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Marlie Packer named World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year

MELBOURNE: England captain Marlie Packer has been named this year’s World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year in partnership with Mastercard, receiving the coveted award in front of fans and her rugby comrades at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart at the conclusion of WXV 1 on Saturday, 4 November.

Packer was welcomed on stage to receive her award from World Rugby Director of Women’s Rugby Sally Horrox just moments after the Red Roses beat New Zealand in the final match of the inaugural WXV 1 competition in Auckland, New Zealand.

“[I’m on] cloud nine. To be honest, when I got tired, I actually had some tears,” Packer said.

New Zealand outside-back Katelyn Vahaakolo was crowned World Rugby Women’s Breakthrough Player of the Year in partnership with Tudor after excelling in six Black Ferns caps since she made the switch from rugby league to rugby union in 2022.

The International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year was awarded to Sofia Stefan after fans had the opportunity to cast their vote from a shortlist of four nominees.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “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. 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.”

The accolades complete the World Rugby Awards 2023, which was hosted at the Opéra Garnier in Paris, France, on Sunday, 29 October following the culmination of Rugby World Cup 2023.

Tyla Nathan-Wong (New Zealand) received the award for World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in partnership with HSBC, at the awards ceremony in Paris, beating off competition from team-mate Michaela Blyde, Maddison Levi (Australia) and Reapi Ulunisau (Fiji).

World Rugby deemed it appropriate to leave it until as late as possible to determine the three winners and the Dream Team, to capture and reflect the performances across the three WXV levels.

Three of the awards were selected by the esteemed World Rugby Awards panel, while the International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year was decided by a fan vote on social media.

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.

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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