Du Toit and Scarratt named World Rugby Players of the Year 2019

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South Africa’s Pieter-Steph du Toit and England’s Emily Scarratt have been named World Rugby Men’s and Women’s 15s Player of the Year 2019 in association with Mastercard respectively at the World Rugby Awards in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday.

On a night to remember at The Prince Park Tower, only 24 hours after South Africa had lifted the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time with a 32-12 defeat of England, greats of the game past and present and the rugby family celebrated the outstanding achievers of the year.

On a celebratory night for world champions South Africa, Rassie Erasmus was named World Rugby Coach of the Year and the Springboks were also crowned World Rugby Team of the Year for the first time since 2009.

Du Toit was named the World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year 2019, becoming the first Springbok recipient since Bryan Habana in 2007 and third overall.

He received the award ahead of five other nominees in Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, England flanker Tom Curry, New Zealand flanker Ardie Savea, South Africa team-mate Cheslin Kolbe and USA hooker Joe Taufete’e.

Du Toit said: “To my team-mates and our coaching staff, everyone here tonight said it is a team sport and I can’t emphasise it more. To my team-mates, the friendship we made over these last few months is unbelievable and for me personally it is a massive honour for me to accept this award.

“I think if the players around you play good rugby as well and you have got good coaching staff around you and you set your standards a bit higher it is just the way your life goes forward. It is an unbelievable feeling and the Springboks mean so much to me, I can’t describe it.”

Scarratt slipped seamlessly back into 15s in 2019 to claim the World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year award, the first English player to do so since her captain Sarah Hunter in 2016.

She received the award ahead of four other nominees in England team-mates Sarah Bern and Katy Daley-Mclean, France scrum-half Pauline Bourdon and New Zealand scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge.

Scarratt said: “We don’t chase after individual accolades and achievements in a team sport and I have been unbelievably lucky to play with and against some fantastic players over the years and it is pretty cool for sure.

“The quality of rugby in England and around the world is going through the roof. It is really exciting, I think the women’s game over the last few years has really pushed on and it is definitely down to us to showcase what we are about, put good quality rugby out there for people to see and hopefully New Zealand 2021 is going to be one hell of a spectacle.”

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “This has been a very special year for rugby, culminating in one of the great Rugby World Cups.

“All of the nominees should be very proud, but Pieter-Steph du Toit and Emily Scarratt have been outstanding this year and thoroughly deserve their accolade.

“They have not just demonstrated their excellence on the field, but they are also superb ambassadors for the game and an inspiration for a new generation of players and fans.”

The award winners were selected by independent panels, who voted on every match from the Six Nations through to the Rugby World Cup 2019 final. The process also involved player input. For more details on the respective awards panels, click here.

World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard – Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa)

A linchpin in the South African pack, Du Toit has started nine of the Springboks’ 11 tests in 2019 and been an unused replacement in the RWC 2019 win over Canada. The towering 27-year-old may have flitted between second-row and flanker in the early days of his international career, but he has made the No.7 jersey his own over the last two years and his work-rate and versatility mean he is one of the first names down on Rassie Erasmus’ team sheet.

Nominees: Tom Curry (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa), Ardie Savea (New Zealand), Joe Taufete’e (USA)

World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard – Emily Scarratt (England)

The centre slipped back into 15s rugby in 2019 as if she had never been away playing sevens since Rugby World Cup 2017, starting four matches in a Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam winning campaign, and scoring a try against Scotland. The 29-year-old always seems to have more time on the ball, gliding through gaps or releasing team-mates into space. She was at her most dangerous in the Women’s Rugby Super Series, scoring four tries in her three starts and 43 points in total.

Nominees: Sarah Bern (England), Pauline Bourdon (France), Kendra Cocksedge (New Zealand), Katy Daley-Mclean (England)

World Rugby Team of the Year – South Africa

South Africa have created history on a number of fronts in 2019, the first to win both the Rugby Championship and Rugby World Cup in the same year but also the first to lift the Webb Ellis Cup after losing a match, against New Zealand in their Pool B opener. That loss, 23-13, is their only one of the year, having won 10 and drawn the other of their 12 tests. On the back of their third Rugby World Cup success, the Springboks have risen to also number one in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings for the first time since November 2009.

Nominees: England, Japan, New Zealand, Wales

World Rugby Coach of the Year – Rassie Erasmus (South Africa)

It might not have been Rassie Erasmus’ intention to become Springboks head coach when he returned to South Africa but he has taken to the role with aplomb. An astute tactician, he has bonded the team together impressively and been rewarded with results. This year South Africa have won the Rugby Championship title and become the first team to lose a match in the pool stages and go on to lift the Webb Ellis Cup after a dominant 32-12 defeat of England, a result which took them back to the top of the World Rugby Men’s Rankings for the first time since November 2009.

Nominees: Warren Gatland (Wales), Steve Hansen (New Zealand), Eddie Jones (England), Jamie Joseph (Japan)

World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in association with Tudor – Romain Ntamack (France)

A World Rugby U20 Championship winner in 2018, Romain Ntamack is calmness personified on a rugby pitch despite being just 20 and the youngest member of France’s RWC 2019 squad. He made his debut at centre in the Six Nations opener against Wales in February but has now made the fly-half berth his own, starting eight of his 12 tests there, including three in Japan. The son of RWC 1999 runner-up Émile, he has clearly inherited his father’s vision, flair and desire to attack the line.

