Pic & Texts: World Rugby
World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Perry Baker (USA)
The oldest of the nominees at 32 and the 2017 recipient of this prestigious award, Perry Baker was at his scintillating best in Las Vegas in March, scoring eight tries – six of them in the knockout stages – as USA tasted success on home soil for the first time. The Eagles flyer has always had electric pace and the ability to create something out of nothing, but now has the all-round game to go with his natural speed to make him even more of a lethal finisher. The crowd favourite scored 37 tries in seven events on the 2018 series, missing the finale in Europe due to injury before returning to help USA to sixth place at RWC Sevens in San Francisco.
Nominees: Ben O’Donnell (Australia), Jerry Tuwai (Fiji)
World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Michaela Blyde (New Zealand)
The youngest nominee at only 22, Michaela Blyde becomes the first to win the award twice – let alone two years in succession – after another impressive season with the Black Ferns Sevens that saw her named in the HSBC Dream Teams for both the series and RWC Sevens. The DHL Impact Player of the Series for a second time in 2018, Blyde scored 37 tries across the five rounds – second only to team-mate Portia Woodman – as New Zealand finished as runners-up after winning the Kitakyushu, Langford and Paris rounds. Blyde, blessed with electric pace and quick feet, scored another nine tries to help New Zealand claim back-to-back RWC Sevens titles in San Francisco, including a hat-trick in the final against France. The season also saw her win an historic gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Nominees: Sarah Goss (New Zealand), Portia Woodman (New Zealand)
IRP Special Merit Award –DJ Forbes (New Zealand)
DJ Forbes amassed a record 89 tournaments and 512 matches in his 11 years on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for New Zealand, scoring 153 tries and winning 26 tournaments, six series titles and Commonwealth Games and RWC Sevens gold. The 35-year-old former All Blacks Sevens captain was not only a leader on the field, though, having been a valuable conduit and voice for players throughout his career and a strong advocate for the development of women’s sevens, improved player welfare standards, player well-being and Olympic inclusion. Forbes’ desire to see players thrive has seen him work with the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association and International Rugby Players on athlete well-being and development programmes.