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Shortlist for Rugby Union Writers' Club personality of the year award released

By PA
Marcus Smith /PA

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France star Antoine Dupont features on the list of nominees for the Rugby Union Writers’ Club personality of the year for 2021.

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Dupont, the reigning World Rugby player of the year, has emerged as one of the game’s most exciting talents by redefining the role of a scrum-half through his electric running, robust defence and impeccable decision-making.

If the 25-year-old wins the vote, he will become only the second Frenchman to claim the prestigious Pat Marshall Memorial Award currently held by Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter. The great French flanker and captain Jean-Pierre Rives took the honour in 1981.

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Joining Dupont on the list of nominees for 2021 is Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, who showed his remarkable powers of recovery to return to lead the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa despite dislocating his shoulder in the warm-up match against Japan.

The 36-year-old lock has amassed a remarkable 149 caps for Wales and 12 Test appearances for the Lions.

Also present is Dan Leo, chief executive of Pacific Islands Welfare who continues to campaign to great effect on behalf of Pacific Islands rugby, highlighting the exploitation of some of the game’s greatest servants.

Marcus Smith is included after steering Harlequins to their first Gallagher Premiership title since 2012 in a breakthrough season also notable for his England and Lions debuts.

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Second row Zoe Aldcroft, the current women’s Word Rugby player of the year, is one of two representatives from the Red Roses after emerging as an indomitable force in an 18-game winning run that has elevated England to the summit of the global rankings.

Completing the six-strong list is their head coach Simon Middleton after he masterminded the team’s stunning success which included consecutive record victories over the Black Ferns in the autumn.

The winner will be announced through the media and the RUWC’s Twitter account after the annual dinner in central London was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Greats of the game whose names have been engraved on the winners’ trophy in the past include Gareth Edwards, Bill Beaumont, David Campese, Jonah Lomu, Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson, Maggie Alphonsi, Brian O’Driscoll and Dan Carter.

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Writers and broadcasters from the club’s 280 members have cast their votes for the Pat Marshall Memorial Award, which has been presented by the club every year since 1976.

The Rugby Union Writers’ Club was founded in January 1960 to further the interests of its members – drawn mainly from the UK, but also from around the world – and the sport of rugby union.

The leading nominees for the winner of the Rugby Union Writers’ Club’s personality of the year for 2021 are, in alphabetical order: Zoe Aldcroft, Antoine Dupont, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Leo, Simon Middleton, Marcus Smith.

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