Johnny Sexton and Josh van der Flier on shortlist for World Player of the Year

Mack Hansen, Dan Sheehan, Aimee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Terry Kennedy, Linda Djougang and Andy Farrell all also up for awards

Johnny Sexton and Josh van der Flier have both been nominated on the four-man World Player of the Year shortlist, and will thus join the rest of the eight-strong Irish contingent nominated for various awards at the ceremony in Monaco on Sunday.

Sexton, the 2018 winner who was also shortlisted in 2014, and van der Flier have been joined by the Springboks centre Lukhanyo Am and the reigning World Player of the Year, French captain Antoine Dupont.

The remarkable Sexton has had another exceptional year, playing in eight of Ireland’s ten Tests, the exceptions being the Six Nations defeat in Paris and last week’s win over Fiji. He captained Ireland to the Triple Crown and a second place Six Nations finish, as well as the historic series win in New Zealand and the victory over South Africa which cemented Ireland’s place atop the world rankings, scoring 69 points along the way.

Van der Flier was expected to be on the shortlist after an astonishingly consistent, durable and effective year as a carrier, tackler and try-scorer. The 29-year-old flanker had been an ever-present until last week’s game against Fiji, playing every minute of his nine internationals bar the last eight minutes of the Third Test in New Zealand, and scored four tries.


It is only the third time Ireland has had two players nominated for the prestigious award. In 2009, both Brian O’Driscoll (who was also nominated three times) and Jamie Heaslip made a seven-man shortlist, while O’Driscoll was also nominated when Keith Wood was the inaugural winner in 2001.

Meanwhile, Mack Hansen and Dan Sheehan have both been named on the four-man shortlist for the World Rugby Men’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year, while Andy Farrell has been included in the nominations for Coach of the Year.

The 24-year-old Hansen only made his debut in Ireland’s Six Nations opener against Wales in Dublin and a week later announced himself on the world stage with his first Test try when claiming Joey Carbery’s restart on the run and scoring against France in Stade de France.

Hansen has played in eight of Ireland’s ten Tests so far this season, only missing the win away to England and the first Test defeat against the All Blacks through Covid, before returning to play a leading role in both subsequent wins over the All Blacks.

His skill-set as a creative player has made him an integral part of the Irish game, and he’s added further tries in the wins over South Africa and Fiji.

Sheehan, also 24, came into the year having made his Irish debut the previous November against Japan, and also was a replacement in the win over Argentina. A replacement in the opening two Six Nations games against Wales and France, with Rónan Kelleher injured Sheehan then made his first Test start in the Six Nations win over Italy.

He had been the starting hooker ever since until being used as a replacement last Saturday against Fiji, playing an integral role in the series win in New Zealand and the victory over South Africa.

The Irish duo face stiff competition from England’s Henry Arundell and particularly the Italian fullback Ange Capuozzo, who scored twice on his debut against Scotland in the Six Nations and then set up the match-winning try as the Azzurri secured a first win against Wales in 15 years. He also scored two superb tries in their first-ever win over Australia in Florence last Saturday.

Farrell is also on a competitive shortlist which also features French head coach Fabien Galthié, the England women’s coach Simon Middleton and his New Zealand counterpart Wayne Smith, who is now probably favourite after guiding the the Black Ferns to a sixth Rugby World Cup triumph in last Saturday’s dramatic final against England in Eden Park.

Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe is named on a shortlist of four for the Sevens Player of the Year award after leading the 2022 Series try-scoring charts with 36.

Terry Kennedy has been included in the four-man shortlist for the Sevens Player of the Year after signing off his remarkable 7s career by being the second highest try-scorer with 50 during the 2022 Series, and helping Ireland to victory in the Rugby World Cup Sevens  bronze final. Kennedy is currently abroad taking time away from the sport.

Linda Djougang’s try for Ireland against Wales in the Six Nations featuring Sam Monaghan’s stunning offload is also one five tries nominated for Women’s Try of the Year.

World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year

Lukhanyo Am (South Africa)

Antoine Dupont (France)

Johnny Sexton (Ireland)

Josh van der Flier (Ireland)

World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year

Sophie de Goede (Canada)

Ruahei Demant (New Zealand)

Alex Matthews (England)

Laure Sansus (France)

Portia Woodman (New Zealand)

World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year

* Charlotte Caslick (Australia)

* Maddison Levi (Australia)

* Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe (Ireland)

* Faith Nathan (Australia)

World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year

* Terry Kennedy (Ireland)

* Nick Malouf (Australia)

* Kaminieli Rasaku (Fiji)

* Corey Toole (Australia)

International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year

* Sylvia Brunt (New Zealand v Wales on 16th October)

* Emily Chancellor (Australia, v England on 30th October)

* Abby Dow (England v Canada on 5th November)

* Linda Djougang (Ireland, v Wales on 26th March)

* Nomawethu Mabenge (South Africa, v Spain on 12th August)

International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year

* Rodrigo Fernandez (Chile, v USA on 9th July)

* Lalakai Foketi (Australia v France on 5th November)

* Chris Harris (Scotland, v Italy on 12th March)

* Edoardo Padovani (Italy, v Wales on 19th March)

* Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales, v South Africa on 2nd July)

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times