World Rugby has revealed the shortlists for the Men’s and Women’s Sevens Players of the Year 2017 awards, in association with HSBC, which will be presented at the World Rugby Awards at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo on 26 November.
The shortlists feature the top try-scorers on the men’s and women’s series, three players who collected a series winners’ medal, six dream team members and an Olympic gold medallist.
The nominees for the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year 2017 in association with HSBC, are: Michaela Blyde (New Zealand), Ghislaine Landry (Canada) and Ruby Tui (New Zealand).
The nominees for the World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year 2017, in association with HSBC, are: Perry Baker (USA), Rosko Specman (South Africa) and Jerry Tuwai (Fiji).
WORLD RUGBY WOMEN’S SEVENS PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
MICHAELA BLYDE (NEW ZEALAND)
The youngest nominee at just 21, Michaela Blyde enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2016-17. Her potential was clear to see but Portia Woodman’s move into the forwards gave her the chance to make a starting spot her own. Blyde’s performances saw her finish as top try-scorer with 40 – including a record-equalling five against England in Langford – and be named DHL Impact Player of the Series.
GHISLAINE LANDRY (CANADA)
Handed the captaincy at the start of the season, Ghislaine Landry led Canada by example and finished as top point-scorer for the third series in a row, accumulating 269 points. The 29-year-old scored her 100th series try and became the all-time leading point-scorer in series history in a campaign which saw Canada win in Sydney and finish third overall. A calming presence on the field, she possesses both vision and pace and featured in four tournament dream teams in 2016-17.
RUBY TUI (NEW ZEALAND)
With her powerful running and work at the breakdown, Ruby Tui ensured her fourth series was one where her name was one of the first down on coach Allan Bunting’s list of starters. The 25-year-old prop played in all six tournaments as New Zealand rediscovered their dominance to win five titles, earning a place in the dream team at four tournaments and for the overall series like her fellow nominees.
WORLD RUGBY MEN’S SEVENS PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
PERRY BAKER (USA)
The oldest of the nominees at 31, Perry Baker enjoyed a season to remember in 2016-17, topping the charts for tries and points scored with 57 and 285 respectively. The USA Eagles flyer has electric pace and can make something out of nothing but has now developed the all-round game to go with his natural speed.
ROSKO SPECMAN (SOUTH AFRICA)
A key figure in South Africa’s dominant season as they claimed a first series title since 2008-09, Rosko Specman possesses an unbelievable step and a turn of pace that leaves opponents clutching at thin air. Previously an impact player off the bench, the 28-year-old has now become a must-have player in the starting line-up.
JERRY TUWAI (FIJI)
Fresh from winning an historic Olympic gold medal in Rio, Fiji playmaker Jerry Tuwai was carving open defences at will with his vision and step, making the most of his diminutive frame to dart through gaps. The season may not have been a successful one for Fiji, but the 28-year-old always played with a smile on his face.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Rugby sevens continues to go from strength to strength following a spectacular Olympic Games debut in Rio last year with record attendance, fan-engagement and viewership across the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
“These exceptional sevens athletes have been at the heart of the success story, inspiring a new generation of fans and players with their skill and athleticism. All are superb ambassadors for our sport and will play a huge part in the sevens success story for many seasons to come.”
These awards are two of 12 categories of awards, including the World Rugby Men’s and Women’s Players of the Year, World Rugby Team of the Year, World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year and Award for Character.