Seven New Zealand Rugby (NZR) players and coaches have been nominated for World Rugby Awards in 2021.
Among the nominations selected by a World Rugby panel are four players and three coaches and fans will have a say on how successful the NZR contingent is with three of the six categories featuring Kiwis to be decided by a fan vote.
The Black Ferns Sevens team features strongly with Sarah Hirini up for Women’s Sevens Player of the Year and coaches Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney jointly nominated for Coach of the Year, following the team’s gold medal win at the Tokyo Olympics. All Blacks Sevens captain Scott Curry is also nominated as Men’s Sevens Player of the Year.
Bunting and Sweeney will be up against All Blacks Coach Ian Foster, who has also been nominated for Coach of the Year, while All Blacks players Will Jordan and Luke Jacobson are up for Breakthrough Player of the Year and International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year respectively. Jordan is now the second-fastest All Black to 15 test tries in only 11 Tests and only two shy of Joe Rokocoko’s record, while Jacobson’s nomination is for the breathtaking try he scored against Argentina during the Fortinet Rugby Championship.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) Chief Executive Mark Robinson said:
“Congratulations to our players and coaches for receiving nominations for the World Rugby Awards and to all the other nominees. Their recognition is well deserved. It’s great to see strong New Zealand representation across the categories at the end of what’s been a challenging but exciting year for everyone involved in rugby.”
Rugby fans can now cast their vote for six of the World Rugby Awards 2021 categories, including World Rugby Men’s and Women’s Players of the Year in sevens and 15s, as well as the International Rugby Players Men’s and Women’s Try of the Year scorers on the Awards’ voting website and join the conversation using #WorldRugbyAwards.
Voting will be open from Monday, 15 November until 12.59PM (NZST) on Sunday, 21 November, head here to vote.
The remaining six categories, including Coach of the Year, will be voted by the World Rugby Awards panel, a team of rugby legends who will have the task of selecting winners for the World Rugby Breakthrough, Coach and Referee awards as well as the newly created Men’s and Women’s 15s Dream Teams of 2021.
To maintain the integrity of the outcome, the panel will have the opportunity to review the public voting to ensure the recipients are fitting winners in their respective category.
Nine countries are represented among the nominees in Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and Wales, with France having the most representatives with eight, two more than England and New Zealand. Fiji is also rewarded for their teams’ performances at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with four nominees in the Men’s and Women’s Sevens Player of the Year categories.
WORLD RUGBY AWARDS 2021 NOMINEES
World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard (fan vote)
Antoine Dupont (France)
Michael Hooper (Australia)
Maro Itoje (England/British and Irish Lions)
Samu Kerevi (Australia)
Australia captain Michael Hooper – who became his country’s most-capped captain in September – and England’s Maro Itoje have both previously been nominated for the Award, but lively scrum-half Antoine Dupont becomes the first Frenchman to be nominated since 2012 while Samu Kerevi is rewarded for his impactful return to the Wallabies midfield in 2021 which saw them win five tests, their best run outside of a Rugby World Cup year since 2008.
World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard (fan vote)
Zoe Aldcroft (England)
Caroline Boujard (France)
Laure Sansus (France)
Poppy Cleall (England)
Four first-time nominees in this category representing the two teams that have led the way in women’s rugby in 2021. Poppy Cleall and Zoe Aldcroft are two powerhouses of the England pack, both comfortable in either the second row and back row, while Caroline Boujard scored what is believed to be the joint-fastest hat-trick in Women’s Six Nations history against Wales in April. Laure Sansus’ selection, meanwhile, make it three years in a row that a French scrum-half has been nominated for the prestigious award.
World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in association with Tudor (panel vote)
Will Jordan (New Zealand)
Andrew Kellaway (Australia)
Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales)
Marcus Smith (England)
Three flying wingers and an exciting talent at fly-half who have all lit up the international stage over the last year. Will Jordan is the second-fastest All Black to 15 test tries and has only failed to score in two of his 11 tests, while Andrew Kellaway is closing in on the Australian record for most tries in a debut season with eight in 11 tests in 2021. Louis Rees-Zammit became the youngest British and Irish Lion player for more than 50 years after impressing for Wales, while Marcus Smith has looked like a veteran in the England No.10 jersey since his debut in July.
