World Rugby Awards - Special Edition 2020
In 2020, instead of awarding the best of rugby on the field over the calendar year, World Rugby looked back on a decade of international rugby across eight categories, six of which were voted on by the fans and two by our expert panel.
The Special Edition Awards also focused the spotlight on members of the rugby family who had showcased solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting their communities and getting involved in relief efforts.
A decade of excellence
- Men’s 15s Player of the Decade in partnership with Tudor - Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
- Women’s 15s Player of the Decade in partnership with Tudor - Jessy Trémoulière (France)
- Men’s Sevens Player of the Decade in partnership with HSBC - Jerry Tuwai (Fiji)
- Women’s Sevens Player of the Decade in partnership with HSBC - Portia Woodman (New Zealand)
- Men’s 15s Try of the Decade in partnership with International Rugby Players - Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)
- Women’s 15s Try of the Decade in partnership with International Rugby Players - Portia Woodman (New Zealand)
World Rugby Awards Panel Choice
Women’s 15s Team of the Decade in association with Mastercard
- Rochelle Clark (ENG)
- Fiao’o Faamausili (NZL)
- Sophie Hemming (ENG)
- Eloise Blackwell (NZL)
- Tamara Taylor (ENG)
- Linda Itunu (NZL)
- Maggie Alphonsi (ENG)
- Safi N’Diaye (FRA)
- Kendra Cocksedge (NZL)
- Katy Daley-Mclean (ENG)
- Portia Woodman (NZL)
- Kelly Brazier (NZL)
- Emily Scarratt (ENG)
- Lydia Thompson (ENG)
- Danielle Waterman (ENG)
Men’s 15s Team of the Decade in association with Mastercard
- Tendai Mtawarira (RSA)
- Bismarck du Plessis (RSA)
- Owen Franks (NZL)
- Brodie Retallick (NZL)
- Sam Whitelock (NZL)
- David Pocock (AUS)
- Richie McCaw (NZL)
- Sergio Parisse (ITA)
- Conor Murray (IRE)
- Dan Carter (NZL)
- Bryan Habana (RSA)
- Ma’a Nonu (NZL)
- Brian O’Driscoll (IRE)
- George North (WAL)
- Ben Smith (NZL)
Celebrating Rugby's Heroes of Covid 19
After the world fell victim to the effects of Covid 19, there were countless examples of rugby players doing all they could to help. Here are some of those stories from 2020, which were covered by news outlets around the world.
Maxime Mbanda: Italy's volunteer ambulance driver
Italy flanker Maxime Mbanda has been volunteering for Italy’s Yellow Cross charity in Parma, transferring patients to hospital for treatment while wearing full protective clothing. The Zebre flanker, who played for the Azzurri at Rugby World Cup 2019, admitted that the experience has been daunting.
"I can tell you that I’m scared, because every time you step into an infected department in the hospital you know that the enemy is in the air, it’s on everything you can touch," Mbanda told Press Association Sport. READ MORE (EN) / LEGGI DI PIÙ (IT)
Sarah Hunter's open letter to NHS workers
England captain Sarah Hunter, the World Rugby Women's 15s Player of the Year in 2016, wrote an open letter to NHS workers.
"Dear all, I know these are very uncertain times we are all facing right now. This is a situation none of us have found ourselves in before but one in which we are all currently learning to adapt to and find ways of getting through.
"Over the last week or so, I have seen and felt a sense of community and coming together of people looking out for and helping one another.
"Rugby's foundations are built on core values of 'Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship' and I strongly feel these values reflect how our country is living during these circumstances." READ MORE
Zimbabwe rugby star 'leads' COVID-19 fight
While athletes the world over are finding creative ways to stay fit either in self-isolation, quarantine or lockdown, former Zimbabwe international Tapfuma Parirenyatwa has been swapping his rugby jersey and boots for a stethoscope and scrubs in a bid to help the nation’s fight against coronavirus.
The 32-year-old number eight is a qualified doctor, having attended medical school in Cuba before resuming his rugby career when he returned to Zimbabwe in 2014.
“As long as there’s adequate protection and safety for myself and my colleagues, I’m very happy to go to work and help in the small way that I can,” Parirenyatwa told The Standard in April. READ MORE
All Blacks on the front line
“Are there any local restaurants in Nelson that need a delivery boy during Level 3? Flick me a message if I can help … also available as a taste tester.”
