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England captain Marlie Packer crowned world’s best after winning WXV1

By Finn Morton
Captain Marlie Packer of England celebrates with the WXV1 trophy after victory in the WXV1 match between New Zealand Silver Ferns and England at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart on November 04, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)

After helping England secure the inaugural WXV1 title with a commanding win over New Zealand, captain Marlie Packer was named this year’s World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year.

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Packer was called onto the stage at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium to collect the prestigious award from World Rugby Director of Women’s Rugby Sally Horrox on Saturday evening.

“This is the biggest ever year of women’s international test matches and a dawn of a new era on the road to an expanded Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2025,” Horrox said.

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“We have witnessed huge performances during Six Nations, Pacific Four Series and most recently, WXV where the best of the best have shone on the biggest stage. 

“All our nominees have taken the game by storm this year, inspiring a new generation of girls and boys to follow rugby. A huge congratulations and thanks to all those honoured tonight.” 

Packer was also named in the World Rugby Women’s 15s Dream Team of the Year alongside six teammates including Lark Atkin-Davies, Sarah Bern, Zoe Aldcroft, Alex Matthews, Abby Dow and Ellie Kildunne.

The dream team also included six New Zealand players, including Player of the Year nominee Ruahei Demant. Krystal Murray, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, Amy du Plessis and Ruby Tui were also named.

Head-to-Head

Last 4 Meetings

Wins
3
Draws
0
Wins
1
Average Points scored
41
18
First try wins
75%
Home team wins
100%

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Black Ferns outside back Katelyn Vahaakolo was also recognised for an outstanding debut season in the New Zealand jersey after receiving the Women’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year award. Vahaakolo has already scored five tries in her Test career.

Finally, Italy’s Sofia Stefan has taken out the International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year after crossing for a stunning score against Ireland back in April.

The World Rugby statement reads:

WORLD RUGBY AWARDS 2023 WINNERS

World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year in partnership with Mastercard

Marlie Packer (England)

England captain Marlie Packer is a relentless force in the back row, leading by example with her tough defence but equally adept in attack and is the leading try-scorer in women’s test rugby this year with 11.

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World Rugby Women’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year in partnership with Tudor

Katelyn Vahaakolo (New Zealand)

Katelyn Vahaakolo made her Black Ferns debut alongside fellow nominee Mererangi Paul and has been a constant threat with her pace and footwork, scoring five tries so far in her international career.

International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year

Sofia Stefan (Italy)

Sofia Stefan has won the fan vote for best try of the year for her performance against Ireland back on 15 April. With a flowing move from an Italian scrum inside the Ireland half, the backs worked it wide before finding Beatrice Ronfi inside, the centre falling just short after a desperate tap-tackle but alert to offload to Sofia Stefan in support.

World Rugby Women’s 15s Dream Team of the Year in partnership with Capgemini

The three top-ranked women’s 15s nations are represented in the Dream Team with WXV 1 hosts New Zealand claiming six players, Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 hosts England boasting seven players and the Les Bleues of France feature two players in the line-up.

  1. Krystal Murray (NZL)
  2. Lark Atkin-Davies (ENG)
  3. Sarah Bern (ENG)
  4. Zoe Aldcroft (ENG)
  5. Maiakawanakaulani Roos (NZL)
  6. Alex Matthews (ENG)
  7. Marlie Packer (ENG)
  8. Liana Mikaele-Tu’u (NZL)
  9. Pauline Bourdon Sansus (FRA)
  10. Ruahei Demant (NZL)
  11. Abby Dow (ENG)
  12. Gabrielle Vernier (FRA)
  13. Amy du Plessis (NZL)
  14. Ruby Tui (NZL)
  15. Ellie Kildunne (ENG)
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