Scottish names absent as World Rugby awards nominees are announced
Scottish names were conspicuous by their absence as the short-lists for World Rugby’s annual awards were announced on Monday.
In a year when Gregor Townsend’s men’s side beat England, France and Australia and Bryan Easson’s women’s team won through to the final World Cup 2021 qualifying tournament, it might have been expected that their achievements would be reflected in the nominations.
Unfortunately, they are not quoted and the nine countries who supply the nominees in eight categories are Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and Wales.
England lock Maro Itoje is a surprise inclusion on the four-strong short-list for men’s world player of the year. The 27-year-old Saracens forward features alongside France scrum-half Antoine Dupont, Australia captain Michael Hooper and his Wallabies colleague Samu Kerevi.
Despite their Test series victory over the British and Irish Lions, no players from South Africa feature.
The women’s player of the year award will be contested by England forwards Zoe Aldcroft and Poppy Cleall and French pair Caroline Boujard and Laure Sansus.
Dave Rennie is nominated for coach of the year. The Australia chief steered the Wallabies to back-to-back wins over South Africa in the Rugby Championship but came unstuck at Murrayfield last weekend when Scotland beat them 15-13.
The former Glasgow Warriors coach is nominated alongside Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney, who led New Zealand to Olympic gold in the women’s sevens in Tokyo, Simon Middleton, the coach behind England’s Women’s Six Nations success, and Ian Foster, who coached New Zealand to victory in the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup.
Three wingers and a stand-off are in the running for breakthrough player of the year.
They wingers are Will Jordan, the second-fastest All Black to 15 Test tries, Andrew Kellaway, who had eight tries in 12 Tests in 2021, and Louis Rees-Zammit who became the youngest Lions player for more than 50 years after impressing for Wales. Marcus Smith completes the list after a memorable season at 10 for Harlequins, England and the Lions.
Scotland are on the receiving end in both try of the year lists.
Damian Penaud’s score in France’s defeat by Townsend’s side in the Six Nations is short-listed in the men’s category alongside team-mate Pierre-Louis Barassi’s try against Australia, Lukhanyo Am’s effort for South Africa A against the Lions and Luke Jacobson’s fine finish for the All Blacks against Argentina.
In the women’s category Sara Barattin’s try for Italy in the World Cup qualifier against Scotland is short-listed alongside tries from Emilie Boulard for France against Wales,
Abby Dow for England against France and Romane Ménager for France against Ireland.
In sevens, the men’s player of the year nominees are Napolioni Bolaca, Jiuta Wainiqolo (both Fiji), Scott Curry (New Zealand) and Marcos Moneta (Argentina), while the women’s quartet comprises two more Fijians, Alowesi Nakoci and Reapi Ulunisau, Anne-Cécile Ciofani of France and Sarah Hirini of New Zealand.
Fans can vote for the players of the year in sevens and 15s, as well as the tries of the year. Voting is open until 23:59 GMT on Sunday, 21 November.
The breakthrough player, coach and referee of the year will be selected by a World Rugby awards panel who will also review the public voting “to ensure the recipients are fitting winners in their respective category”.
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