Rugby-England’s Packer named World Rugby women’s player of the year

(Reuters) – England captain Marlie Packer was named World Rugby women’s 15s Player of the Year, moments after they beat New Zealand in the final of the inaugural WXV 1 competition in Auckland on Saturday.

Packer has been a force to reckon with in the back row and she was the leading try-scorer in women’s test rugby this year with 11.

The 34-year-old led England to their fifth straight women’s Six Nations title earlier this year with a Grand Slam while she was also one of the highest try scorers at the World Cup late last year when they finished runners-up.

“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,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said.

“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.”

New Zealand Katelyn Vahaakolo was crowned the women’s Breakthrough Player of the Year after she made the switch from rugby league to rugby union last year.

Her compatriot Tyla Nathan-Wong received the women’s Sevens Player of the Year award while Italy’s Sofia Stefan earned the Try of the Year which was decided by a fan vote on social media.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Pritha Sarkar)