'Speechless' Sexton humbled by award

Credit @IrishRugby

"We are incredibly fortunate to have a coach of the calibre of Andy Farrell in Irish Rugby". Barrett was attempting to win the award for the third straight year.

"So we've put our heads together and tried to reconcile how we can best, maybe, cater for both".

Joe Schmidt was then named Coach of the Year after leading Ireland to their success.

It says a lot about the value Schmidt places on Sexton, who admits he took the money from the Paris club because he felt taken for granted by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), that he made the effort to go and see him.

Earlier this month, Conor Murray was presented with the "World Player of the Year" award at the Midol "Rugby Oscars" ceremony.

"It was his two tries in Wellington though, when the Boks beat the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time in nine years, that will be remembered the best for his superb debut Test season".

Schmidt has been expected to return home and has been suggested as a possible successor to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, whose own deal runs out after the World Cup.

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander praised Springbok winger Aphiwe Dyantyi for scooping the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year Award in association with Tudor at a glittering function in Monaco on Sunday evening.

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The 33-year-old is just the second Irishman to land the gong, following in the footsteps of former Ireland hooker Keith Wood, in 2001.

"I'm so confident that we have such a great group".

Joe Schmidt is to stand down as Ireland's head coach after the 2019 World Cup and will be replaced by current defence coach Andy Farrell.

Ireland's captain, Rory Best, read out Sexton's speech due to the award victor losing his voice.

We have some of the best coaches in the world and are led superbly by Rory Best. "I look at the other nominees and admire all of them, any of them would be a worthy victor".

Australia's Angus Gardner picked up the Referee Award, with Doddie Weir scooping the Award for Character.

In Schmidt's five years as head coach, Ireland have won three Six Nations Championships - including the Grand Slam this summer - and arguably become the single strongest global side in the northern hemisphere.

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