Awards for Brian O'Driscoll and Sir Ian McGeechan

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 was presented at a gala ceremony in London last night, although O'Driscoll has sent a video message from Dublin, where he is preparing for Leinster's Heineken Cup clash with Brive on Saturday.

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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.

The Lions fell agonisingly short but O'Driscoll's individual performances confirmed his status as one of the game's greatest players.

Although the RUWC award is for the season 2008-09, O'Driscoll enjoyed a measure of revenge when he captained Ireland to victory over the Springboks in November to complete an unbeaten year for Declan Kidney's side.

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.

The 2009 tour ended in a 2-1 series defeat to the Springboks but it was deemed a roaring success as McGeechan succeeded in resurrecting the Lions concept.