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University honours notable graduates at 2023 UCD Alumni Awards

Posted 29 November 2023

UCD graduate Josh van der Flier has been recognised at the (opens in a new window)2023 UCD Alumni Awards for his sporting achievements, notably becoming one of only three Irish players ever to be awarded the prestigious World Rugby Men's 15s Player of the Year.

The Irish flanker, and former UCD Ad Astra Elite scholar, was awarded the 'UCD Alumni Award in Sport', and was one of nine high achieving alumni whose outstanding accomplishments were honoured at the annual event. 

The worthy recipients of the (opens in a new window)2023 Alumni Awards were:

  • UCD Alumni Award in Arts and Humanities: Olivia O'Leary, BA 1969 (English, French, Spanish)
  • UCD Alumni Award in Business: Kerry McLaverty, EMBA 2017
  • UCD Alumni Award in Engineering and Architecture: Malachy Browne, BE 1997 (Electronic)
  • UCD Alumni Award in Health and Agricultural Sciences, Rachel Kenna, BSc (Nursing Mangt)
  • UCD Alumni Award in Law: Aedamar Comiskey, BCL 1988
  • UCD Alumni Award in Research, Innovation and Impact: Dr Eileen Furlong, BSc 1992 (Pharmacology), PhD 1996 (Pharmacology)
  • UCD Alumni Award in Science: Dr Margaret Faul, BSc 1986 (Chemistry), MSc 1988 (Chemistry)
  • UCD Alumni Award in Social Sciences: Dr Alison Darcy BA 1999 (Psychology), MLitt 2005 (Psychology), PhD 2007 (Psychology)
  • UCD Alumni Award in Sport: Josh van der, Flier Dip Sports Management 2013, BSc (Sports & Exercise Management) 2017

An Irish rugby union player for Leinster and Ireland, who also played for UCD Rugby during his time as a student at the University, Josh van der Flier is consistently one of rugby's top performers on the pitch. 

In July 2022, he was a member of the Ireland rugby team that secured a historic first win over the All Blacks on New Zealand soil. 

He played in all three test matches and scored a try in the final test. In the same year, he was became only the third Irishman to be named World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year and was also selected for the World Rugby Men’s 15’s Dream Team of the Year. 

Fellow UCD alumni Jonathan Sexton was the winner of World Rugby Player of the Year in 2018.

He was also crowned the EPCR European Player of the Year, Leinster Rugby Players’ Player of the Year, Rugby Players Ireland Players’ Player of the Year and Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year in 2022 in a unanimous vote.

At this year's Rugby World Cup Josh was one of the more than 13 UCD alumni selected to play for Ireland.

The UCD Alumni Awards were introduced in 2014 to acknowledge the achievements of notable graduates from among the over 300,000 UCD alumni across 189 countries around the world.

Previous awardees include; former Irish Ambassador to the US, Anne Anderson, medal winning Olympian Eimear Lambe, the first female President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland,  Professor Mary Horgan, journalist Fintan O’Toole, costume designer Consolata Boyle and Oscar winning director and screenwriter Neil Jordan. 

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations

To contact the UCD News & Content Team, email: newsdesk@ucd.ie