Barre leads New Zealand dominance of awards
FLY-HALF Beauden Barrett led a hat-trick of titles for world champions New Zealand at the World Rugby awards on November 13 as he collected Player of the Year.
The 25-year-old, who has filled the huge vacuum left by the international retirement of Dan Carter with aplomb, was joined on the podium by Steve Hansen, who won Coach of the Year, and the record-breaking All Blacks as Team of the Year.
Barrett and Hansen, who scooped the coaching award for the fourth time in five season, were central figures as New Zealand set a world record of 18 successive Test wins before being beaten by Ireland just over a week ago.
Both Barrett and Hansen relayed their best wishes to those back home after at least two people were killed following a powerful earthquake on November 13 on New Zealand’s South Island.
“When something like that happens, it put things into perspective and rugby is just a game. We send them our love and wishes,” said Hansen.
There was success for England as well, with captain Sarah Hunter winning the Women’s Player of the Year while England lock Maro Itoje – who was also nominated for best player – won breakthrough player of the year for his storming displays in their Six Nations Grand Slam campaign and the historic 3-0 whitewash of Australia.
On the club front, the 22-year-old was equally successful as Saracens swept the Premiership title and the European Champions Cup to boot.
Barrett, 25, has been in scintillating form for the All Blacks, scoring seven tries as they set the record for consecutive Test wins and eased to the Rugby Championship title.
He is the fifth successive All Black to receive the prestigious award, following in the footsteps of Carter (2012 and 2015), Kieran Read (2013) and Brodie Retallick (2014).
Hunter, capped 83 times and a World Cup winner in 2014, has played in every Test for her country this year as they finished second to France in the Six Nations – she beat French star Gaelle Mignot and Fiao’o Fa’amausili of New Zealand to the award.
Australia’s success in the women’s sevens tournament at the Olympics after the sport made an eye-catching return to the quadrennial sporting extravaganza – earned reward for Charlotte Caslick, who was named World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year.
Although Fiji won the men’s gold medal the individual award went to South Africa’s Seabelo Senatla.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont – who replaced Frenchman Beranrd Lapasset after the Frenchman retired from the post this year – said it had been a memorable year for the sport.
“We have witnessed an exceptional 2016 on and off the field featuring a game-changing return to the Olympic Games after 92 years, compelling men’s and women’s World Rugby Sevens Series and of course a captivating year of fifteens Tests and championships,” said the former England captain. –