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Action Images photographer scoops prestigious award

Action Images' Henry Browne has won the IRB/Emirates Airline Rugby Photograph of the Year 2009 competition with a photograph featuring Samoa international Seilala Mapusua scoring a try for English club London Irish against Leicester Tigers.

Both Browne and Mapusua attended the announcement made at Twickenham World Rugby Museum today during the launch of the IRB World Rugby Yearbook 2010, which features the shortlisted photographs and the winning entry in a special section.

The winning image, entitled 'The Flying Samoan' and taken at the Madejski Stadium on March 1, 2009, captures perfectly the sheer passion and enjoyment that can be found in Rugby and the special relationship that players share with their fans.

View the IRB/Emirates Airline Rugby Photograph of the Year 2009

- Seilala Mapusua - 'The Flying Samoan'
- Paul Morgan, Editor Rugby World & IRB Yearbook, Chairman Judging Panel

"This image of an elite athlete at the top of his game clearly loving the sport he plays is something which will inspire youngsters to be part of Rugby, and captures an essential element of our Game," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.

"Henry's picture evokes great emotion and reflects all that is good about Rugby. Rugby is a sport with a rich heritage of fair play, respect, camaraderie, teamwork and friendship and these qualities remain integral to the Spirit of Rugby, the category by which the photographs were judged."

The picture was chosen from more than 500 entries received from professional and amateur photographers in 28 countries by a panel of judges including Paul Morgan (Editor, Rugby World), sports photographers Dave Rogers (Getty Images) and Patrick Eagar, Barry Newcombe (Sports Journalists' Association), Joelle Watkins (Emirates Airline Corporate Communications Manager) and Jim Drewett (Vision Sport Publishing).

The panel selected a shortlist of six photographs from the record entry, before finally confirming Browne's picture as the winner. He follows in the footsteps of Morgan Treacy's "Mud, glorious mud", Andrew Orchard's "Commitment" and Matthew Impey's "Gladiator" as winners of the prestigious competition.

"I was very surprised to hear I had won, it was brilliant news. It was just a great try picture, as soon as I had taken it I thought that is a brilliant picture. He was clean through to score so I thought he was going to do something like that, but it came out really well. There are some good ones in the shortlist, I like the Clive Rose one, the Winners Circle, I think that is a really nice shot. That is probably my favourite out of them," said winning photographer Browne.

His prize is an all inclusive trip for two to the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens on 4-5 December, the opening tournament of the record-breaking 2009/10 IRB Sevens World Series, courtesy of Emirates Airline.

Action Images is the specialist sports arm of Reuters, the world
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