This year’s World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year will be a New Zealander after Black Ferns Sevens stars Michaela Blyde, Portia Woodman and captain Sarah Goss were this morning confirmed the three nominations for the annual award.
World Rugby’s announcement of nominations comes just a day after the Black Ferns Sevens got their new international season under way, claiming the Glendale Sevens title in Colarado, USA. The opening tournament of the 2018-2019 season kicked off the Black Ferns’ campaign to qualify for the Olympics in 2020.
Blyde is the incumbent award recipient having won it in 2017 and Woodman last earned the accolade in 2015.
Black Ferns Sevens Coach Allan Bunting said all three are exceptional players.
“It’s fantastic that they are being recognised but I have no idea how you can separate them to find a winner; all three have different strengths and bring something unique to our team.”
New Zealand Rugby Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass said congratulated them on the nominations, adding that this spoke volumes about New Zealand’s place on the sevens international stage.
“We’ve seen our Black Ferns Sevens win Commonwealth Games gold and a Rugby World Cup this year so it is great to see them rewarded and recognised with these nominations.
“Congratulations to Michaela, Portia and Sarah on their nominations for what has been a stunning 2018 for them and the Black Ferns Sevens. Their clinical performance in the Final of the USA tournament demonstrated exactly why they have been nominated and we congratulate them on a fantastic start to the new season.”
The World Rugby Awards will be held at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo on 25 November.
Nominees are selected by players, match officials and commentators on the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018.
The Men’s Player of the Year nominees are Perry Baker (USA), Ben O’Donnell (Australia) and Jerry Tuwai (Fiji).
These awards are two of 13 categories of awards, including the World Rugby Men’s and Women’s Players of the Year, World Rugby Team of the Year, World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year and Award for Character.
WORLD RUGBY WOMEN’S SEVENS PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
MICHAELA BLYDE (NEW ZEALAND)
The youngest nominee at only 22, Michaela Blyde is in contention to win the award for the second year running after another impressive season with the Black Ferns Sevens that saw her named in the HSBC Dream Teams for both the series and RWC Sevens. The DHL Impact Player of the Series for a second time in 2018, Blyde scored 37 tries across the five rounds – second only to team-mate Woodman – as New Zealand finished as runners-up after winning the Kitakyushu, Langford and Paris rounds. Blyde, blessed with electric pace and quick feet, scored another nine to help New Zealand claim back-to-back RWC Sevens titles in San Francisco, including a hat-trick in the final against France. The season also saw her win an historic gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
SARAH GOSS (NEW ZEALAND)
The inspirational captain of the Black Ferns Sevens for the last four years, Sarah Goss led her side to an historic gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in April, tournament victories in Kitakyushu, Langford and Paris and a successful defence of the RWC Sevens crown in a run of 27 consecutive wins. The 25-year-old, who started every match in the 2018 series, has a tireless work ethic which, combined with her dogged defence and vision, enables her to unlock defences for herself and her team-mates. Goss was named in the HSBC Dream Team for RWC Sevens in San Francisco after also receiving the UL Mark of Excellence as the best player in the tournament.
PORTIA WOODMAN (NEW ZEALAND)
The only player to be named World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year in both sevens (2015) and 15s (2017), Portia Woodman was at her devastating best in the 2018 series to finish as both the top try scorer and point scorer with 43 and 215 respectively across the five events. The former netballer may have moved into the forwards in sevens, but with her blistering pace, unbelievable footwork and power she remains a threat from anywhere on the pitch, leaving others in her wake to score herself or create opportunities for her team-mates. The 27-year-old’s displays inevitably earned her a place in the HSBC Dream Team for both the series and RWC Sevens.
Previous World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year award winners:
2017 – Michaela Blyde (New Zealand)
2016 – Charlotte Caslick (Australia)
2015 – Portia Woodman (New Zealand)
2014 – Emilee Cherry (Australia)
2013 – Kayla McAlister (New Zealand)
Previous World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year award winners:
2017 – Perry Baker (USA)
2016 – Seabelo Senatla (South Africa)
2015 – Werner Kok (South Africa)
2014 – Samisoni Viriviri (Fiji)
2013 – Tim Mikkelson (New Zealand)
2012 – Tomasi Cama (New Zealand)
2011 – Cecil Afrika (South Africa)
2010 – Mikaele Pesamino (Samoa)
2009 – Ollie Phillips (England)
2008 – DJ Forbes (New Zealand)
2007 – Afeleke Pelenise (New Zealand)
2006 – Uale Mai (Samoa)
2005 – Orene Ai’i (New Zealand)
2004 – Simon Amor (England)