Barrett and Hunter named World Rugby Players of the Year 2016

New Zealand’s Beauden Barrett and England’s Sarah Hunter have been named World Rugby Men’s and Women’s Players of the Year 2016, respectively, at the World Rugby Awards in London on Sunday.

Fly-half Barrett becomes the fifth All Black in a row to receive the prestigious award, following in the footsteps of Daniel Carter (2012 and 2015), Kieran Read (2013) and Brodie Retallick (2014).

He received the award ahead of five other nominees – team-mate Dane Coles, England trio of number eight Billy Vunipola, second-row Maro Itoje and fly-half Owen Farrell and Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip.

“It means so much and it is certainly not something I expected to be awarded, or even to have my name thrown in the mix with the talented players we saw nominated. It’s a by-product of a couple of great teams I have been a part of this year, the Hurricanes and the All Blacks. I have to thank the coaches and my team-mates around me because without them I wouldn’t be here.”

England captain Sarah Hunter was named the World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year 2016 only hours after her side beat Ireland 12-10 in their second test of a busy November schedule.

She received the award ahead of two other nominees in New Zealand captain Fiao’o Fa’amausili and France captain Gaëlle Mignot.

“It is a huge honour and one I didn’t expect to get being up against being up against two fantastic candidates in Fiao’o and Gaëlle,” said Hunter. “I wouldn’t be receiving this without my team-mates and the fantastic team behind us so they are as worthy of this as I am.”

Australia’s Olympic gold medallist Charlotte Caslick was named World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC, with South Africa’s Seabelo Senatla receiving the men’s award.

The race to be crowned World Rugby Team of the Year and Coach of the Year were extremely competitive with New Zealand and Steve Hansen earning the vote of the independent panel.

Fiji and Australia’s achievement in winning the first Olympic rugby sevens gold medals was recognised through a perpetual silver salver presented by IOC member Octavian Morariu.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “We have witnessed an exceptional 2016 on and off the field featuring a game-changing return to the Olympic Games after 92 years, compelling men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and of course a captivating year of 15s tests and championships.

“With so much collective and personal achievement during the year, it was very tough selecting our awards winners. The All Blacks were again dominant and thoroughly deserve their accolades, though the exploits of Fiji and Australia at the Olympics and a resurgent England under Eddie Jones were notable too.

“I would like to congratulate all our winners and nominees this evening and look forward to what promises to be a very special 2017 with the Women’s Rugby World Cup, the men’s and women’s sevens series and the British and Irish Lions tour.”

The award winners were selected by independent panels, who voted on every match from the Six Nations through to the start of the November internationals. For more details on the respective awards panels, click here.

World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year – Beauden Barrett, New Zealand

Any fears New Zealand fans may have had about the number 10 jersey following Dan Carter’s retirement have been eased by the scintillating displays of Beauden Barrett in 2016, the 25-year-old having carried his Super Rugby form onto the international stage. The attack-minded player, equally at home at fly-half or full-back, has scored seven tries in 2016 with defences often left flat-footed by his step and turn of pace.

Nominees: Beauden Barrett (New Zealand), Dane Coles (New Zealand), Owen Farrell (England), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Billy Vunipola (England)

World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year – Sarah Hunter, England

A veteran of 83 tests and the fifth most-capped England women’s player of the all-time, Sarah Hunter has been ever present for the Red Roses in 2016, scoring a try in their opening Six Nations match against Scotland as they finished runners-up to France and again to Canada in the Women’s Rugby Super Series in July. A Women’s Rugby World Cup winner in 2014, the number eight will be a key player for England in a November campaign which sees them play the other teams in the world’s top five.

Nominees: Gaëlle Mignot (France), Fiao’o Fa’amausili (New Zealand)

World Rugby Team of the Year – New Zealand

New Zealand may have come up short in their bid to set a new world record for the most consecutive test victories with defeat to Ireland last weekend, but the All Blacks have picked up where they left off at RWC 2015 with some scintillating displays of attacking rugby in 2016 to complete a series whitewash of Wales in June, win the Rugby Championship with six bonus-point wins and retain the Bledisloe Cup for a 14th success year. This is the seventh year in a row and the 10th time overall that New Zealand have been named Team of the Year.

Nominees: England, Fiji Sevens

World Rugby Coach of the Year – Steve Hansen, New Zealand

Steve Hansen has seamlessly managed to transition the All Blacks through the retirements of key figures like Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith after RWC 2015 and blood exciting young players in 2016 as the All Blacks continued to the push the bar ever higher with their performances on the pitch. This is the fourth time in five years since succeeding Graham Henry that Hansen has received the Coach of the Year accolade.

