Guinness Six Nations stars up for global awards

Antoine Dupont 26/3/2021
Antoine Dupont and Maro Itoje headline a number of Guinness Six Nations stars on the shortlist for gongs at the World Rugby Awards.

Antoine Dupont and Maro Itoje headline a number of Guinness Six Nations stars on the shortlist for gongs at the World Rugby Awards.

France scrum-half Dupont and England lock Itoje are two of the four nominees for the prestigious Men’s 15s Player of the Year, alongside Australia duo Michael Hooper and Samu Kerevi.

Dupont has taken France to a new level since taking over the No.9 jersey with a series of blistering performances in this year’s Championship.

The 25-year-old scored three tries during the Guinness Six Nations campaign, while he also had incredible success with club side Toulouse, winning the Heineken Champions Cup and French Top 14.

He has been named as captain of Les Bleus for the ongoing Autumn Nations Series, where France have started superbly – defeating both Argentina and Georgia in their opening two fixtures ahead of a mouth-watering clash with the All Blacks this weekend.

Dupont is looking to become the first Frenchman to win the award since Thierry Dusautoir in 2011, trying to emulate his coach Fabien Galthié, who took home the award in 2002.

Itoje recently celebrated his 50th cap for England, which has come after just five years, showing his importance to Eddie Jones’s squad.

The lock is one of the first names on the team sheet and it is clear why, given his performances for England this past year.

Despite a tough Guinness Six Nations campaign for England, Itoje played every minute, scoring the winning try in the victory over France at Twickenham, and those performances were also enough to earn a British & Irish Lions call-up.

Once again, he played every minute across the three Tests against South Africa and despite losing the series 2-1, he was a standout player.

Should he win, he will become the first Englishman since Jonny Wilkinson in 2003 to become the World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year.

Two further Guinness Six Nations stars are on the shortlist for World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year, as Louis Rees-Zammit of Wales and England’s Marcus Smith get the nod.

Flying winger Rees-Zammit became the youngest British & Irish Lion for more than half a century this summer after impressing as Wales won the 2021 Guinness Six Nations title and he was joined on the Lions tour by Smith.

The fly-half was rewarded for brilliant form with club side Harlequins – leading them to a shock English Premiership title – and was playing for England on their summer tour when he found out he had been called up as an injury replacement for the Lions’s tour of South Africa.

New Zealand’s Will Jordan and Andrew Kellaway of Australia are the other two men up for Breakthrough Player of the Year.