Black Ferns Sevens speedster Michaela Blyde has picked up her second consecutive World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year at the World Rugby Awards in Monte Carlo today. A New Zealander was guaranteed to win the award with Blyde’s team mates Sarah Goss and Portia Woodman the other nominees in the category.
Blyde collected the award on the back of another impressive season with the Black Ferns Sevens that saw her named in the HSBC Dream Teams for both the series and RWC Sevens. The DHL Impact Player of the Series for a second time in 2018, Blyde scored 37 tries across the five rounds – second only to team-mate Portia Woodman – as New Zealand finished as runners-up after winning the Kitakyushu, Langford and Paris rounds.
Blyde, blessed with electric pace and quick feet, scored another nine tries to help New Zealand claim back-to-back RWC Sevens titles in San Francisco, including a hat-trick in the final against France. The season also saw her win an historic gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
All Black Brodie Retallick won the International Rugby Players Try of the Year for his impressive 30 metre gallop that saw him sell Bernard Foley an impressive dummy during the All Blacks v Australia match in the Rugby Championship match in Sydney.
Retallick was quickly through on Australia scrum-half Will Genia, turning over the ball and offloading to Damian McKenzie to launch the counter-attack. Beauden Barrett and Ben Smith helped take play into the Australian half before the All Blacks recycled and swung the ball from right to left, the fly-half finding Retallick who did an outstanding ‘show and go’ while running 30 metres to score.
Team mate Beauden Barrett was also a nominee in this category for one of his tries against Australia.
International Rugby Players presented New Zealand Sevens legend DJ Forbes and Australia Stephen Moore with special Merit Awards.
DJ Forbes amassed a record 89 tournaments and 512 matches in his 11 years on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for New Zealand, scoring 153 tries and winning 26 tournaments, six series titles and Commonwealth Games and RWC Sevens gold. The 35-year-old former All Blacks Sevens captain was not only a leader on the field, though, having been a valuable conduit and voice for players throughout his career and a strong advocate for the development of women’s sevens, improved player welfare standards, player well-being and Olympic inclusion. Forbes’ desire to see players thrive has seen him work with the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association and International Rugby Players on athlete well-being and development programmes.
Other Kiwi’s nominees for awards were Beauden Barrett and Rieko Ioane for Men’s Player of the Year, Fiao’o Faamausili for Women’s Player of the Year, New Zealand for Team of the Year, Steve Hansen for Coach of the Year and Karl Tu’inukuafe for Breakthrough Player of the Year.
Scotland icon Doddie Weir was given the Award for character. The 61-test veteran has started a foundation to raise awareness and money for Motor Neurone Disease which the 48-year-old was diagnosed with two years ago. Currently there is no cure for the disease which claimed the life of fellow player, South African hero Joost van der Westhuizen in 2017. For more information on Weir’s foundation visit www.nyname5doddie.co.uk.
Full list of World Rugby Awards winners
World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year, in association with Mastercard – Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year, in association with Mastercard – Jessy Trémoulière (France)
World Rugby Team of the Year – Ireland
World Rugby Coach of the Year – Joe Schmidt (Ireland)
World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in association with TUDOR – Aphiwe Dyantyi (South Africa)
World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Perry Baker (USA)
World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Michaela Blyde (New Zealand)
World Rugby Referee Award – Angus Gardner (Australia)
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Yoshiro Mori (Japan)
Award for Character in association with Land Rover – Doddie Weir (Scotland)
Spirit of Rugby Award in association with Dove Men+Care – Jamie Armstrong, The Clan (Scotland)
IRP Special Merit Award – Stephen Moore (Australia) and DJ Forbes (New Zealand)
IRP Try of the Year – Brodie Retallick (New Zealand v Australia)