World Rugby Awards 2017 Recognize Women’s XV World Cup Winners

Black Ferns RWC

The awards winners have taken their bows, paparazzi have zoomed in on all the VIP guests and the champagne glasses were never empty–all this was seen last night in Monaco, as the World Rugby Awards 2017 recognized the Women’s XV World Cup winners as the Team of the Year.

Never before have a women’s team held the major team’s trophy, And in 2017, the victorious New Zealand Black Ferns celebrated more success in front of their peers.

Buoyed by the successful 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup held in Ireland, this award will send a signal that the female participants offer the same, if not more, than their male counterparts. The demographic is enjoying a high recognition factor; with the XV’s and the Sevens players all enjoying plenty of attention. This award now underlines that point.

But not only for the women playing the game, but also for women in the position of referee. Joy Neville was voted as the World Rugby Referee of the Year–another first. Her performance in the WRWC final, and in leading the rise in women controlling any rugby match (International, professional or domestic) is a tremendous factor is showing equity in major roles in the sport.

World Rugby Awards 2017 Celebrates Leading Men and Women

In the premier award categories, the contest to be called the World’s best, is an annual who’s-who. From the top ranked sides, five men and five women would be judged over their accomplishments this year.

Men’s Player of the Year Nominees: Beauden Barrett (NZ), Owen Farrell (England and British and Irish Lions), Israel Folau (Australia), Rieko Ioane (NZ) and Maro Itoje (England/Lions).

Women’s Player of the Year Nominees: Kelly Brazier (New Zealand), Romane Menager (France), Safi N’Diaye (Fra), Lydia Thompson (England) and Portia Woodman (NZ).

With the twin success of the men and women, New Zealand again lead the nominations and ultimately the winners. Beside Portia Woodman taking away the XV’s player, she was last years Sevens POTY. Her team mate in 2017, Michaela Blyde, collected her award in a breakout year.

And for Barrett, one of his fellow men’s nominee was Rieko Ioane. Only in his second year as an International, the Auckland player did impress the judges, to win the Breakout POTY.

Rugby officials Represented at World Rugby Awards 2017

Important to the game, the officials are also included in voting. And in another first, the winner of Referee of the Year is Ireland’s Joy Neville.

In her own ‘breakout’ season, where she not only officiated the Women’s Rugby World Cup final, but she has also received a professional contract with Irish Rugby. It see’s her controlling a wide range of matches, with both women and men. That included International European Rugby competition, Principality Premiership and Women’s Six Nations matches.

And in the other major team award from the 2017 World Rugby Awards, was Coach of the Year. One of the times that non-players are rewarded, and a nod to the men who motivate the top teams.

The winner for 2017 is Eddie Jones, England Rugby head coach. The man who renewed the reputation of the England Roses, after the side performed well below expectations in 2015.

After taking his team to equal the unbeaten record of 18 International tests, Jones has guided England to a second Six Nations title, and a clean sweep down in Australia [his former team]. The success continues, and with a fixture set with the All Blacks in 2018, the focus will be on the wily rugby architect.

The event was a celebration of the game, with their Serene Highnesses Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco in attendance. All the nominees, dignitaries and VIP guests contributed to a wonderful event.

But the evening belonged to the world champion Black Ferns.

The women stood tallest at the 2017 World Rugby Awards, and it was a great step forward for the game, and for women’s rugby in the 21st century.


Full list of winners:

IRPA Try of the Year: Joaquin Tuculet (Argentina)
Breakthrough Player of the Year: Rieko Ioane (New Zealand)
Men’s Sevens Player of the Year: Perry Baker (USA)
Women’s Sevens Player of the Year: Michaela Blyde (New Zealand)
IRPA Special Merit: Rachael Burford and Richie McCaw
Award for Character: Eduardo “Coco” Oderigo
Vernon Pugh Awards for Distinguished Service: Marcel Martin

“Main photo credit”
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