LONDON (Reuters) - New Zealand flyhalf Beauden Barrett joined an elite trio of All Black greats when he was named World Rugby Player of the Year for a second successive year on Sunday.
Barrett became only the second player to win the title of world’s best player two years in a row, matching the achievement of his former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw from in 2009 and 2010.
Barrett beat international team mate Rieko Ioane, England’s British and Irish Lions duo Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje and Australia fullback Israel Folau to the award.
The 26-year-old kept the title in New Zealand for a sixth successive year and joins McCaw and former All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter as the only players to win the award more than once.
Carter and McCaw won the award three times.
“I‘m very proud and surprised. I wanted to be better than last year and I still think I have plenty more to go,” Barrett said after receiving the award at a ceremony in Monte Carlo.
He had another remarkable year in the All Blacks number 10 jersey and celebrated his 50th test against Samoa with a two-try, 24-point haul.
He finished the drawn Lions series as top point scorer with 41, continued to torment defences with his instinctive running and captained the All Blacks for the first time in the victory over the Barbarians earlier this month.
New Zealand had more cause for celebration when Portia Woodman won the women’s Player of the Year trophy while her Black Ferns colleagues were hailed as the team of the year.
Woodman played a major part in helping the New Zealand women lift the World Cup for the fifth time in Ireland in August.
The 26-year-old Winger played every minute of the campaign, scoring a remarkable 13 tries and finishing the competition as top try and points scorer.
New Zealand’s world champions were the first women’s side to win the best team accolade while Eddie Jones, the Australian who has led England to 22 wins in 23 matches including nine victories this year, was coach of the year.
New Zealand’s winger Rieko Ioane won breakthrough player of the year, while the sevens players of the year were USA’s Perry Baker and New Zealand’s Michaela Blyde.
After 14,000 votes were cast by rugby fans on social media, Joaquin Tuculet’s score for Argentina in the first test against England in June was hailed as the try of the year.
Reporting by Ian Chadband