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Watch: Rory Best gives acceptance speech on behalf of voiceless World Rugby Player of the Year Johnny Sexton

World Rugby Player of the Year award winner Johnny Sexton and Irish national team captain Rory Best.
World Rugby Player of the Year award winner Johnny Sexton and Irish national team captain Rory Best.
Johnny Sexton has another award (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Johnny Sexton has become the first Irishman since Keith Wood in 2001 to be crowned World Rugby Player of the Year.

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The announcement was made at a lavish ceremony in Monte Carlo on Sunday evening.

Ireland captain Rory Best had to read out Sexton’s acceptance speech because he had lost his 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."

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.

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.


From Belfast Telegraph