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World Rugby Awards 2021: Breakthrough Player And Coach Of The Year Unveiled

World Rugby Awards Week

Winners for World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year and World Rugby Coach of the Year have been awarded to Will Jordan (New Zealand) and Simon Middleton (England).

The Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service will be unveiled later today at 17:00 GMT and the remaining six categories later this week (8-10 December) on social media (Twitter, FacebookInstagram). 

World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year 2021 in association with Tudor: Will Jordan (New Zealand) 

One of a number of young wingers to announce their arrival on the world stage over the last 12 months, Will Jordan caught the eye not just for his try-scoring exploits for the All Blacks but also his work off the ball, unlocking defences for team-mates with regularity.

A record of 15 tries in 11 tests in 2021, including five against Tonga and a hat-trick against USA saw him become the second-fastest All Black to reach 15 tries.

Jordan only failed to score in two matches and given his phenomenal strike rate, had he been available for all 15 tests that the All Blacks played in 2021, it’s likely he would have got the two tries he needed to set a new All Blacks record.

He is the third All Black to win this award after Nehe Milner-Skudder (2015) and Rieko Ioane (2017).  

World Rugby Coach of the Year 2021: Simon Middleton (England Women)  

Simon Middleton creates history as the first coach of a women’s team to win the prestigious award, having guided the Red Roses through a second successive calendar year unbeaten and 18 test wins in a row, including back-to-back record wins over world champions New Zealand in November.

Middleton, in his seventh year as England head coach, saw his side score 57 tries and conceded only 10 in 2021 as they added another Women’s Six Nations title to their honours roll.  

International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year: Damian Penaud (France, v Scotland on 26 March) 

Going from one 22 to another, France fashioned a score for the ages against Scotland in their delayed Six Nations matches at the Stade de France.

Taking a quick tap from a marked box kick, full-back Brice Dulin set off on an electrifying run before finding Romain Ntamack and Arthur Vincent in support.

Antoine Dupont swiftly transferred the ball away from the breakdown and Virimi Vakatawa drew the defence before offloading to Damian Penaud whose footballing skills – including a chip, case and dribble – took him over in the corner for a wonderful try. 

International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year: Emilie Boulard (France, v Wales on 3 April) 

Trailing 43-0 with under three minutes to play, Wales managed to clear their lines but only to near halfway where hat-trick scorer Caroline Boujard fielded the kick and immediately found Jessy Trémoulière.

France worked the ball out to Emilie Boulard on the left-wing, the debutant full-back finding Maëlle Filopon on the loop around to take play into the Welsh 22.

The centre passed inside to Camille Imart, who drew the defence before passing back out to Boulard to go over in the corner.

Nominees: Sara Barattin (Italy, v Scotland on 13 September), Abby Dow (England, v France on 30 April), Romane Ménager (France, v Ireland on 17 April) 

World Rugby Referee Award: Andrew Cole (Australia) 

Andrew Cole refereed 44 Super Rugby games and 31 test matches from 1997-2005.

The Australian’s test debut was Samoa v Tonga in 1997 with his final test being Ireland v Romania eight years later. He also refereed the second test between New Zealand and the British and Irish Lions in 2005.

Selected as a referee for Rugby World Cup 1999 and 2003, he was a referee selector from 2012 through RWC 2015. Cole was head coach of referees at Rugby Australia from 2010-17 and is a Life Member of the Queensland Rugby Referees’ Association.

Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service: Jacques Laurans (France)  

 A well-known personality in world rugby, Jacques Laurans had a successful playing career, winning junior and senior titles in France in 1958 and 1965 respectively, before moving into administration and holding roles with the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR), World Rugby and the Six Nations.

He spent 25 years with the FFR in various roles and was a World Rugby Council member for France from 1997-2016, as well as a Rugby World Cup Director from 2000-08.

He is currently president of the Albert Ferrasse Federation which helps injured rugby players in France.  

World Rugby Men’s 15s Dream Team of the Year in association with Capgemini 
Unveiled on Wednesday, 8 December 

World Rugby Women’s 15s Dream Team of the Year in association with Capgemini  
Unveiled on Wednesday, 8 December 

World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC  
Unveiled on Thursday, 9 December 

World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC  
Unveiled on Thursday, 9 December 

World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard
Unveiled on Friday, 10 December  

World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard
Unveiled on Friday, 10 December  


Six categories were open to an online public vote. From 15-21 November, rugby fans had the ability to select their deserving winner for World Rugby Men’s and Women’s 15s and Sevens Players of the Year as well as Men’s and Women’s Try of the Year on the Awards’ voting website. 

The remaining six categories have been voted by the World Rugby Awards panel, a stellar team of rugby legends who had the hard task of selecting winners for the World Rugby Breakthrough, Coach and Referee awards as well as the newly created Men’s and Women’s 15s Dream Teams of 2021.