International Rugby

Super Smit gives South Africa a voice

South Africa, in 2007 World Cup-winning captain John Smit, has one of the most respected player voices at the head table of the revamped World Rugby judges panel.

Take a bow World Rugby and kudos for the identification of who will determine the best players and best team performances of the year.

Too often there has been controversy over individual selections made in the past, but the newly appointed judges represents the two most recent World Cup-winning captains in Smit and 2011 and 2015 winner Richie McCaw.

Players want to be judged by their peers and by those who have achieved in the categories in which they are being judged.

It is another show of progress within World Rugby and the willingness to involve some of the game’s most influential players.

Smit’s Bok team was the World Team of the Year in 2007 and McCaw’s All Blacks won the title numerous times. McCaw is also a three-time winner of the prestigious Player of the Year award. Only fellow All Black Dan Carter has won the award three times.

World Rugby, in a statement, wrote that players, coaches, media and fans are at the heart of an exciting new process to determine the prestigious awards following a revamp of the process ahead of the 2017 event in Monaco.

World Rugby is interacting with the game’s support base of more than 10 million on social and digital media and wants this fan base to be heard.

As such, once the nominees for men’s and women’s player of the year awards are selected by the awards panel, voting will be open to fans via @WorldRugby social media platforms using the #WorldRugbyAwards hashtag. Players, coaches and media will also have their say on the nominees before the panel makes the final decision.

World Rugby said that to be eligible for the top awards, players must be competing at international level and, this year, the awards panel will have access to World Rugby’s game analysis performance data and a full bank of digital match videos.

With the panel on a four-year rotation, presiding over the process will be a new group of playing and coaching greats, featuring World Rugby Hall of Fame inductees and former World Rugby player, coach and team of the year winners with 771 caps between them, making the panel perfectly placed to determine what it takes to be the best.

The panel consists of:

John Smit – former South Africa hooker and captain who led his team to victory at Rugby World Cup 2007; 111 caps; World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee #48, 2011.

George Gregan – former Australia scrumhalf and captain who was part of the Wallabies team that won Rugby World Cup 1999; 139 caps; World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee #64, 2013.

Maggie Alphonsi – former England flanker and Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 winner; 74 caps; World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee #132, 2016; 2006 Women’s Personality Award winner.

Clive Woodward – former England centre who coached England to victory at Rugby World Cup 2003; 21 caps plus two for British and Irish Lions; World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee #42, 2011; 2003 Coach of the Year.

Brian O’Driscoll – former Ireland centre and captain; 133 caps plus eight for British and Irish Lions; World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee #121, 2016; 2008 IRPA Try of the Year award winner.

Agustin Pichot – former Argentina scrum-half and captain; 71 caps; World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee #46, 2011; 2008 IRPA Special Merit Award winner.

Richie McCaw – former New Zealand flanker and captain who led his team to victory at Rugby World Cup 2011 and 2015; 148 caps, 2006, 2009 and 2010 Player of the Year.

Fabien Galthié – former France scrum-half and captain; 64 caps; 2002 Player of the Year

The World Rugby Coach and Team of the Year will be selected by the panel with entries open to both men’s and women’s sevens and 15s.

Pichot, World Rugby’s vice-chairperson and awards panellist commented on World Rugby’s official website: “Our objective is to ensure that the awards are relevant and inclusive and that’s why players, fans and media are at the heart of this exciting, new process which will live and thrive on social media. We want fans to have their say, not just at the end of the year when the decision is made, but throughout 2017, so join the conversation and share your player, team and coach of the year suggestions using the #WorldRugbyAwards hashtag.

Former Ireland captain O’Driscoll said: “It’s great to see World Rugby acknowledging the performances of players and others within the game in this way. In 2017, we’ve already seen some amazing rugby, whether it was in the Six Nations, June internationals, Lions tour to New Zealand, the ongoing Women’s Rugby World Cup, Rugby Championship or during the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and there’s plenty more to come. So as a panel we’re not going to have any easy decisions but it’s a privilege to be asked to be a part of this group and I’m sure we’ll have some really interesting debates before the awards are announced in Monaco.”

World Rugby Awards:

World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year
The panel deliberates and selects the nominees based on who has performed to an exceptional standard throughout the year. Players, coaches, a panel of rugby media representatives from each region and fans are invited to vote on the nominees via #WorldRugbyAwards. The panel will then deliberate, informed by the player, coach, media and public votes to determine the winner.

World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year
The panel deliberates and selects the nominees based on who has performed to an exceptional standard throughout the year. Players, coaches, a panel of rugby media representatives from each region and fans are invited to vote on the nominees via #WorldRugbyAwards. The panel will then deliberate, informed by the player, coach, media and public votes to determine the winner.

World Rugby Coach of the Year
This award is open to coaches of the men’s and women’s sevens and 15s disciplines. Panellists award three points for the coach who has performed the best during the year in their eyes and then two points and one point. Points are collated to determine a winner.

World Rugby Team of the Year
This award is open to men’s, women’s, sevens and 15s teams. Panellists award three points for the team who has performed the best during the year in their eyes and then two points and one point. Points are collated to determine a winner.

World Rugby Referee Award
This award is open to current and retired referees. Panellists award three points for the referee or retired referee whom they feel should be honoured for their refereeing services and then two points and one point. Points are collated to determine a winner.

IRPA Try of the Year
Nominees are selected by the International Rugby Players’ Association and announced to the public and guests at the World Rugby Awards dinner who determine the winner.

World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year
This award is open to men’s, women’s, sevens and 15s players who have played no more than year of international rugby. Panellists award three points for the person whom they feel has burst onto the rugby scene in the past year and then two points and one point. Points are collated to determine a shortlist and winner.

World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year
Panellists award three points for the player who has performed the best during the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series season in their eyes and then two points and one point. Points are collated to determine the nominees and a winner.

World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year
Panellists award three points for the player who has performed the best during the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series season in their eyes and then two points and one point. Points are collated to determine the nominees and a winner.

Award for Character
The Award for Character honours an individual, union or group who have shown an outstanding display of character which embodies the true values of rugby: integrity, respect, solidarity, passion and discipline.

Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service
The Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service honours an individual, union or group, male or female, who has given outstanding service to their country and contributed to the international game in as many as possible of the following areas: playing, coaching, management, training, administration, media and broadcast.

IRPA Special Merit
The International Rugby Players’ Association Special Merit Award is presented to a player by fellow players in recognition of outstanding contribution to the professional game on and off the field.

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