Barrett named world’s best

All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett has been voted the 2016 World Rugby Player of the Year.

Barrett, who led New Zealand’s attack as they marched to the Rugby Championship title and a tier-one 18-Test winning streak, scooped up the award for the first time in his career.

The 25-year-old trumped teammate Dane Coles, England and Saracens trio Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola, as well as Ireland loose forward Jamie Heaslip.

Itoje claimed the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year award and Heaslip the Try of the Year accolade for his effort against Italy in the Six Nations.

The All Blacks were voted World Rugby Team of the Year for the 10th time, while Steve Hansen received the World Rugby Coach of the Year award.  

In the sevens division, Blitzbok Seabelo Senatla was named World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year.

South Africa's Rasta Rasivhenge and Spain's Alhambra Nievas were named joint winners in the Referee of the Year category. Former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers scooped the International Rugby Players' Association Special Merit award. 

All awards were selected by an independent panel of judges, chaired by Australia's 1999 World Cup-winning captain John Eales and comprising former players Will Greenwood, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Chris Paterson, Agustín Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Paul Wallace as well as journalists Pierre Galy (AFP), Stephen Jones (The Sunday Times), Jim Kayes (TV3) and Sergio Stuart (Ole, Argentina).

They deliberated on every major Test played in 2016 from the Six Nations through to those on 5 November.

Photo: Getty Images

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Mariette Adams