Ireland’s Josh van der Flier and Johnny Sexton have been nominated for the prestigious World Rugby Player of the Year award at the end of a brilliant year for the world’s No.1 ranked side.
For once the Leinster and Ireland pair will go head-to-head, doing battle with France’s Antoine Dupont and South Africa’s Lukhanyo Am for the top individual prize, with the winner announced on Sunday.
Van der Flier was nominated for the Guinness Six Nations Player of the Championship award in the spring but was pipped by reigning World Player of the Year Dupont.
Sexton won the award in 2018, and like Dupont, is in contention to be crowned World Player of the Year for the second time.
After a fantastic year across the board for Ireland, Andy Farrell has been nominated for coach of the year, as has France’s Fabien Galthié, while Henry Arundell, Ange Capuozzo, Mack Hansen and Dan Sheehan will contest the Breakthrough Player of the Year award.
Galthié led his side to a first Guinness Six Nations title since 2010 in the spring, with France sweeping aside all before them on their way to their fourth Grand Slam.
Then, in the summer, Farrell achieved a feat which no Ireland head coach has managed previously, claiming a 2-1 series victory in New Zealand.
Talking Points from Round 2 of the Autumn Nations Series
Elsewhere, Chris Harris, Edoardo Padovani and Louis Rees-Zammit have been nominated for Try of the Year, and like the other nominees, will discover their fate in the first in-person awards ceremony since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Harris finished off a fine team counterattack for Scotland against Italy during the Guinness Six Nations; Padovani touched down for the Azzurri against Wales just a week later following a scintillating break from Capuozzo and Rees-Zammit used his acceleration to leave the South African defence trailing in his wake during their first meeting in the summer.
It’s an all-northern hemisphere line-up in the breakthrough player category which includes three back-three players who have set pulses racing over the past year and a hooker key to one of the world’s most dominant packs.
Ireland pair Sheehan and Hansen both played an integral role in the series win against New Zealand in July and are joined by Italy full-back Capuozzo, and England’s Arundell, who made an instant impact on his Test debut, scoring a try within six minutes of coming on against Australia.
World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year
Antoine Dupont, France Johnny Sexton, Ireland Josh van der Flier, Ireland Lukhanyo Am, South Africa
World Rugby Coach of the Year
Andy Farrell, Ireland Men’s 15s Fabien Galthié, France Men’s 15s Simon Middleton England Women’s 15s Wayne Smith, New Zealand Women’s 15s
International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year
Rodrigo Fernandez (Chile, v USA on 9 July) Lalakai Foketi (Australia v France on 5 November) Chris Harris (Scotland, v Italy on 12 March) Edoardo Padovani (Italy, v Wales on 19 March) Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales, v South Africa on 2 July)
World Rugby Men’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year
Henry Arundell (ENG) Ange Capuozzo (ITA) Mack Hansen (IRE) Dan Sheehan (IRE)