Ireland's Johnny Sexton wins World Rugby's Player of the Year award
Ireland win Team of the Year and coach Joe Schmidt named World Rugby Coach of the Year
By Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 26/11/18 10:19am
Johnny Sexton has been named World Rugby's Player of the Year at the World Rugby Awards in Monaco.
The Ireland and Leinster fly-half has enjoyed a sensational year for club and country and landed the award ahead of two-time winner Beauden Barrett, his All Blacks team-mate Rieko Ioane, and South Africa pair Faf de Klerk and Malcolm Marx.
He is the first Irishman to win the accolade since Keith Wood in 2001 and the first player from the northern hemisphere to win the award since France's Thierry Dusautoir in 2011.
Ireland captain Rory Best gave a speech at the awards on behalf of Sexton, who was unable to speak due to a bout of laryngitis.
"Thank you to my team-mates and coaches," Best said on Sexton's behalf.
"If a No 10 wins an award like this it is due to the team around him and his coaches making his job easier."
Sexton was one of the stars of Ireland's run to a Six Nations Grand Slam, scoring 44 points, including the vital drop goal that secured victory over France. He also helped Ireland claim a first series win over Australia in 39 years and played a key role in Ireland's historic first victory over New Zealand in Dublin last week.
The 33-year-old also helped Leinster win the Pro 14 last season as well as the European Cup, a victory which saw him win the trophy for a fourth time.
Joe Schmidt, who hinted he may leave his post as Ireland coach after next year's World Cup, was named Coach of the Year, with his side named Team of the Year.
New Zealander Schmidt has guided Ireland from eighth to second in the world rankings in five years at the Test helm.
Former Scotland international Doddie Weir was presented with the 2018 Award for Character, recognising an individual, union or group whose words or deeds embody the true spirit of rugby by living or breathing its character.
Weir was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease around two years ago and has since set up the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation which has raised funds and spent almost £1m in the last year to try and find a solution to the incurable disease.
South Africa's Aphiwe Dyantyi pipped Ireland's Jordan Larmour to the Breakthrough Player of the Year award.
France's Jessy Tremouliere is World Rugby Women's 15s Player of the Year, with New Zealand's Michaela Blyde claiming the Women's Sevens award.
Jamie Armstrong of charity The Clan was handed the Spirit of Rugby Award, while Stephen Moore and DJ Forbes both picked up the IRP Special Merit Award. Australia's Angus Gardner picked up the Referee Award.