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Van Der Flier Named World Rugby Player Of The Year

Van Der Flier Named World Rugby Player Of The Year

Josh van der Flier was crowned the World Rugby Men's 15s Player of the Year in Monaco ©World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

Josh van der Flier has been honoured as the 2022 World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year, in partnership with Mastercard. He becomes just the third Ireland player after Keith Wood and captain Jonathan Sexton to win the prestigious accolade.

The Leinster and Ireland flanker was crowned this year’s winner at the World Rugby Awards in Monaco this evening, beating off stiff competition from his captain Sexton, South Africa centre Lukhanyo Am and France scrum half Antoine Dupont.

It caps an immense season for the 29-year-old, who produced a series of consistently outstanding performances in the Ireland back row, through the Guinness Six Nations as Andy Farrell’s side won the Triple Crown, throughout the historic series win in New Zealand, and during the Bank of Ireland Nations Series.

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Van der Flier collected his award at the iconic Salle des Étoiles in Monaco, adding to his 2022 EPCR European Player of the Year accolade received earlier this season.

Giving his reaction afterwards, he said: “I’m absolutely delighted, a bit shocked to be honest as well. Feeling very grateful for the team that I’m lucky to be a part of.

“Just thinking of all the coaches I’ve had along the way, and my parents who have supported me so much, and my wife as well. It’s a very special feeling.

“I’ve been trying to work on a few things in my game, in all different areas, and I guess I just found a good run of form where I felt pretty confident. It just seemed quite simplified in my head.

“I love the game, I’ve always really enjoyed it. Probably from my dad putting a rugby ball in our cot when we were babies, so it probably started from that.

“Playing professional rugby can be tough a lot of the time, you’ve niggles, you can be sore at times. It can definitely be tough work, but you see how much pride it gives the likes of my parents (Dirk and Olly), or my wife (Sophie), or my home club Wicklow or my school Wesley (College).

“You see how much pride they get from it, and it really drives you on as well.”

He added: “It’s been great. I got married in the summer, so the first half of the year was a lot of wedding prep and I guess I was probably training harder because I knew if I went home, I’d have to do that!

“Having that great moment to get married in the summer was really special. It was a really exciting time, a good buzz about the year whether rugby had gone well or not, so I guess it’s been a happy year alright.”

Meanwhile, in addition to the his World Player of the Year award, van der Flier was also including in the World Rugby Men’s 15s Dream Team of the Year alongside Sexton, Tadhg Furlong and Tadhg Beirne.

Nine of the winners were selected by the star-studded World Rugby Awards panels, while the rugby family had the opportunity to cast their votes for the International Rugby Players Men’s and Women’s Try of the Year categories on World Rugby social platforms.


World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year, in partnership with Mastercard – Ruahei Demant (New Zealand) 

Described by Wayne Smith as ‘one of the best leaders I’ve ever had in a team’, co-captain Ruahei Demant was the architect of New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup 2021 success, driving the team forward as she led by example and brought the game plan to life. A calming presence when the pressure dial ramped up, the out-half was named Mastercard Player of the Match in the final – her 11th Yest of the year.

Nominees: Sophie de Goede (Canada), Alex Matthews (England), Laure Sansus (France), Portia Woodman (New Zealand)

World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year, in partnership with Mastercard – Josh van der Flier (Ireland) 

Flanker Josh van der Flier was at the forefront of Ireland’s play throughout the year, including in their historic series win over the All Blacks in New Zealand. The 29-year-old started ten of Ireland’s 11 Tests in 2022, scoring four tries. A powerful ball carrier in attack, van der Flier was equally impressive in defence with his relentless tackling and tireless work at the breakdown.

Nominees: Lukhanyo Am (South Africa), Antoine Dupont (France), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland)

World Rugby Coach of the Year – Wayne Smith (New Zealand Women’s 15s) 

Appointed as director of rugby six months out from Rugby World Cup 2021, Wayne Smith transformed a New Zealand side that had suffered record losses to England and France last November into World champions for a sixth time following a 34-31 victory over the Red Roses in the final at a sold-out Eden Park. ‘The Professor’, as Smith is known, implemented a change in mindset and playing style that the players embraced and met his challenge to be true to their DNA and play an attacking and unstructured style of rugby.

Nominees: Andy Farrell (Ireland Men’s 15s), Fabien Galthié (France Men’s 15s), Simon Middleton (England Women’s 15s)

World Rugby Women’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year, in partnership with Tudor – Ruby Tui (New Zealand) 

A former World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year, Ruby Tui has made the switch to 15s look easy since making her Black Ferns debut against Australia in June and was one of the stars of Rugby World Cup 2021. The 30-year-old has started 10 of New Zealand’s 12 Tests in 2022, scoring eight tries and setting up countless others as she relished the freedom the Black Ferns’ attacking approach afforded their back-three.

Nominees: Maud Muir (England), Vitalina Naikore (Fiji), Maiakawanakaulani Roos (New Zealand)

World Rugby Men’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year, in partnership with Tudor – Ange Capuozzo (Italy) 

Ange Capuozzo announced his arrival on the world stage in March with a bang, scoring two tries off the bench against Scotland, and then made a length-of-the-field break against Wales to set up the try that ended Italy’s seven-year, 36-match losing run in the Six Nations. The livewire full-back epitomises the youngsters coming to the fore for Italy under coach Kieran Crowley and scored twice to help the Azzurri beat Australia for the first time a week ago.

