Sexton, Ireland take top gongs at World Rugby Awards

Joe Schmidt says he will step down from his role as Ireland coach after the 2019 World Cup in Japan. AFP

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt was named coach of the year and Ireland were team of the year.

"Sport has the ability to lift people out of the day-to-day concerns of life and Joe, and his team, have provided historic moments of great joy, that will live long in the memories of everyone in the rugby family", Browne said.

Sexton didn't speak after being presented with the award, but Ireland captain Rory Best read out a statement prepared by the out-half: "Apologies for my throat infection, laryngitis, lost my voice!" We haven't peaked, so we're just getting better and hopefully we can continue to do that.

Ireland's world-class fly-half - who crowned an extraordinary year by being named world player of 2018 on Sunday in Monaco - was instrumental in persuading Schmidt to leave French club Clermont where he was assistant coach in 2010 and take on the top role at Irish province Leinster.

"Aphiwe has been sensational since making the step up to senior provincial rugby and after a superb debut season for the Emirates Lions in Vodacom Super Rugby, he was deservedly called up to the Springbok squad", said Mr Alexander.

"Thank you so much, it is an incredible honour".

Ireland's captain, Rory Best, read out Sexton's speech due to the award victor losing his voice.




We have some of the best coaches in the world and are led superbly by.me (Best). and Pete (O'Mahony).

"We are incredibly fortunate to have a coach of the calibre of Andy Farrell in Irish Rugby".

"I've committed to a certain time-frame with them and I've stuck to that. Any of them would have been a worthy victor".

Jessy Tremouliere became the first French victor of the women's player of the year award having helped Les Bleues win the Six Nations Grand Slam. The other nominees were her France teammates Pauline Bourdon and Gaelle Hermet and New Zealand's Fiao'o Faamausili.

Australia's Angus Gardner picked up the Referee Award, with Doddie Weir scooping the Award for Character.

All Black wing Rieko Ioane won in 2017‚ England lock Maro Itoje (2016) and All Black wing Nehe Milner-Skudder (2015).

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.

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