(ISN) – The star-studded World Rugby Awards will take place at Battersea Evolution in London on 1 November, just a day after the Rugby World Cup 2015 final.
Now in their 14th year, this will be the first time the global rugby family has come together for a World Rugby Awards gala dinner since 2011 in New Zealand and the night will see 12 prestigious awards presented.
The awards recognise the top achievers in the game on and off the field at all levels and will include the crowning of the World Rugby Player, Team and Coach of the Year for 2015 with stars of women’s rugby and sevens also being honoured.
The re-launched awards see changes to the voting process introduced as well as new or expanded panels featuring legends of the game and media representatives.
The prestigious Player of the Year accolade, awarded to New Zealand second-row Brodie Retallick in 2014, will be presided over by Awards convenor and Rugby World Cup 1999 winning captain John Eales and features a panel of international stars with more than 500 tests to their names. For the first time every Rugby World Cup 2015 participating team will also have a vote, while members of the international media will also contribute to the process.
Convenor of the Player of the Year panel, Eales said: “2015 presents another exciting stage in the evolution of the World Rugby Player of the Year award. This year, the introduction of globally respected journalists to the panel, as well as taking on board the views from each of the international teams, makes this a truly unique and prestigious award.
“Rugby World Cup is about the best teams in the world taking on each other at their best and we want to find the best player out of all that lot.”
The Coach and Team of the Year awards in 2015 will be expanded to consider those across both men’s and women’s 15s and sevens.
The International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) Try of the Year award, won by South Africa’s Francois Hougaard in 2014, will see guests at the awards ceremony vote on the winner from a shortlist selected by a panel of former players, including Christian Cullen, Shane Horgan and Serge Betsen.
Two new awards introduced in 2015 are the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year and the Award for Character, while the Referee award has been expanded to consider both current and retired match officials.
The Breakthrough Player of the Year award replaces the Junior Player of the Year accolade and a panel including rugby legends George Gregan and Felipe Contepomi have been charged with the task of rewarding a player who has shone in the World Rugby U20 Championship or Trophy or in their first year on the international stage, be that in men’s or women’s, 15s or sevens.
The Award for Character, meanwhile, will honour an individual, union or group who, on or off the field, have demonstrated the true values of rugby.
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The World Rugby Awards are the ultimate accolade for members of the global rugby family. The awards acknowledge the ongoing contribution that players, coaches and others are making to the sport and, in this Rugby World Cup year, competition will be fierce for many of the award categories.
“In previous years, these recipients have been wonderful examples of how, through their selfless dedication to our sport and its character-building values, rugby can change lives, bring people together and provide tremendous camaraderie. And I believe 2015 will be no different.
“2015 is going to be a very special year for rugby fans all over the globe and I have no doubt that the World Rugby Awards will be a fitting recognition of those who have inspired participation around the world.”
World Rugby Player of the Year
World Rugby Team of the Year
World Rugby Coach of the Year
World Rugby Referee of the Year
IRPA Try of the Year
World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year
World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year
World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC
World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year
Award for Character
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service
IRPA Special Merit Award