New Zealand number eight Ardie Savea has been crowned World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year in partnership with Mastercard, receiving the prestigious accolade at a star-studded World Rugby Awards 2023 ceremony.
New Zealand number eight Ardie Savea has been crowned World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year in partnership with Mastercard, receiving the prestigious accolade at a star-studded World Rugby Awards 2023 ceremony on Sunday.
Just hours after South Africa defeated Savea’s All Blacks to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for an historic fourth time at Stade de France, the victorious team reunited to open the spectacular 90-minute show, held at the breathtaking Opéra Garnier in the heart of Paris.
A second memorable rugby showcase in as many nights brought honours for some of the players and coaches who have shone at Rugby World Cup 2023, alongside others who have made an impact over the past 12 months or the course of distinguished careers.
Five Rugby World Cup legends were also inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame during the ceremony in Dan Carter (New Zealand), Thierry Dusautoir (France), George Smith (Australia), Juan Martín Hernández (Argentina) and Bryan Habana (South Africa).
Andy Farrell was named World Rugby Coach of the Year, recognising his achievement in leading Ireland’s to a Six Nations Grand Slam and top spot in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini for 15 months.
Meanwhile, New Zealand winger Mark Tele’a was named the World Rugby Men’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year in partnership with Tudor.
Savea said: “It’s very special. Very blessed and grateful to be up here. I guess for an individual to stand out it’s based on the foundation of the team. A massive shout-out to Foz (Ian Foster), skip (captain, Sam Cane) and my brothers this year and the last couple of years, and the journey we’ve been through.
“I wouldn’t say I’m in the same category as those guys (previous winners of the award from New Zealand) – they’re legends, but I just try and go out there, fulfil the black jersey and give my best. That’s all I can do and I have 14 other brothers next to me doing the same thing.
“What this team has been through not only this year but the past couple of years under Foz has been very special and we would have loved the fairy tale ending last night. It wasn’t meant to be but it’s a special group of men and I’m so blessed to be able to represent the All Blacks.”
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “If Rugby World Cup 2023 was the ultimate party to celebrate our sport’s 200th birthday, this memorable evening has surely been the cherry on the cake.
“In the company of generations of great players and servants of the global game, we’ve been able to celebrate some extraordinary personalities who have lit up stadiums, captured imaginations and contributed to driving rugby forward into a new era.
“As we look to the future, we know that the strength of our sport will remain the exceptional individuals we are fortunate to count as part of our great, global rugby family. I offer both congratulations and thanks to all those honoured tonight.”
Of the 11 awards presented in Paris, nine were selected by the star-studded World Rugby Awards panels, while the International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year was decided by a fan vote on social media.
Nominees and winners in a further four women’s categories will be announced and celebrated separately, at the conclusion of the ongoing WXV tournament that represents a major milestone for the sport.
World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year in partnership with Mastercard – Ardie Savea (New Zealand)
Ardie Savea may have narrowly failed to join his brother Julian as a Rugby World Cup winner, but the number eight has been the standout performer for the All Blacks in 2023, starting all bar one of New Zealand’s 12 tests and six at France 2023. The 30-year-old’s tireless work-rate often makes it appear there is more than one of him on the pitch and his try-scoring performance in the quarter-final defeat of Ireland was one for the ages as New Zealand stunned the world number one side.
Nominees: Bundee Aki (Ireland), Antoine Dupont (France), Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)
World Rugby Men’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year in partnership with Tudor – Mark Tele’a (New Zealand)
Mark Tele’a burst onto the international scene with a double against Scotland at Murrayfield last November and hasn’t looked back, scoring six tries in nine tests for the All Blacks. The winger took less than two minutes to cross for the opening try of Rugby World Cup 2023, one of two he scored against hosts France that night. Tele’a started four of New Zealand’s matches at RWC 2023 and proved a constant threat across the pitch.
Nominees: Louis Bielle-Biarrey (France), Manie Libbok (South Africa), Tamaiti Williams (New Zealand)
World Rugby Coach of the Year – Andy Farrell (Ireland)
Andy Farrell claims the coveted award at the second time of asking having also been nominated in 2022. The former England international has created an environment where players can thrive, and the rewards can be seen in his taking Ireland to number one in the rankings and masterminding a Six Nations Grand Slam amid a record 16-match winning streak that only came to an end with a painful defeat to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup 2023 quarter-finals.
Nominees: Ian Foster (New Zealand), Jacques Nienaber (South Africa) , Simon Raiwalui (Fiji)
International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year – Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland, v England on 4 February)
An overwhelming winner after collecting 51 per cent of the 5,000 plus votes from fans, Duhan van der Merwe’s try in the Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham on 4 February was a solo effort, receiving the ball just inside Scotland’s half and finding a gap in the England defence before shrugging off five tackles as he wound his way through to touch down.
