Johnny Sexton, Joe Schmidt and the Ireland team all pick up trophies on night of sweeping success

Johnny Sexton, Joe Schmidt and the Ireland team all pick up trophies on night of extraordinary success for Irish rugby at the World Rugby Awards

  • Ireland rugby completed a stunning hat-trick at the World Rugby Awards 
  • Johnny Sexton was crowned Player of the Year at the ceremony in Monte Carlo 
  • Joe Schmidt won the Coach of the Year award and Ireland won Team of the Year
  • They won the 2018 Six Nations and beat New Zealand at home for the first time

Rory Keane For The Irish Daily Mail

Johnny Sexton capped off a memorable 12 months by being named World Rugby Player of the Year on Sunday night.

Sexton pipped All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett to the top prize in Monte Carlo. New Zealand wing Rieko Ioane was also nominated along with the Springboks pairing of Faf de Klerk and Malcolm Marx.

Barrett took home the award for the past two years but Sexton’s stellar form could not be ignored this time around.

Johnny Sexton was named World Rugby Player of the Year on a night that Ireland dominated

Johnny Sexton was named World Rugby Player of the Year on a night that Ireland dominated

Ireland were named Team of the Year, captain Rory Best collected the award in Monte Carlo

Ireland were named Team of the Year, captain Rory Best collected the award in Monte Carlo

The 33-year-old spearheaded Leinster’s charge to a Pro14 and European Champions Cup double having steered Ireland to a Six Nations Grand Slam.

The Leinster fly-half played a key role in Ireland’s 2-1 series win in Australia in the summer.

The 16-9 win over New Zealand earlier this month – Ireland’s first ever on home soil – was the coup de grace to a brilliant year.

He is the first Irish player to claim the coveted award since Keith Wood in 2001.

Next year’s World Cup in Japan is now a major target, but Sexton, fresh from being named the best rugby player on the planet in 2018, insisted that Ireland have room for improvement.

Joe Schmidt completed the hat-trick for Ireland as he was named the Coach of the Year

Joe Schmidt completed the hat-trick for Ireland as he was named the Coach of the Year

Peter O'Mahony picked up the award on Schmidt's behalf at the ceremony in Monte Carlo

Peter O’Mahony picked up the award on Schmidt’s behalf at the ceremony in Monte Carlo

‘It’s been an incredible year for Irish rugby, to win everything we could, really,’ he said.

‘It’s been very special, and a few of us have ended up here tonight.

‘There are areas we’ve definitely highlighted to improve, which will be important in World Cup year.

‘Teams try to peak for World Cup years. People ask have we peaked too soon? We haven’t peaked, so we’re just getting better and hopefully we can continue to do that.

‘You have to improve ahead of the general curve. We know everyone else is going to get better.

It completes a remarkable year for Ireland who won the Six Nations Grand Slam in March

It completes a remarkable year for Ireland who won the Six Nations Grand Slam in March

They also beat New Zealand for the first time ever at home during the autumn internationals

They also beat New Zealand for the first time ever at home during the autumn internationals

‘We’ll be going into a lot of games now as favourites after what’s happened this year, so that will be a challenge for us.

‘We’ve got to deal with being favourites and I’m sure we can do that.’

Joe Schmidt was named coach of the year while his all-conquering Ireland side were named team of the year to cap off an incredible campaign for Irish rugby.

Munster and Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony, who accepted the award on Schmidt’s behalf, said: ‘He’s been a super coach over the last five years

‘He did text me to say he’d like to thank his management and his backroom staff.

‘It’s a huge team thing that he builds. He wanted to pay a huge thanks to them.’


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