On a night to remember in the presence of Their Serene Highnesses Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco and greats of the game past and present, the rugby family celebrated some outstanding achievers at the World Rugby Awards 2017 on 26 November.

Twelve awards in total were presented in the Principality with New Zealand's Black Ferns creating a piece of World Rugby Awards history when they were named World Rugby Team of the Year 2017.

They beat the All Blacks and England men's 15s to the prestigious award, becoming the first women's team to the accolade since the World Rugby Awards began in 2001.

It was a fitting reward for a year that saw them win a fifth Women's Rugby World Cup title in Ireland in August.

Black Ferns star Portia Woodman had further cause to celebrate after being named the World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year 2017 in association with Mastercard, a tournament in which she scored an incredible 13 tries - eight against Hong Kong in the pool stages and four in the semi-final win over USA, one of which was nominated for the IRPA Try of the Year 2017 - to finish as top point and try scorer.

Woodman said: “Obviously just winning the Team of the Year award shows just how good our team is, and they make me look good. They do all the work and I am out there on the sideline just waiting for the ball. My mum wasn’t a big fan of me playing rugby, but I think she was going to support me no matter what and, without them (my parents), I obviously wouldn’t be where I am because they pushed me to do everything I can to the best of my ability.”

Michaela Blyde, like Woodman an HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series 2016-17 winner, was named the World Rugby Women's Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC after a season which saw her score 40 tries across six events. 

The achievements of two other women were also celebrated on the night with Ireland's Joy Neville the recipient of the World Rugby Referee Award and England centre Rachael Burford receiving the IRPA Special Merit award alongside two-time Rugby World Cup winning captain Richie McCaw.

World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard – Portia Woodman (New Zealand)

The 26-year-old played every minute of the Black Ferns’ successful WRWC 2017 campaign, scoring 13 tries – including eight against Hong Kong in the pool stages and four in their semi-final win over USA, one of which was nominated for IRPA Try of the Year – to finish as top try and point-scorer. If she wasn’t using her pace, power and unbelievable footwork to score herself she was creating opportunities for those around her. The former netballer, who only returned to 15s in May, played all eight of New Zealand’s tests in 2017, scoring 16 tries in total to take her career record to a remarkable 22 in just 16 tests.

Nominees: Kelly Brazier (New Zealand), Romane Menager (France), Safi N’Diaye (France), Lydia Thompson (England)

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World Rugby Team of the Year – New Zealand Women’s 15s

New Zealand won a fifth Women’s Rugby World Cup title in August after beating defending champions England 41-32 in a thrilling finale in Belfast, a result which took them back to the top of the World Rugby Women’s Rankings. The Black Ferns, with coach Glenn Moore and captain Fiao’o Faamausili leading the way, were the top point and try scorers in the tournament. This success came after New Zealand hosted the International Women’s Rugby Series in June with the hosts beating Australia and Canada before losing to England. New Zealand are the first women's team to receive the accolade.

Nominees: England Men’s 15s, New Zealand Men’s 15s

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World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Michaela Blyde (New Zealand)

Michaela Blyde enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2016-17 under new Black Ferns Sevens coach Allan Bunting. Her potential had always been clear to see, but Portia Woodman’s move into the forwards gave her the chance to make a starting spot her own. Blyde’s performances saw her finish as top try-scorer with 40, take her place in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Dream Team and be named DHL Impact Player of the Series.

Nominees: Ghislaine Landry (Canada), Ruby Tui (New Zealand)

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World Rugby Referee Award – Joy Neville (Ireland)

A veteran of 70 caps for Ireland, Joy Neville is now creating history in the world of refereeing in a year that has seen her take charge of the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 final in August and referee her first men’s international in Rugby Europe’s Conference 2 North in October. This month she is acting as assistant referee for three men’s matches, having recently signed a professional contract with the IRFU.

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IRPA Special Merit Award – Richie McCaw (New Zealand) and Rachael Burford (England)

Rachael Burford is, like McCaw, a Rugby World Cup winner, having won the title with England in 2014. The 31-year-old’s other three Women’s Rugby World Cup appearances have ended in final defeats, including earlier this year in Ireland. A former England Player of the Year, Burford has also contributed extensively to player welfare and the game in general by sitting on a number of panels over the last four years, including the World Rugby Laws Review Group, Rugby Committee and Women’s Advisory Committee. She became the first female Board Member of the Rugby Players’ Association in 2014 and has been an IRPA representative and Rugby Athletes’ Commissions since then as well. Burford also runs her own girls’ rugby academy, helping to develop the next generation of players on and off the field.

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Full list of World Rugby Awards winners

World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year, in association with Mastercard – Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year, in association with Mastercard – Portia Woodman (New Zealand)
World Rugby Team of the Year – New Zealand Women’s 15s
World Rugby Coach of the Year – Eddie Jones (England)
World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in association with TUDOR – Rieko Ioane (New Zealand)
World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Perry Baker (USA)
World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Michaela Blyde (New Zealand)
World Rugby Referee Award – Joy Neville (Ireland)
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Marcel Martin (France)
Award for Character – Eduardo Oderigo (Argentina)
IRPA Special Merit Award – Richie McCaw (New Zealand) and Rachael Burford (England)
IRPA Try of the Year – Joaquin Tuculet (Argentina, v England)

For more details on the World Rugby Awards, visit www.worldrugby.org/awards