World Rugby Coach of the Year (panel vote)
Allan Bunting/Cory Sweeney (New Zealand Women’s Sevens)
Ian Foster (New Zealand Men)
Simon Middleton (England Women)
Dave Rennie (Australia Men)
All first-time nominees split across sevens and 15s, Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney led New Zealand to Olympic gold in Tokyo, the one remaining accolade they were missing, while Simon Middleton led England to another Women’s Six Nations title and back-to-back record victories over world champions New Zealand in 2021. Ian Foster coached New Zealand to Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup success in a record-breaking year, while Dave Rennie has injected youth and experience into a Wallabies side that won five matches in a row, two of them against world champions South Africa.
World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC (fan vote)
Napolioni Bolaca (Fiji)
Scott Curry (New Zealand)
Marcos Moneta (Argentina)
Jiuta Wainiqolo (Fiji)
The nominees blend the guile and experience of New Zealand’s co-captain and talisman Scott Curry to the fresh exuberance of youth of Argentina’s Marcos Moneta, the top try-scorer with six in Tokyo. Fiji continue their proud record of having at least one player among the nominees from 2013 onwards with two gold medallists in Napolioni Bolaca and Jiuta Wainiqolo, the latter marking his Fiji debut in a global sevens tournament with the opening try of Tokyo 2020 to quickly announce himself to the world.
World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC (fan vote)
Anne-Cécile Ciofani (France)
Sarah Hirini (New Zealand)
Alowesi Nakoci (Fiji)
Reapi Ulunisau (Fiji)
New Zealand’s inspirational captain Sarah Hirini led the Black Ferns Sevens to the Olympic gold that had driven them on for the last five years, while Anne-Cécile Ciofani was a standout for France on the way to silver. Two players who helped inspire Fiji become their nation’s first female Olympic medallists are also nominated in Alowesi Nakoci and Reapi Ulunisau, the latter belying the fact it was her debut in a global tournament by finishing as top try-scorer with eight, including a record four against Brazil in the pool stage.
International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year (fan vote)
Lukhanyo Am (South Africa, v British and Irish Lions on 31 July)
Pierre-Louis Barassi (France, v Australia on 17 July)
Luke Jacobson (New Zealand, v Argentina on 12 September)
Damian Penaud (France, v Scotland on 26 March)
Three tries that began deep in their own 22 from a free-kick or scrum and were quickly turned into tries after free-flowing attacks and the fourth a run back from a clearing kick to halfway. Damian Penaud’s try against Scotland in the Six Nations saw the winger gather his own chip dot down, while France team-mate Pierre-Louis Barassi finished off a move that had begun five metres from their own line against Australia in July. Cheslin Kolbe’s dancing feet and offload released Lukhanyo Am to score for South Africa in the second test against the British and Irish Lions, while an outrageous offload from Beauden Barrett was gratefully received by Luke Jacobson to finish another flowing move from the All Blacks in The Rugby Championship against Argentina.
International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year (fan vote)
Sara Barattin (Italy, v Scotland on 13 September)
Emilie Boulard (France, v Wales on 3 April)
Abby Dow (England, v France on 24 April)
Romane Ménager (France, v Ireland on 17 April)
Two French tries in the Women’s Six Nations, one to round out an impressive debut from Emilie Boulard late on against Wales when she finished off a slick passing move in the corner and the other another run-in from back-row Romane Ménager against Ireland. England swung the ball wide quickly from a lineout to find Abby Dow, the winger running around the outside of the defender to race in against hosts France a week after their Six Nations final triumph. The final nominee comes from the RWC 2021 Europe Qualifier, hosts Italy stealing an overthrown Scottish lineout near halfway to quickly send Sara Barattin over near the posts.
After a special edition in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prestigious World Rugby Awards return in 2021 to celebrate on-field achievements of the calendar year and recognise the teams and individuals who have inspired players and fans around the world. The pandemic has continued to impact the international stage with a number of teams having only returned to test rugby in the last couple of months.
Placed at the end of the November international window, the biggest accolades in rugby union will be virtually handed to their recipients from 6-10 December. The 12 categories will be unveiled on World Rugby social media channels including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (@WorldRugby).
The other categories to be awarded next month are the World Rugby Referee Award, the Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service and the World Rugby Men’s and Women’s 15s Dream Teams of the Year in association with Capgemini.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The World Rugby Awards are the ultimate accolade for rugby, and we are delighted to honour the outstanding players and individuals who have made an impact on our game on and off the field in 2021.
“The pandemic and its consequences have restricted several unions from playing international games this year and we recognise that not all rugby stars have had a chance to shine. Nevertheless, the World Rugby Awards Panel has done an amazing job in selecting suitable candidates in each category and I would like to congratulate all nominees who, deservingly, have been shortlisted for this year’s awards.”