World Rugby has announced the three players that have been nominated for Women’s Player of the Year 2015.
New Zealand scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge, France captain Gaëlle Mignot and Ireland second-row Sophie Spence have made the shortlist for the prestigious award, with the winner to be announced at the World Rugby Awards in London on 1 November.
The nominees were announced one year on from the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 final in Paris, when England beat Canada. The tournament was a watershed moment for the women’s game with huge audiences and record-breaking TV viewing figures giving a massive boost to the sport.
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “On behalf of World Rugby, I wish to extend my congratulations to Gaëlle, Kendra and Sophie for securing their Player of the Year nomination, and for their skill, power, discipline and consistency required to excel at the highest level.
“Women’s rugby is one of the fastest growing team sports in the world, and we’re focused on building on the incredible success of last year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup in Paris which engaged fans like never before.”
The panel selecting the shortlist is made up of former players Sue Day (England), Melodie Robinson (New Zealand) and Fiona Coghlan (Ireland) as well as The Sunday Times rugby correspondent Stephen Jones and World Rugby Council member John Jeffrey.
The World Rugby Awards will take place at Battersea Evolution in London the day after the Rugby World Cup 2015 final.
Now in their 14th year, this will be the first time the global rugby family have come together for a World Rugby Awards gala dinner since 2011 in New Zealand and the night will see 12 prestigious awards presented.
The World Rugby 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.
Kendra Cocksedge (New Zealand)
An influential member of the Black Ferns side, both for her prowess as a goal-kicker and the way she unleashes the talented New Zealand backline. She made her test debut aged 19 and this Women’s Rugby World Cup winner is now firmly established in the national team. The 27-year-old was an integral part of New Zealand’s success at the Women’s Rugby Super Series, producing a kicking masterclass as her side beat world champions England along with USA and their hosts Canada to claim the inaugural title.
Gaëlle Mignot (France)
Her passion and commitment to the cause is clear for all to see each time she takes to the pitch as she leads Les Bleuets by example and inspires those around her. She took over the captaincy in early 2014 and led her country to the Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam and the Women’s Rugby World Cup semi-finals on home soil. A hooker with a real eye for the try-line, Mignot has continued that good form into 2015, crossing for tries in the wins over Wales and England, as France missed out on a second title in a row only on points difference to Ireland.
Sophie Spence (Ireland)
Spence cuts an imposing figure in the second-row and started all five matches as Ireland claimed a second Women’s Six Nations title in three years following four victories in 2015. The 28-year-old was discovered by former Ireland coach Phillip Doyle playing in England and made her test debut in the 2012 Six Nations. She has since developed from a raw talent into a key figure in the Ireland team and has been described as “a player with genuine explosive power, a good ball carrier and defender.”