Hindered by the pandemic, a virtual 2020 Rugby Awards ceremony, in particular, highlighted the greatest players of the Decade this week.
Not as refined or as formal as in previous years, the presentation was played out live online. World Rugby used both live and pre-recorded segments to finalize the vote for individuals and teams of the decade.
Nominees in all six awards categories consisted of previous World Rugby awards winners over the last decade (2010-19). Voted for online by the public, a total of 394,795 votes were cast during the voting window in October with rugby fans eager to have their say on who should claim the prestigious accolades for last decade.
World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “First and foremost, I am deeply proud of how the global rugby family has reacted to what has been an exceptionally challenging year. The rugby heroes featured in the ceremony and all the others that provided outstanding service during the pandemic are an inspiration to us all. This special edition of the World Rugby Awards is certainly a tribute to their resilience and solidarity.
“I would like to congratulate all tonight’s recipients for their outstanding contribution to our game over the last decade, and for some of them, for many years to come. They are already part of rugby’s history and it is my great privilege to acknowledge their legacy with these awards.
Welcome to a special edition #WorldRugbyAwards where we pay tribute to the rugby players on the frontline of the Covid 19 pandemic and celebrate the stars of the last decade. pic.twitter.com/noTN5MyZMv
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) December 7, 2020
Virtual 2020 Rugby Awards highlight greatest players of the Decade
New Zealand’s two-time Rugby World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw was named World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Decade in association with Tudor after seeing off competition from former team-mates Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Brodie Retallick and Beauden Barrett as well as Thierry Dusautoir, Johnny Sexton and Pieter-Steph du Toit.
France full-back Jessy Trémoulière added another accolade to her Player of the Year award in 2018 by being voted the World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Decade in association with Tudor ahead of Carla Hohepa, Michaela Staniford, Magali Harvey, Kendra Cocksedge, Sarah Hunter, Portia Woodman and Emily Scarratt.
The first award presented on the night was the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Decade in association with HSBC, which was claimed by Black Ferns Sevens star Portia Woodman. The only player to be named World Rugby Player of the Year in both 15s and sevens, Woodman pipped team-mates Kayla McAlister, Michaela Blyde, Ruby Tui, and Australia’s Olympic champions Emilee Cherry and Charlotte Caslick, for the accolade.
Fiji’s own Olympic champion Jerry Tuwai was a popular winner of the World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of Decade in association with HSBC award, seeing off competition from Mikaele Pesamino, Cecil Afrika, Tomasi Cama, Tim Mikkelson, Samisoni Viriviri, Werner Kok, Seabelo Senatla and Perry Baker.
Jerry Tuwai is honoured to be selected as 7's player of the Decade, the jovial halfback shows his respect for the other great 7s legends who were also nominated pic.twitter.com/vX4MP6YmuQ
— Fiji Rugby Union (@fijirugby) December 7, 2020
The World Rugby Awards Special Edition also recognised the many players around the globe who chose to give up their time and volunteer with their club, a chosen charity or association during the COVID-19 pandemic to help those less fortunate. Four of these players were profiled during the show.
Italy back-row Maxime Mbanda, South Africa’s RWC 2019 winning captain Siya Kolisi, Canada’s Pam Buisa, and former Wales center Jamie Roberts. Other examples can be found here.
Meet your ‘greatest team of the Decade’
The World Rugby Women’s 15s Team of the Decade in association with Mastercard was selected by the panel that traditionally determines the annual accolade and, after much debate, features eight players from England, six from New Zealand, and one from France.
Fourteen of the team have won at least one Rugby World Cup, the exception being number eight Safi N’Diaye who has two bronze medals to her name.
- Rochelle Clark (ENG)
- Fiao’o Faamausili (NZL)
- Sophie Hemming (ENG)
- Eloise Blackwell (NZL)
- Tamara Taylor (ENG)
- Linda Itunu (NZL)
- Maggie Alphonsi (ENG)
- Safi N’Diaye (FRA)
- Kendra Cocksedge (NZL)
- Katy Daley-Mclean (ENG)
- Portia Woodman (NZL)
- Kelly Brazier (NZL)
- Emily Scarratt (ENG)
- Lydia Thompson (ENG)
- Danielle Waterman (ENG)
Six nations are represented in the World Rugby Men’s 15s Team of the Decade in association with Mastercard selected by the star-studded panel with seven players from New Zealand, three from South Africa, two from Ireland, and one each from Australia, Italy, and Wales.
The men’s Team of the Decade boasts a total of 1,637 test caps between them.
- Tendai Mtawarira (RSA)
- Bismarck du Plessis (RSA)
- Owen Franks (NZL)
- Brodie Retallick (NZL)
- Sam Whitelock (NZL)
- David Pocock (AUS)
- Richie McCaw (NZL)
- Sergio Parisse (ITA)
- Conor Murray (IRE)
- Dan Carter (NZL)
- Bryan Habana (RSA)
- Ma’a Nonu (NZL)
- Brian O’Driscoll (IRE)
- George North (WAL)
- Ben Smith (NZL)
While an example of public familiarity with names who have been praised far and wide, the rugby awards are both celebration and an ongoing conversation. Conjecture can be made over several places in the men’s and women’s teams. Join in the conversation with Last Word on Rugby facebook, twitter, and our LWOS boards page.
“Main photo credit courtesy of World Rugby media center”