Ireland star claims World Rugby’s top gong

AWARDS: Ireland flank Josh van der Flier was named men’s World Rugby Player of the Year on Sunday after helping his country to a first series away win in New Zealand and to the top of the global rankings.

The 29-year-old won the award ahead of Leinster and Ireland team-mate Johnny Sexton, victorious in 2018, South Africa center Lukhanyo Am as well as last year’s winner, France scrumhalf Antoine Dupont.

Van der Flier, who has Dutch grandparents, scored five tries in 11 Test appearances throughout the 12 months, which included starting all three games in the victorious July tour over the All Blacks.

At domestic level, he crossed six times as Leinster reached the final of the European Champions Cup before losing to French club La Rochelle.

Elsewhere, Italy’s Ange Capuozzo, who can play across the back-three, claimed the Breakthrough Player of the Year prize.

Capuozzo started 2022 with French second-tier side Grenoble before ending it with a try in Saturday’s loss to South Africa a week after touching down during a win over Australia and creating a try in a win over Wales in the Six Nations.

Meanwhile, World Rugby player of the year nominee Lukhanyo Am was named in this year’s dream. The Springbok is joined by fellow teammates hooker Malcolm Marx and center Damian De Allende.

Renowned referee legend Tappe Henning was awarded the World Rugby Referee Award. The current United Rugby Championship head of officials shared the special accolade with all those around the world.

β€œI’ll accept this on behalf of countless people all over the world, putting their life and their family’s time into developing match officials,” Henning said.

Springbok legend Bryan Habana picked up the Special Merit Award for his contribution to the rugby fraternity.

Habana played 124 tests for South Africa, scoring 67 tries from 2004-16.

The wing helped the Springboks win their second Rugby World Cup crown in 2007 and shares the record as the top try-scorer in men’s Rugby World Cup history with Jonah Lomu on 15.

Off the field, Habana has worked with International Rugby Players and the South African players’ association My Players, setting a benchmark for what it means to serve the game beyond the pitch – from his fundraising efforts benefitting hard-hit communities to ensuring players across men’s and women’s 15s and sevens at the highest levels have their voices heard.

FULL LIST OF WORLD RUGBY AWARDS WINNERS:

Women’s 15s Player of the Year – Ruahei Demant (New Zealand)

Men’s 15s Player of the Year – Josh van der Flier (Ireland)

Coach of the Year – Wayne Smith (New Zealand Women’s 15s)

Men’s Breakthrough Player of the Year – Ange Capuozzo (Italy)

Women’s Breakthrough – Ruby Tui (New Zealand)

Men’s Sevens Player of the Year – Terry Kennedy (Ireland)

Women’s Sevens Player of the Year – Charlotte Caslick (Australia)

Referee Award – Stages Henning (South Africa)

Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Dr Farah Palmer (New Zealand)

International Rugby Players Special Merit Award – Bryan Havana (South Africa)

International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year – Rodrigo Fernandez (Chile v USA on 9 July)

International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year – Abby Dow (England v Canada on November 5)

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