Nominees: Damian Penaud (France, v Ireland pm 11 February), Hugo Keenan (Ireland, France on 11 February), Vinaya Habosi (Fiji, v Georgia on 1 October)
World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in partnership with HSBC – Tyla Nathan-Wong (New Zealand)
Tyla Nathan-Wong has been at the heart of the Black Ferns Sevens success story since the beginning, playing in the inaugural World Rugby Sevens Series tournament in 2012 and pulling the strings as the playmaker ever since. She played in all seven tournaments on the 2023 Series, scoring 247 points as the Black Ferns Sevens reached every final, winning six titles to claim a seventh overall crown. She made the HSBC Series Dream Team and sits second on the all-time point-scoring list with 1,295.
Nominees: Michaela Blyde (New Zealand), Maddison Levi (Australia), Reapi Ulunisau (Fiji)
World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in partnership with HSBC – Rodrigo Isgro (Argentina)
Rodrigo Isgro was an ever-present for Argentina on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023, playing in all 11 tournaments as Los Pumas Sevens enjoyed their best-ever campaign, winning three titles from six Cup final appearances. Isgro scored 33 tries for Argentina and featured in four individual HSBC Dream Teams and the overall Series Dream Team. His performances helped earn up a call-up to make his test debut and secure a place in Argentina’s Rugby World Cup 2023 squad.
Nominees: Leroy Carter (New Zealand), Marcos Moneta (Argentina), Akuila Rokolisoa (New Zealand)
World Rugby Men’s 15s Dream Team of the Year in partnership with Capgemini
Four nations are represented in the Dream Team with Rugby World Cup 2023 hosts France and Ireland claiming five players a piece, one more than New Zealand with South Africa with one.
1. Cyril Baille (France) 2. Dan Sheehan (Ireland) 3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland) 4. Eben Etzebeth (South Africa) 5. Scott Barrett (New Zealand) 6. Caelan Doris (Ireland) 7. Charles Ollivon (France) 8. Ardie Savea (New Zealand) 9. Antoine Dupont (France) 10. Richie Mo’unga (New Zealand) 11. Will Jordan (New Zealand) 12. Bundee Aki (Ireland) 13. Garry Ringrose (Ireland) 14. Damian Penaud (France) 15. Thomas Ramos (France).
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – George Nijaradze (Georgia)
The former Georgian Rugby Union president has worked tirelessly and diligently to help the growth and development of rugby, not only in Georgia but across Europe with his work as a Board Member for Rugby Europe. His work helped to lay the foundations for the success Georgia continue to enjoy on the international stage. Nijaradze also became the first Georgia representative to the World Rugby Council in 2016.
International Rugby Players Special Merit Award – John Smit (South Africa)
South Africa’s Rugby World Cup 2007-winning captain John Smit achieved it all on the pitch, playing 111 tests for the Springboks and leading the side out in 83 of them. However, his impact has been just as significant off the pitch, serving as a director of MyPlayers, the South African Rugby Players’ Organisation, from 2018-22 and taking the players’ secondment to SA Rugby’s Executive Council in a period that coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges that brought. He is currently the CEO of the South African Rugby Legends Association, dedicating his time to their work developing grassroots rugby and supporting the needs of retired players in South Africa. He also finds the time to work as a pundit for SuperSport.
Rugby for All Award – SOS Kit Aid (United Kingdom)
SOS Kit Aid’s contribution over more than 20 years to the development and growth of rugby across nearly 50 World Rugby member unions where access to quality kit and equipment is a challenge, if not an impossibility. Promoting the sustainable approach of recycling kit, SOS Kit Aid has helped forge connections between schools and clubs be they donating or receiving kit, while also playing a role supporting the recovery efforts after natural disasters in the Pacific Islands or in war-torn communities in Ukraine.
World Rugby Referee Award – David McHugh (Ireland)
David McHugh’s dedication and contribution to the game of rugby spans more than 20 years, from his decade as an international referee taking charge of 28 tests and spanning three Rugby World Cups between 1995 and 2003, to his role as a mentor for the next generations of match officials, including the likes of Joy Neville and John Lacey in Ireland and Nika Amashukeli in Georgia.
Full list of World Rugby Awards winners
- World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year in partnership with Mastercard – Ardie Savea (New Zealand)
- World Rugby Coach of the Year – Andy Farrell (Ireland)
- World Rugby Men’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year in partnership with Tudor – Mark Tele’a (New Zealand)
- World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in partnership with HSBC – Rodrigo Isgro (Argentina)
- World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in partnership with HSBC – Tyla Nathan-Wong (New Zealand)
- World Rugby Referee Award – David McHugh (Ireland)
- Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – George Nijaradze (Georgia)
- Rugby for All Award – SOS Kit Aid
- International Rugby Players Special Merit Award – John Smit (South Africa)
- International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year – Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)
- World Rugby Hall of Fame inductees: Daniel Carter (New Zealand), Thierry Dusautoir (France), George Smith (Australia), Juan Martín Hernández (Argentina), Bryan Habana (South Africa).
For more details on the World Rugby Awards, visit www.world.rugby/awards.