Johnny Sexton becomes the first Irishman to be crowned World Player of the Year in 17 years
Johnny Sexton has become the first Irishman since Keith Wood in 2001 to be crowned World Rugby Player of the Year.
The announcement was made at a lavish ceremony in Monte Carlo this evening.
Ireland captain Rory Best had to read out Sexton’s acceptance speech because he had lost voice due to a throat infection.
"If a number ten wins an award like this, it is due to the team around him and the coaches making his job easier," Best said on Sexton’s behalf.
"It is an incredible honour. I look at the other nominees and admire all of them.
"Any of them would have been a worthy winner."
A speechless Johnny Sexton gets a helping hand from Rory Best as he receives the World Rugby Men's 15s Player of the Year 2018 Award in Association with Mastercard #WorldRugbyAwards pic.twitter.com/yveN4gROHh— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) November 25, 2018
The Ireland and Leinster outhalf beat off competition from Beauden Barrett, who was trying to win the award for the third year in succession, Rieko Ioane and South Africa duo Faf De Klerk and Malcolm Marx.
Joe Schmidt, who is expected to announce a decision on whether he will stay with Ireland beyond next year’s Rugby World Cup tomorrow, was named World Rugby Coach of the Year after guiding Ireland to a third ever Grand Slam, a series victory in Australia and a first win over the All Blacks on home soil.
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Ireland were also named World Rugby Team of the Year after losing just one game in 2018.
Jordan Larmour was nominated for Breakthrough Player of the Year but that gong went to Springbok winger Aphiwe Dyantyi.
CJ Stander’s try in the Grand Slam clinching win over England at Twickenham in March was shortlisted for Try if the Year but Brodie Retallick’s effort against Australia was announced as the winner.
Very proud of my pal @JohnnySexton on this most worthy World Player Of The Year Award. For me he has been consistently brilliant not only this season but for 10 years. Dedication & humility personified. 👏👏👏— Brian O'Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) November 25, 2018
Best Player of Year @JohnnySexton couldn't go to a better guy. Standard setter, leader and hardest worker in the room— jamie heaslip (@jamieheaslip) November 25, 2018
Sports Minister Shane Ross congratulated the IRFU on a "remarkable achievement".
“What we saw against the All Blacks was an unbelievable team performance to do something that hadn’t been done before, this group of players are very special and continue to raise our expectations, Joe has brought the team to a new level and these are indeed exciting times as we look forward to next year. Johnny Sexton has been that general on the field, and is a role model off it as well so it is fitting that he is crowned player of the year."