Having initially put this out on social media, former All Black and Crusaders prop Wyatt Crockett has since confirmed that he did a pizza delivery for the Nelson Hospital COVID-19 ward (first day of Level 3) and was asked to do a few more deliveries as well.
Meanwhile, All Blacks Sevens star Joe Webber and his young family are based in Maketu, a small town just south of Mt Maunganui. Webber and another New Zealand sevens player Issac Te Aute have been giving their time to man the Maketu check points.
“Our community saw what other small towns were doing around the country and some of the leaders decided to get a checkpoint started for Maketu. We don’t have essential shops or doctors here in Maketu which is why residents need to leave, but that’s also why people from other communities don’t need to come in. Everyone who lives here has a resident’s sticker on their car so they get waved through, but if it’s tourists or freedom campers, we talk to them and make sure they know what the rules are at the moment.” READ MORE
Canada sevens' all-action heroes
@rugbycanada & @worldrugby7s players (& Stars vets) Caroline Crossley & Pam Buisa founded the Vancouver Island Steps Up to assist local community during the #covid19 epidemic with a goal of 15k. They are 3k away from their target!#VISU #canada #community #donate #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/0n9Rn79GDz— StarsRugby7s (@StarsRugby7s) May 5, 2020
Canada sevens team-mates Pam Buisa and Caroline Crossley established the ‘Vancouver Island Steps Up’ community relief fund, which raised more than CAN$15,000 for local people struggling financially due to COVID-19. READ MORE
Following events in the US, specifically the death of George Floyd, Buisa also was one of the main organisers of a Peace Rally in Victoria, BC, a peaceful protest against racism and inequality attended by more than 9,000 people with another 10,000 people watching online. READ MORE
Another sevens player Charity Williams was one of the speakers at the Peace Rally and has been instrumental in working with Rugby Canada leadership in recent weeks. She hosted Rugby Canada's coverage of the Peace Rally in Victoria. READ MORE
Men's sevens player Josiah Morra was also a speaker at the Peace Rally for Black Lives held in Victoria, BC. Morra is a young man who has been an inspiration to many, sharing his experiences not only at the Peace Rally but also on his personal social media accounts. READ MORE
Quebec referee James Acker launches Rugby Soupe
Montreal-based match official James Acker has started a company called Rugby Soupe, where he and other members of the Quebec Rugby community provide meals for people in need during COVID-19.
They’ve created a system where anyone can buy ingredients, cook one of their recipes and deliver to homeless and other people who are struggling through shelters. So far, they have delivered more than 6,000 meals. READ MORE
Springboks pack a punch with Cape Town food parcels
“Last year our message was #StrongerTogether and we really believed that the people of South Africa were behind us during the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan,” said Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.
“Our presence here is just a thank you, really, and to help out where we can as a team and to say to the people of South Africa that we are with you.” READ MORE
Tess Feury, a USA player on the front lines
Tess Feury is no stranger to stress, death or personal risk at work. Nursing comes with a unique set of challenges, but the rise of the coronavirus pandemic changed everything for the pediatric intensive care nurse on the front lines at Morristown (New Jersey) Medical Center.
It not only altered her role as an essential worker in health care, but also as a member of the USA rugby team. READ MORE
Bakary Meité: Back-row to front-line hospital cleaner
Bakary Meite's story of volunteering at a Paris hospital during the coronavirus pandemic has been seen, heard and read across the world, but the Ivory Coast back-row remains humble about his efforts. READ MORE HERE, HERE and HERE
Shailen Tudu launches hunger-defeating foundation in Kolkata
"I realised more people would die of hunger than the virus. I started with only some people around the Maidan, my second home. The scale of the campaign kept growing. I have many friends who helped me sustain this for so long," said former India star Shailen Tudu. READ MORE
Jamie Roberts volunteers for the NHS
Jamie Roberts, the 33-year-old centre with 94 Wales caps, is a qualified doctor, having completed a medical degree at Cardiff University in 2013.
“I haven’t worked clinically since I graduated, which was a long time ago! So I doubt I'm going to do much clinical work, I’m just helping out with staff here however possible. The Principality Stadium has been converted into a field hospital. it’s incredible." READ MORE