All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett voted Rugby World Player of the Year
New Zealand flyhalf Beauden Barrett has been voted World Player of the Year as the world champion All Blacks swept the major awards at the end of a record-breaking rugby season.
Barrett beat teammate Dane Coles, England’s Maro Itoje, Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell and Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip to the sport’s highest individual honour.
New Zealand won Team of the Year after posting a world-record 18 consecutive test wins before losing to Ireland in Chicago last week. The All Blacks beat England and Olympic sevens gold medalists Fiji to that award. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was voted Coach of the Year for the fourth time, beating England’s Australian coach Eddie Jones and Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan.
Barrett established himself as the All Blacks’ first-choice flyhalf this season after taking over the No. 10 jersey from the previous winner of the Player of the Year award, Dan Carter, who is now playing club rugby in France. All Blacks have won the top award in each of the last five years - Carter twice and Barrett, Kieran Read and Brodie Retallick on one occasion each.
Barrett quickly made a mark as one of the most skilful and inventive flyhalves in world rugby, playing a major role in the development of New Zealand’s attacking game. Barrett’s goalkicking has been subpar in recent matches but he remains a key member of the All Blacks lineup.
He started the 2016 season behind Aaron Cruden in New Zealand’s pecking order at flyhalf but took over starting role after outstanding performances off the bench against Wales in June and has started at No. 10 in the All Blacks’ last nine tests.
Coles has also been a major contributor to New Zealand’s recent successes, proving himself one of the most mobile and skilful forwards in world rugby as well as a strong performer in the tight.
Farrell was the pivot of the England team which won the Six Nations Championship this season and beat the Wallabies in a threetest series in Australia for the first time ever. Vunipola has also been a key member of that team, currently unbeaten since former Australia coach Jones took over following England’s group-stage exit at last year’s World Cup. Itoje has been outstanding since making his England debut against Italy in March.
England’s Sarah Hunter was voted Women’s Player of the Year, and Australia’s Olympic gold medallist Charlotte Caslick was named Women’s Sevens Player of the Year. South Africa’s Seabelo Senatla was the men’s Sevens Player of the Year.
A try by Ireland backrower Jamie Heaslip against France was voted Try of the Year.
In this August 19, 2016 file photo, New Zealand’s Beauden Barrett practices his kicking Photo: AP