Kearney succeeds teammate, Sean O'Brien, as the winner of northern hemisphere rugby's ultimate individual accolade.
The 26-year-old scored six tries during the campaign and pushed himself into contention for the honour with a series of high-quality displays in the tournament's pool and knockout stages.
Kearney scored two tries in the quarter-final victory over the Cardiff Blues, then followed that up by creating a try for Cian Healy and landing a superb drop goal in the thrilling semi-final success against ASM Clermont Auvergne, before playing a key role in Leinster's record-breaking 42-14 final win over Ulster Rugby at Twickenham Stadium.
Kearney was presented with his award, a specially struck gold medal, by ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath, at a ceremony in ERC offices in Dublin today (Monday, 21 May 2012).
"Rob was both rock-solid in defence and inspirational in attack during what was another magnificent Heineken Cup campaign for our 2012 champions, Leinster," said McGrath. "He scored six tries, ran powerfully, kicked superbly and the sheer all-round quality of his performances made him an excellent choice as ERC European Player of the Year 2012."
"It really is an honour to have won this award," said Kearney. "While I am delighted with the recognition, an individual player is powerless without the support of his teammates. So I owe this to the Leinster squad, to the management and to all the backroom staff at the club."
ROB KEARNEY FACTFILE
Born: 26 March 1986, Dundalk, County Louth
Height: 1.85m / 6'1"
Weight: 95kg / 14st 13lbs
School: Clongowes Wood College
Province: Leinster Rugby
Heineken Cup appearances: 43
Ireland caps: 38
British & Irish Lions tests: 3 (v South Africa, 2009)
|Stephen Ferris (Ulster Rugby)||Jonny Sexton (Leinster Rugby)|
|Rob Kearney (Leinster Rugby)||Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)|
|Ruan Pienaar (Ulster Rugby)|
|Mouritz Botha (Saracens)||Jonny Sexton (Leinster Rugby)|
|Mike Brown (Harlequins)||Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby)|
|Antoine Claassen (Brive)||Timoci Matanavou (Toulouse)|
|Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse)||Ignacio Mieres (Exeter Chiefs)|
|Owen Farrell (Saracens)||Ben Morgan (Scarlets)|
|Stephen Ferris (Ulster Rugby)||Ronan O'Gara (Munster Rugby)|
|Wesley Fofana (ASM Clermont Auvergne)||Netani Talei (Edinburgh Rugby)|
|Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues)|
Stuart Barnes (Sky Sports), Stephen Jones (Sunday Times), Raphael Ibanez (Heineken Cup winner), Emmanuel Massicard (Midi Olympique), Gerry Thornley (Irish Times).