South Africa wing Aphiwe Dyantyi’s acceptance speech following his World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year award was one of the more heartwarming at the star-studded ceremony in Monte Carlo.
The speedster was lost for words but eventually found the courage to thank his family, friends and teammates.
The winger marked his Springbok debut with a try against England in June and hasn’t looked back, starting all 13 of South Africa’s tests in 2018 and scoring six tries, including braces against Argentina and in the win over world champions New Zealand in Wellington.
Blessed with pace and power, the 24-year-old was the joint top try-scorer in the Rugby Championship with five as South Africa finished as runners-up.
On a night to remember in the presence of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco and greats of the game past and present, the rugby family celebrated some outstanding achievers.
Ireland’s Johnny Sexton and France’s Jessy Trémoulière have been named World Rugby Men’s and Women’s 15s Player of the Year 2018 in association with Mastercard respectively at the World Rugby Awards in Monte Carlo on Sunday.
Sexton was named the World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year 2018, becoming the first Irish player to win the award since Keith Wood claimed the inaugural accolade in 2001.
He received the award ahead of four other nominees in New Zealand fly-half Beauden Barrett – winner for the last two years – and winger Rieko Ioane and South Africa scrum-half Faf de Klerk and hooker Malcolm Marx.
Sexton, in a statement read out by Ireland captain Rory Best after losing his voice, said: “Thank you to my team-mates and coaches. If a No.10 wins an award like this, it is due to the team around him and his coaches making his job easier. We have some of the best coaches in the world and are led superbly by Rory Best.
“I’d also like to thank my wife Laura who has been with me from the start. We’ve three young kids and she does absolutely everything to allow me to concentrate on the day job. I wouldn’t have been able to have the season I’ve had without her. Thank you so much, it is an incredible honour. I look at the other nominees and I admire all of them. Any of them would have been a worthy winner.”
Trémoulière is the first French recipient of the World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year award, having helped Les Bleues win the Six Nations Grand Slam.
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