Nominees: Eddie Jones (England), Ben Ryan (Fiji Sevens)

World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year – Maro Itoje, England

Maro Itoje has taken to test rugby with such a calmness and maturity that it’s easy to forget he only made his debut off the bench against Italy in February. A towering presence in the lineout, the 22-year-old has started six further tests, including all three against Australia in June, and is a player destined for a bright future in the game. The second-row is equally happy in the back row and has also won the Premiership and European Rugby Champions Cup double with Saracens in 2016.

Nominees: Anton Lienert-Brown (New Zealand), Ardie Savea (New Zealand)

World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Seabelo Senatla, South Africa

A try-scoring machine on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, the South African flyer crossed for 66 tries in 10 events in the 2015-16 series – the second-highest in the 17-year history of the series – and four at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. With pace to burn and lightning-quick feet, the sight of the 23-year-old’s back was a familiar one for many a team on the world stage as he sniffed out a gap and raced away for try after try.

Nominees: Osea Kolinisau (Fiji), Virimi Vakatawa (France)

World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Charlotte Caslick, Australia

Playing with a maturity way beyond her 21 years, Charlotte Caslick has been a central figure in Australia’s dominance of women’s sevens over the past 12 months, which yielded a maiden HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series title and the first women’s Olympic gold medal in rugby. An inspiration on and off the pitch, Caslick as playmaker is at the heart of everything Australia do and is blessed with great vision and speed of thought, nimble footwork and a turn of pace. She has also come to relish the tackling aspect of the game.

Nominees: Emily Scarratt (England/Great Britain), Portia Woodman (New Zealand)

World Rugby Referee Award – Alhambra Nievas (Spain) and Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)

Alhambra Nievas and Rasta Rasivhenge had the honour of refereeing the men’s and women’s Olympic gold medal matches in Rio to bring the curtain down on impressive seasons on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series match official panels. Nievas, nominated for the second year running and one of the leading women’s referees in 15s rugby, also took charge of three cup finals on the series in Sao Paulo, Langford and Clermont-Ferrand, while Rasivhenge officiated on both the men’s and women’s series, taking charge of the men’s finals in Sydney and Las Vegas.

Nominees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

Award for Character – Rugby Opens Borders, Austrian Rugby Union

Rugby Opens Borders, supported by the Austrian Rugby Union, gives young refugees and migrants the opportunity to become part of the rugby community, on and off the pitch, with weekly training sessions and social get-togethers. The project began in 2015 and has been successful in helping refugees to integrate in Austrian society, including providing tutoring to help open doors for a better education and brighter future.

Nominees: GingerCloud Foundation, Arieti Rugby Rieti

Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Syd Millar

A figure synonymous with Irish rugby, Syd Millar embraced all aspects of rugby from playing for his club Ballymena RFC to Ireland (39 tests) and the British and Irish Lions (nine tests), before coaching and managing both Ireland and the Lions. The 82-year-old, who was World Rugby Chairman from 2003-07, was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2009.

IRPA Try of the Year – Jamie Heaslip (Ireland, v Italy)

Voted for by rugby fans on Twitter and guests at the World Rugby Awards, Jamie Heaslip’s score for Ireland against Italy was named the IRPA (International Rugby Players’ Association) Try of the Year 2016 with a 57 per cent share of the 16,000 votes cast. The try began deep in Ireland’s own 22 with the ball going through numerous pairs of hands before the number eight, up in support, had the strength to power over the line.

Nominees: Kaito Shigeno (Japan, v Scotland), TJ Perenara (New Zealand, v Argentina)

IRPA Special Merit Award – Jean de Villiers, South Africa

A veteran of 109 tests for South Africa, Jean de Villiers brought the curtain down on his 13-year international career after breaking his jaw at Rugby World Cup 2015. The inspirational centre, a Rugby World Cup winner in 2007, captained his country on 37 occasions and scored 27 tries for the Springboks with former coach Heyneke Meyer labelling him “one of the greatest Springboks ever”.

Full list of World Rugby Awards winners

World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year – Beauden Barrett, New Zealand
World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year – Sarah Hunter, England
World Rugby Team of the Year – New Zealand
World Rugby Coach of the Year – Steve Hansen, New Zealand
World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year – Maro Itoje, England
World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Seabelo Senatla, South Africa
World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Charlotte Caslick, Australia
World Rugby Referee Award – Alhambra Nievas, Spain, and Rasta Rasivhenge, South Africa
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Syd Millar
Award for Character – Rugby Opens Borders, Austrian Rugby Union
IRPA Special Merit Award – Jean de Villiers, South Africa
IRPA Try of the Year – Jamie Heaslip, Ireland
Special recognition of Olympic Games success: Australia’s women and Fiji’s men

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About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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