Nominees: Joe Cokanasiga (England), Herschel Jantjies (South Africa)

World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Jerry Tuwai (Fiji)

Fijian playmaker Jerry Tuwai was nominated for the third year running after once again carving open defences at will with his vision and step, making the most of his diminutive frame to dart through gaps to create opportunities for himself or those around him. He may no longer have the captain’s armband but he is still the heartbeat of the Fijian side, helping them win titles in Cape Town, Hamilton, Hong Kong, London and Paris and a third series title for himself. The 30-year-old also featured in the HSBC Dream Team for the third year in a row.

Nominees: Folau Niua (USA), Stephen Tomasin (USA)

World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Ruby Tui (New Zealand)

A powerful runner and tireless worker at the breakdown, Ruby Tui is one of the first names down on coach Allan Bunting’s team sheet and someone who never gives less than 100 per cent for the Black Ferns Sevens’ cause. The 27-year-old, like her fellow nominees, was named in the HSBC Dream Team for the 2019 series, having started every match and scored 15 tries in their title-winning season. A New Zealand team without Tui in it is not as scary a prospect for teams, not only for her physicality but the way she inspires others around her with her performances.

Nominees: Sarah Hirini (New Zealand), Tyla Nathan-Wong (New Zealand)

World Rugby Referee Award – Wayne Barnes (England)

The 40-year-old is one of the most experienced referees of all time, having taken charge of his 90th test on Friday with the bronze final in Tokyo at the end of his fourth Rugby World Cup. A good communicator on the field, and a part-time barrister and trial advocate in London off it, Barnes has been an international referee for 13 years. With an attention to detail that is first-class, he is a great team player and leader who is always willing to help others learn.

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

Award for Character in association with Land Rover – The city of Kamaishi

Rugby has a long, proud history in Kamaishi and the rugby community was a pillar of strength in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and resultant tsunami on 11 March, 2011 that claimed more than 1,000 lives in the town. As Kamaishi began the long road to recovery the idea was raised of hosting Rugby World Cup 2019 matches to bring hope to the local people. An emotional presentation convinced Japan 2019 organisers to name Kamaishi one of its 12 host cities and the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium was duly built on the site of the elementary and junior schools that were destroyed. On 25 September, 14,025 fans were welcomed for the Fiji v Uruguay match on a day of celebration and remembrance. Typhoon Hagibis sadly forced the cancellation of the Namibia v Canada match on 13 October – with both teams pitching in to help the recovery effort – but Kamaishi was already one of the endearing stories of RWC 2019.

Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Bernard Lapasset (France)

The former World Rugby Chairman is recognised as an exceptional leader and a true visionary. He oversaw many of the significant moments in the game’s history, including Rugby World Cup 1995 in South Africa and the transition to professionalism during his first spell, and then rugby’s return to the Olympic Games programme in the form of sevens and the decision to award RWC 2019 to Japan during his eight-year tenure from 2008-16. A recipient of the Légion d’Honneur in 2006 and the Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur a decade later, Lapasset was also instrumental in France hosting RWC 2007 and is currently co-chairman of the Organising Committee for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

IRP Try of the Year – TJ Perenara (New Zealand, v Namibia)

Playing in the unfamiliar role of fly-half against Namibia at Tokyo Stadium, TJ Perenara side-stepped Prince Gaoseb before racing into opposition territory and producing a stunning pass to George Bridge. Once play was recycled Rieko Ioane popped a pass to Brad Weber whose ridiculous offload found Perenara on the left wing. The All Blacks replacement set a course for the line, brushing off tackles from Obert Nortje and Helarius Kisting to touch down in the corner. Just.

Nominees: Charles Ollivon (France, v Wales), Sergio Parisse (Italy, v Russia), Cobus Reinach (South Africa, v Canada)

IRP Special Merit Award – Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)

Jamie Heaslip played 95 tests for Ireland, 13 of them as captain, and five for the British and Irish Lions from 2006-17 to take his place in the centurions’ club. The number eight enjoyed unprecedented success with Ireland, including Six Nations titles and a Grand Slam, not to mention numerous honours on the domestic front with Leinster. Off the field, Heaslip has worked with International Rugby Players and as a representative on World Rugby’s Rugby Committee and Rugby Athletes’ Commission, and also with the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee, speaking for players at all levels, men’s and women’s, sevens and 15s. The 35-year-old has also worked proactively with Rugby Players Ireland on issues such as protecting sensitive player data and image rights.

Full list of World Rugby Awards winners
World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year, in association with Mastercard – Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa)
World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year, in association with Mastercard – Emily Scarratt (England)
World Rugby Team of the Year – South Africa
World Rugby Coach of the Year – Rassie Erasmus (South Africa)
World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in association with Tudor – Romain Ntamack (France)
World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Jerry Tuwai (Fiji)
World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Ruby Tui (New Zealand)
World Rugby Referee Award – Wayne Barnes (England)
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Bernard Lapasset (France)
Award for Character in association with Land Rover – The city of Kamaishi
IRP Special Merit Award – Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)
IRP Try of the Year – TJ Perenara (New Zealand, v Namibia)

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