Sara­cens trio among World Rugby Player of the Year nom­i­nees

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Eng­land’s so far un­beaten year un­der Aus­tralian coach Ed­die Jones was recog­nised yes­ter­day with three in­ter­na­tion­als from Sara­cens pro­vid­ing 50 per­cent of the nom­i­nees for the 2016 World Rugby Player of the Year award.

Goal-kicker Owen Far­rell, No 8 Billy Vu­nipola and lock Maro Itoje were on a short­list that also in­cluded New Zealand’s Beau­den Bar­rett and Dane Cole and Ire­land back-row Jamie Heaslip.

The Sara­cens trio helped the Lon­don club win the English Pre­mier­ship and Eu­ro­pean Cham­pi­ons Cup ti­tles.

They also played key roles as Eng­land won their first nine Tests un­der Jone­sap­pointed af­ter the hosts’ em­bar­rass­ing first-round exit at last year’s World Cup.

Eng­land’s un­beaten run in­cluded a Six Na­tions Grand Slam and a 3-0 se­ries win in Aus­tralia. Itoje, 22, had al­ready been nom­i­nated for the ‘break­through’ player of the year award. Bar­rett had the un­en­vi­able task of re­plac­ing fly-half great Dan Carter as the All Blacks’ No 10 af­ter the lat­ter’s Test re­tire­ment fol­low­ing New Zealand’s 2015 World Cup tri­umph. But the at­tack­ing Bar­rett filled the gap as New Zealand ex­tended their un­beaten run to 18 Tests-a world record for a lead­ing rugby union na­tion.

Dy­namic hooker Coles, of­ten seen fin­ish­ing off moves on the wing, also played his part in a bril­liant win­ning streak that only ended on Satur­day with Ire­land’s stun­ning 40-29 win over the All Blacks in Chicago.

Ex­pe­ri­enced No 8 Heaslip was once more the link man be­tween the pack and the backs as Ire­land beat New Zealand for the first time in 111 years of try­ing. At 33, he is the old­est of this year’s nom­i­nees, hav­ing been on the short­list in 2009 when the award was won by New Zealand great Richie McCaw.

The six play­ers were cho­sen by a panel chaired by Aus­tralia’s 1999 World Cup­win­ning captain John Eales and fea­tur­ing for­mer in­ter­na­tion­als Will Green­wood (Eng­land), RaphaÎl Ibanez (France), Fran­cois Pien­aar (South Africa), Chris Pater­son (Scot­land), AgustÌn Pi­chot (Ar­gentina), Scott Quin­nell (Wales), Tana Umaga (New Zealand) and Paul Wal­lace (Ire­land) as well as ex­pe­ri­enced rugby jour­nal­ists Pierre Galy (Agence FrancePresse), Stephen Jones ( The Sun­day Times, Bri­tain), Jim Kayes (TV3, New Zealand) and Ser­gio Stu­art ( Ole, Ar­gentina).

“There is class in abun­dance with New Zealand’s Bar­rett and Coles, Eng­land’s Vu­nipola, Itoje and Far­rell and Ire­land’s Heaslip,” said World Rugby chair­man Bill Beau­mont.

“There is also a great mix of ex­pe­ri­enced, proven cam­paign­ers and ex­cit­ing young tal­ent,” added Beau­mont, Eng­land’s 1980 Grand Slam-win­ning captain. The nom­i­nees for the equiv­a­lent Women’s Player of the Year award an­nounced Mon­day were Fiao’o Fa’amausili (New Zealand), Sarah Hunter (Eng­land) and GaÎlle Mig­not (France).

Both tro­phies will be pre­sented at the will be pre­sented at the World Rugby Awards at Lon­don’s Hil­ton Metropole ho­tel on Sun­day, Novem­ber 13.

New Zealand, Eng­land and Fiji Sev­ens had all pre­vi­ously been nom­i­nated for the team of the year award, with their re­spec­tive coaches-Steve Hansen, Jones and English­man Ben Ryan all vy­ing for the coach of the year ti­tle.

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