Nominees: Henry Arundell (England), Mack Hansen (Ireland), Dan Sheehan (Ireland)

World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year, in partnership with HSBC – Terry Kennedy (Ireland) 

The first Ireland player to receive the coveted award, Terry Kennedy enjoyed a remarkable year in the green jersey, his lightning footwork and speed making the play-maker a constant threat. One of ‘the Originals’ from the start of the IRFU Men’s Sevens programme in 2015, Kennedy scored 50 tries on the Series – the eighth different men’s player to reach a half century – and earned a place in the Dream Teams for both the Series and Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022.

Nominees: Nick Malouf (Australia), Kaminieli Rasaku (Fiji), Corey Toole (Australia)

World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year, in partnership with HSBC – Charlotte Caslick (Australia) 

Charlotte Caslick becomes the second player to win this accolade twice, having first received the award during Australia’s Olympic gold medal-winning year of 2016. Appointed co-captain a few days before her 27th birthday in March, Caslick was at the heart of Australia’s unprecedented treble of HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens success in 2022. She scored 31 tries on the 2022 Series and finished as the DHL Impact Player.

Nominees: Maddison Levi (Australia), Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Ireland), Faith Nathan (Australia)

World Rugby Referee Award – Tappe Henning (South Africa) 

Tappe Henning has been integral to refereeing and its development across both the professional and amateur forms of the game for more than 20 years. A veteran of 15 Tests as referee from 1995 to 2005, his contribution to the game since hanging up the boots has been his biggest legacy, working with match officials in both South Africa and Scotland as well as in competitions such as Super Rugby and the United Rugby Championship. The South African is also known throughout the refereeing world as the ‘law guru’ and the go-to person for any technical law related questions.

Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Dr Farah Palmer (New Zealand) 

A three-time Rugby World Cup-winning captain of the Black Ferns between 1998 and 2006, Dr Farah Palmer has been a leading light in Women’s rugby for more than two decades. The first female on the Board of New Zealand Rugby and now its Deputy Chair, Palmer is also Chair of the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board. Inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2014, her passion has inspired countless women and girls to play the game, while her support of the Māori community is unwavering and equally inspiring.

International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year – Rodrigo Fernandez (Chile v USA on July 9) 

With 50 minutes on the clock in the first leg of the Americas 2 qualifier in Santiago, Chile out-half Rodrigo Fernandez fielded a box kick just outside his own 22 and sidestepped the onrushing USA defender. Defying the treacherous conditions underfoot caused by the heavy rain, Fernandez was not done there and slalomed his way past five more players to score a sublime 75-metre solo try.

Nominees: Lalakai Foketi (Australia v France on November 5), Chris Harris (Scotland v Italy on March 12), Edoardo Padovani (Italy v Wales on March 19), Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales v South Africa on July 2)

International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year – Abby Dow (England v Canada on November 5) 

England turned the ball over metres from their own line early in the second half of their Rugby World Cup 2021 semi-final with Canada in Auckland, working the ball quickly out wide to Claudia MacDonald. She set off from behind her own try-line, stepping her way through the defence before finding fellow winger Abby Dow in support who then raced 65 metres to score.

Nominees: Sylvia Brunt (New Zealand v Wales on October 16), Emily Chancellor (Australia v England on October 30), Linda Djougang (Ireland v Wales on March 26), Nomawethu Mabenge (South Africa v Spain on August 12)

International Rugby Players Special Merit Award – Bryan Habana (South Africa) 

Bryan Habana played 124 Tests for South Africa, scoring 67 tries from 2004 to 2016. The winger helped the Springboks win their second Rugby World Cup crown in 2007 and shares the record as top try scorer in Men’s Rugby World Cup history with Jonah Lomu on 15. Off the field, Habana has worked with International Rugby Players and the South African players’ association, My Players, setting a benchmark for what it means to serve the game beyond the pitch – from his fundraising efforts benefitting hard-hit communities to ensuring players across Men’s and Women’s 15s and Sevens at the highest levels have their voices heard.

World Rugby Men’s 15s Dream Team of the Year, in partnership with Capgemini 

1. Ellis Genge (England), 2. Malcolm Marx (South Africa), 3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), 4. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland), 5. Sam Whitelock (New Zealand), 6. Pablo Matera (Argentina), 7. Josh van der Flier (Ireland), 8. Grégory Alldritt (France), 9. Antoine Dupont (France), 10. Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), 11. Marika Koroibete (Australia), 12. Damian de Allende (South Africa), 13. Lukhanyo Am (South Africa), 14. Will Jordan (New Zealand), 15. Freddie Steward (England)

World Rugby Women’s 15s Dream Team of the Year, in partnership with Capgemini 

1. Hope Rogers (USA), 2. Emily Tuttosi (Canada), 3. Sarah Bern (England), 4. Abbie Ward (England), 5. Madoussou Fall (France), 6. Alex Matthews (England), 7. Marlie Packer (England), 8. Sophie de Goede (Canada), 9. Laure Sansus (France), 10. Ruahei Demant (New Zealand), 11. Ruby Tui (New Zealand), 12. Theresa Fitzpatrick (New Zealand), 13. Emily Scarratt (England), 14. Portia Woodman (New Zealand), 15. Abby Dow (England)