World Rugby Awards top players of the decade

World Rugby revealed its top players of the decade in both the sevens and 15-a-side codes as part of a virtual awards ceremony held this evening.

They were among several accolades, voted for by the public, handed out during the World Rugby Awards Special Edition ceremony.

The ceremony also recognised the top tries of the decade in both the sevens and 15-a-side codes, as well as the top 15-a-side teams of the decade.

Portia Woodman of New Zealand won the award for World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Decade.

The 29-year-old winger is an Olympic silver medallist at Rio 2016 and Commonwealth Games gold medallist at Gold Coast 2018 in the sevens discipline, and also won the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017 in the 15-a-side code.

It was one of two awards on the night for Woodman who also won the International Rugby Players’ Women’s 15s Try of the Decade.

Meanwhile, the World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Decade award to Jerry Tuwai of Fiji.

The 31-year-old was part of the Fijian team that won men’s rugby sevens Olympic gold at Rio 2016, with Tuwai among the scorers as they comprehensively beat Britain in the final.

The International Rugby Players’ Men’s 15s Try of the Decade went to Jamie Heaslip.

Heaslip, of Ireland, announced his retirement from the game in February 2018 due to injury and has now embarked on a media career.

The World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Decade went to New Zealand’s Richie McCaw, who led the All Blacks to two World Cup titles during the decade, in 2011 and 2015.

The flanker retired from the game in November 2015 a month after leading New Zealand to a successful defence of their World Cup crown.

Meanwhile, the World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Decade award went to Jessy Trémoulière of France.

The full-back was part of the French team that reached the quarter-finals of Rio 2016 before they were eliminated by Japan.

During the awards, the men’s and women’s 15-a-side teams of the decade were also announced, with New Zealand featuring heavily across both genders.

The All Blacks had seven players in the men’s team with McCaw featuring alongside Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu and Ben Smith.

South Africa contributed three players in Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis and Bryan Habana, while there were two representatives from Ireland in Conor Murray and Brian O’Driscoll.

The line-up was completed by Australia’s David Pocock, Italy’s Sergio Parisse and Wales’ George North.

The women’s team of the decade featured six Black Ferns in the form of two-time winner on the night Woodman, alongside Fiao’o Fa’amausili, Eloise Blackwell, Linda Itunu, Kendra Cocksedge and Kelly Brazier.

Eight England players featured in the line-up – Rochelle Clark, Sophie Hemmings, Tamara Taylor, Katy Daley-Mclean, Emily Scarratt, Lydia Thompson, Danielle Waterman and the event’s co-host Maggie Alphonsi.

France’s Safi N’Diaye completed the line-up.

Four rugby stars were also recognised during the awards for the work they had done to help the public during the coronavirus pandemic.

The players recognised were Italy flanker Maxime Mbandà, former Wales centre Jamie Roberts, Canada sevens star Pamphinette Buisa and South Africa’s Rugby World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi.