Irish flanker Josh van der Flier was named Men’s Player of the Year at the World Rugby Awards on Sunday.
Van der Flier played an influential role when Ireland won an away series in New Zealand for the first time and climbed to the top of the world rankings.
He also scored five tries in 11 tests.
The Irish striker, who has Dutch grandparents, beat team-mate Jonny Sexton, as well as South African Lukhanyo Am and Frenchman Antoine Dupont for the prize.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky to have great teammates and coaches who really pushed me, and my wife and family who are so supportive,” the 29-year-old said.
“I always felt that I had to play my best all the time, otherwise I wouldn’t play.”
Asked about his highlight of the year, Van der Flier said: “The win in New Zealand was right there, in rugby terms, but my wife is sitting there watching me and I got married in August, so it must probably be at the top.”
Black Ferns co-captain Demant produced a player of the match performance in the 34-31 win over pre-tournament favorites England at Eden Park.
She beat England’s Alex Matthews, Canada’s Sophie de Goede, France’s Laure Sansus and fellow Black Fern Portia Woodman for the award.
“I come from a very small place in New Zealand and to be able to put on the black jersey is a dream,” said Demant.
“I didn’t know much about the Black Ferns when I was a kid. Women’s rugby was never accessible or something you aspired to follow because you never had any role models to look up to.”
Demant’s teammate Ruby Tui won the award for Breakthrough Player of the Year after his move from seven, while Italy’s versatile full-back Ange Capuozzo won the same accolade on the men’s side.
After winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics with the seven-man team, she rose to 15 and was part of New Zealand’s World Cup-winning squad.
“It’s such an honor to win this award and, at 27 and a half, I think I’ve set the record for oldest rookie at 15, but hey, I’ll take it,” she said. .
Tui also received another World Cup winner’s medal after presenting his original medal to a young fan who had recovered from leukemia after the final.
England’s Maud Muir was among the other nominees.
Meanwhile, Capuozzo came out on top in a category that included England’s Henry Arundell and Irish duo Mack Hansen and Dan Sheehan.
The rising star’s recognition came just a week after scoring two tries to help his country claim a first victory against Australia.
New Zealand women’s coach Wayne Smith has been named Coach of the year after leading his side to a 34-31 World Cup final victory over England.
The two-time Men’s World Cup-winning coach was only brought in to lead the side at the start of this year and experienced a dramatic turnaround in their fortunes – they had suffered two record defeats against England in 2021.
Irish men Andy Farrell, England women Simon Middleton and Fabien Galthie of the France men’s team – who were unbeaten in 2022 – were the other nominees.
“I feel quite uncomfortable accepting this award given the quality of the other coaches who have been nominated, but also very honoured,” Smith said.
England’s Abby Dow’s sensational score against Canada in the Rugby World Cup semi-final earned her the International Women’s Rugby Try of the Year prize, the Chilean Rodrigo Fernandez winning the Male Essay of the Year Award for a solo effort against the United States this summer.
Irishman Terry Kennedy has been named World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Yearwhile the women’s prize went to Australian Charlotte Caslick.
There were also special mentions for the World Rugby Referee Award who went to Tappe Henning from South Africa, Dr. Farah Palmer received the Vernon Pugh Distinguished Service Award And one International Rugby Players Special Merit Award was introduced to former Springboks winger Bryan Habana, who was part of South Africa’s 2007 World Cup-winning squad.
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