World Rugby has today announced the shortlists for the prestigious World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year, Women’s Breakthrough Player of the Year and International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year.
The nominees were announced ahead of the final round of the matches at the inaugural WXV 1 competition in Auckland, New Zealand this weekend.
Winners across four categories will be celebrated during a special awards presentation in front of fans at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart after the final whistle of the hotly anticipated England v New Zealand match on Saturday, 4 November. All final weekend matches available on RugbyPass TV where WXV 1 coverage will begin at 15:49 local time (GMT+13) on Friday.
The accolades will complete the World Rugby Awards 2023, which was hosted at the Opéra Garnier in Paris, France, on Sunday, 29 October following the culmination of Rugby World Cup 2023.
With WXV taking the world by storm, World Rugby deemed it appropriate to leave determination of the nominees as late as possible to capture and reflect performances across the three WXV divisions.
The three shortlists for World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year in partnership with Mastercard, World Rugby Women’s Breakthrough Player of the Year in partnership with Tudor and International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year have been selected by the esteemed World Rugby Awards panels.
Fans will have the opportunity to vote online to determine the International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year winner with voting opening at 22:00 local time on Thursday, 2 November (09:00 GMT) and closing at 06:00 local time on Saturday, 4 November (17:00 GMT on Friday).
The World Rugby Women’s 15s Dream Team of the Year in partnership with Capgemini will be revealed on Saturday along with the three individual award winners.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The past year has seen some momentous steps forward for the women’s game with more full-time contracts, record-breaking crowds, the announcement of the first-ever dedicated international release window and, of course, the inaugural WXV competition which has seen the very best women’s teams competing across three levels and in three regions around the globe.
“A huge congratulations and thank you to all those nominated today who are not only inspiring fans and players on the field with their tenacious performances and infectious spirit but outside of the game with the incredible work they carry out in their communities.”
During Sunday’s awards ceremony in Paris, Tyla Nathan-Wong (New Zealand) was named World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in partnership with HSBC, beating off competition from team-mate Michaela Blyde, Maddison Levi (Australia) and Reapi Ulunisau (Fiji).
WORLD RUGBY AWARDS 2023 NOMINEES
World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year in partnership with Mastercard
- Ruahei Demant (New Zealand)
- Abby Dow (England)
- Marlie Packer (England)
- Gabrielle Vernier (France)
New Zealand fly-half Ruahei Demant, the 2022 recipient bidding to become the first to claim the accolade more than once, has picked up where she left off at Rugby World Cup 2021, pulling the strings to unleash the exciting Black Ferns’ backline, while Gabrielle Vernier was in sublime form in the Women’s Six Nations, the France centre scoring five tries and deservedly claiming the Player of the Championship accolade. England captain Marlie Packer is a relentless force in the back row, leading by example with her tough defence but equally adept in attack and is the leading try-scorer in women’s test rugby this year with 11. Her England team-mate Abby Dow is no slouch in the try-scoring feats either with six in 2023 – four in one match against Italy – from the winger who is a constant threat from anywhere on the pitch with her pace and footwork.
World Rugby Women’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year in partnership with Tudor
- Carla Arbez (France)
- Francesca McGhie (Scotland)
- Mererangi Paul (New Zealand)
- Katelyn Vahaakolo (New Zealand)
The four players – one fly-half and three wingers – all made their debuts in 2023. Carla Arbez was thrust into the spotlight by France’s new coaching regime to make her debut at fly-half in their Women’s Six Nations opener and didn’t disappoint, marking the occasion with a try against Italy. Francesca McGhie also took to international rugby with ease, starting all of Scotland’s matches this year in a dangerous back three line-up that has helped them claim the WXV 2 title earlier this month. Mererangi Paul and Katelyn Vahaakolo both made their Black Ferns debuts in the same match, against Australia in the World Rugby Pacific Four Series, and while Paul scored try braces in her first two tests to grab the headlines, they are both a constant threat with their pace and footwork and have a combined 11 tries between them in 2023.
International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year
- Sofia Stefan (Italy, v Ireland on 15 April)
- Charlotte Escudero (France, v Wales on 23 April)
- Zoe Aldcroft (England, v France on 29 April)
- Mererangi Paul (New Zealand, v Canada on 8 July)
Three tries from the Women's Six Nations make the shortlist along with one from the World Rugby Pacific Four Series. The first was a flowing move from an Italian scrum inside the Ireland half, the backs working it wide before finding Beatrice Rigoni inside, the centre falling just short after a desperate tap-tackle but alert to offload to Sofia Stefan in support. Charlotte Escudero's try for France against Wales also came from some slick passing along the line, the flanker finding Emilie Boulard on her outside before continuing her line to take the scoring pass seconds later from Marine Ménager.
The final Women's Six Nations nominee came after a charge from Sarah Beckett, who offloaded to her fellow second-row Zoe Aldcroft on her inside for an England try in the Grand Slam decider with France at Twickenham in April. Mererangi Paul's try came from a lineout take by Maiakawanakaulani Roos with the ball quickly spread wide and recycled once before Amy du Plessis and Renee Holmes combined to find the winger in space on the right for an easy run in.