Barrett, All Blacks win major awards


Beauden Barrett was named World Rugby Player of the Year as New Zealand were crowned 2016's best team after their record-breaking exploits.

The reigning world champions made history by becoming the first team to record 18 consecutive tier-one Test victories, including winning the 2016 Rugby Championship with a 100 per cent record and whitewashing Australia in the Bledisloe Cup.

Barrett, 25, was instrumental in the All Blacks' success and was named the Men's Player of the Year.

The playmaker's season also included leading Hurricanes to their first Super Rugby title.

The All Blacks' extraordinary winning sequence finally came to an end in a surprise 40-29 loss to Ireland in Chicago this month, but they deservedly retained the Team of the Year title they earned in 2015, while Steve Hansen, mastermind of the success, was named Coach of the Year.

Maro Itoje was selected ahead of All Blacks duo Anton Lienert-Brown and Ardie Savea as the winner of the Breakthrough Player of the Year prize.

The 22-year-old Saracens lock played a starring role as England won a Six Nations Grand Slam before winning 3-0 in Australia and was also hugely influential in his club's surge to Premiership and European Champions Cup glory.

"It's great to be recognised in this way, but I know that without my team-mates, coaches and back-room staff I wouldn't be here tonight," said Itoje, who is currently sidelined with a fractured hand.

"I'm very fortunate to be part of two extremely well-coached, motivated squads where everyone wants to improve, so this award is as much theirs as it is mine."