The stars of rugby at the Salle des Etoiles, where else?
The legendary Salle des Etoiles at the Sporting Monte-Carlo, shined even brighter with the international rugby stars for the World Rugby Awards on Sunday, November 26, 2017, in the presence of T.S.H. Prince Albert and Princess Charlene. Prince Albert who did not want to miss this important rugby gathering, ended up missing the first period of the highly anticipated Monaco-PSG football match played that same evening.
Beauden Barrett and Portia Woodman have been named World Rugby Men’s and Women’s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard respectively, at the World Rugby Awards in Monte Carlo on Sunday, cheered by the best of the game past and present. (Photo insert: Portia Woodman of NZ and Beauden Barrett of NZ (Women’s and Men’s World Rugby Player of the Year Award in association with Mastercard)@Dave Rogers – WR/WR via Getty Images)
The two lists of honorable nominees, selected for exhibiting greatness and personifying rugby’s character-shaping principles, had been established by a panel of experts composed of world champions like Richi McCaw, John Smit, George Gregan, Maggie Alphonsi, Dlive Woodward, Brian O’Driscoll, Fabien Galthie and Agustin Pichot.
Beauden Barrett winning prestigious award back-to-back
Beauden Barrett, 26 years old in the All Black’s No.10 jersey, becomes only the second player to win the prestigious award two years in a row, matching the achievement of his former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw from 2009-10. He received the award ahead of four other nominees in All Blacks team-mate Rieko Ioane, England and British Lions duo Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje and Australia full-back Israel Folau.
Barrett said: “I’m very proud and surprised. I wanted to be better than last year and I still think I have plenty more to go. The Lions series put us under the most pressure I have probably felt in a black jersey and that’s a credit to the Lions. We learnt a lot from that series, particularly taking that into the World Cup. When I hang the boots up, that’s when I can look back and be really proud of this. I’ve got to thank my team. I am just one player amongst a great team.”
Portia Woodman joins the very best
The 26-year-old New Zealand winger Portia Woodman, was named the World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year 2017 after helping the Black Ferns win a fifth Women’s Rugby World Cup title in Ireland in August. She received the award ahead of four other nominees in Black Ferns team-mate Kelly Brazier, England winger Lydia Thompson and France back-row duo Romane Menager and Safi N’Diaye.
Woodman said: “Obviously just winning the Team of the Year award shows just how good our team is, and they make me look good. They do all the work and I am out there on the sideline just waiting for the ball. My mum wasn’t a big fan of me playing rugby, but I think she was going to support me no matter what and, without them (my parents), I obviously wouldn’t be where I am because they pushed me to do everything I can to the best of my ability.”
Full list of World Rugby Awards winners
The award winners were selected by an independent panel, who voted on every match from the Six Nations through to the start of the November internationals.
- World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year, in association with Mastercard – Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
- World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year, in association with Mastercard – Portia Woodman (New Zealand)
- World Rugby Team of the Year – New Zealand Women’s 15s
- World Rugby Coach of the Year – Eddie Jones (England)
- World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in association with TUDOR – Rieko Ioane (New Zealand)
- World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Perry Baker (USA)
- World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Michaela Blyde (New Zealand)
- World Rugby Referee Award – Joy Neville (Ireland)
- Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Marcel Martin (France)
- Award for Character – Eduardo Oderigo (Argentina)
- IRPA Special Merit Award – Richie McCaw (New Zealand) and Rachael Burford (England)
- IRPA Try of the Year – Joaquin Tuculet (Argentina, v England)
A message from World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “It has been an outstanding 2017 for rugby on and off the field and tonight we have recognized and celebrated those who have made it so special.
And he added: “From the players, teams and coaches who have inspired millions of fans to the unsung volunteers and projects who at community level are the foundation of our great game, we salute them all.”
“Rugby is great. The players don’t wear helmets or padding; they just beat the living daylights out of each other and then go for a beer. I love that.” Joe Theismann