Folau nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Israel Folau has been nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year, World Rugby announced overnight.

Folau, who is currently on a sabbatical from rugby, was a standout for the Wallabies this season, breaking the record for most Test tries in a calendar year for an Australia, with 12, ahead of Lote Tuqiri.

The fullback became the first Australian to score doubles in four Test matches this season and would have been on track to break the all-time Test try-scoring record if not for his decision to take time off during the Wallabies' Spring Tour.

Folau joins Owen Farrell (England), Maro Itoje (England), Beauden Barrett (New Zealand) and Rieko Ioane (New Zealand) as nominees for the award.

Despite the fact this is the third season that he has won the highest domestic honour, the John Eales Medal, Folau has never before been nominated for the global award.


Michael Hooper and David Pocock were both nominated for the award in 2015, with Pocock finishing just behind All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter in the final count.

No Australian has ever taken out the award, though the Wallabies are second in the standings when it comes to most nominations, having 13 players up for the gong since its 2001 inception, behind New Zealand (26).

The awards were decided by a new committee consisting of former players and coaches, consisting of Richie McCaw, George Gregan, John Smit, Maggie Alphonsi, Clive Woodward, Brian O'Driscoll, Fabien Galthie and World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot.

Fans, media and Test coaches and captains will also have a chance to have their say before the final winner is announced on November 26 in Monte Carlo.

The Wallabies last won the Bledisloe in 2002. Photo: Getty ImagesAustralia's Wallaroos missed out on the shortlist for the Women's Player of the Year, with Kelly Brazier (New Zealand), Romane Menager (France), Safi N’Diaye (France), Lydia Thompson (England) and Portia Woodman (New Zealand) up for that gong.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said the nominees were impressive on and off the field.

“There have been numerous highlights from a fascinating year of international rugby that comprised an outstanding Women’s Rugby World Cup, a compelling British and Irish Lions tour, Six Nations and The Rugby Championship competitions and a superb programme of Test rugby," he said.

“As ever, the selection of men’s and women’s 15s Player of the Year nominees by the panel has excellence as the core consideration and all are not just superb players, but role models.

“I am sure there will be lots of debate over the coming weeks. I’d like to thank the panel for their expert consideration and look forward to the winners being announced at the World Rugby Awards in Monaco.”

NOMINEES

World Rugby Player of the Year

Men's

Israel Folau

Beauden Barrett

Owen Farrell

Maro Itoje

Rieko Ioane

Women's

Kelly Brazier ( New Zealand)

Romane Menager (France)

Safi N'Diaye (France)

Lydia Thompson (England)

Portia Woodman (New Zealand)