The contenders for the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) Try of the Year 2017 have been revealed, with the winner to be announced at the World Rugby Awards in Monte Carlo on 26 November.
Two solo tries are shortlisted with New Zealand winger Portia Woodman’s score in the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 semi-final and Georgia scrum-half Gela Aprasidze’s effort in the World Rugby U20 Championship joined by scores finished off by Argentina full-back Joaquin Tuculet and British and Irish Lions flanker Sean O’Brien.
The four tries were selected by the IRPA Try of the Year panel of former players: Stefan Terblanche and Andries Pretorius of South Africa, Hale T-Pole of Tonga and Ireland’s Isaac Boss.
The winner, though, will be determined by rugby fans on Twitter with the public vote beginning today and ending on 26 November with guests at the awards able to view and cast their votes before the accolade is presented later in the evening.
A specific voting poll is now live on World Rugby’s Twitter page (twitter.com/worldrugby) where fans are encouraged to visit to cast their vote.
GELA APRASIDZE – #VoteAprasidze
The diminutive Georgia scrum-half had grabbed the headlines for his long-range penalties in the tournament but in the ninth-place play-off against Ireland he used his quick feet to run in a solo try from 60 metres out. He sidestepped the first defender and darted through a gap, twisting one way then the other before stepping inside the last line of defence to score and bring the Georgian crowd to their feet at the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium in Tbilisi.
SEAN O’BRIEN – #VoteOBrien
The move began deep in the Lions’ 22 when Liam Williams stood up the New Zealand captain, Kieran Read, and took off across the Eden Park pitch. He made it to halfway before finding his fellow Welshman, Jonathan Davies, the centre combining with Elliot Daly before popping the ball out to the supporting O’Brien five metres from the line to add the finishing touch as half-time approached in the first test of the series.
JOAQUIN TUCULET – #VoteTuculet
Another breakout that began deep in a team’s own 22 after Juan Manuel Leguizamon fielded an England kick in their first test with Argentina in San Juan and the ball found its way to Matias Orlando, the centre slicing through the visitor’s defence with ease. He found Emiliano Boffelli in support, the test debutant straightening the attack before releasing Tuculet to sprint away from the England defence to finish off the free-flowing move.
PORTIA WOODMAN – #VoteWoodman
A New Zealand scrum on the USA 10-metre line provided an attacking platform midway through the first half of this Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 semi-final and Woodman needed no second invitation. Having switched to the left wing, she came infield to collect the pass from scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge and then danced her way through the defence, changing direction and switching hands several times to leave five defenders in her wake before diving under the posts for her 10th try of the tournament – and first of four in the match.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “The World Rugby Awards celebrate excellence in rugby, honouring the world’s greatest players, coaches and teams as well as those who have given so much to the sport. The past year has produced some amazing performances by all the best men’s and women’s teams, in both 15s and sevens, so voting for the 2017 awards has been especially close and hard-fought. Each person in this shortlist thoroughly deserves this nomination.
“This shortlist showcases the very best of our sport – the great scores that fans love and moments that inspire children to get up, get active and get into rugby. This shortlist features exceptional, skill, quality and teamwork and we look forward to the winner being announced in Monaco.”
IRPA Chief Executive Omar Hassanein said: “There are some fantastic team tries amongst this year’s shortlist, pretty much all from long range and requiring the combined efforts of a large number of players. Whoever wins this award will do so in the knowledge that it is the collective achievement of many players – in essence, what the International Rugby Players’ Association as an organisation is all about. We hope the rugby-supporting public enjoy watching this fantastic compilation as much as we do, and wish all the shortlisted nominees the very best of luck on the night.”