Johnny Sexton crowned World Player of the Year at World Rugby Awards

Farrell to replace Schmidt as Ireland coach after World Cup

Schmidt guided Ireland to back-to-back clean sweeps in November, including a victory over world champions the All Blacks, and guided Ireland to a first series victory against the Wallabies in Australia in almost forty years, as well as winning a Six Nations Grand Slam.

Sexton is the first non-New Zealand victor since Frenchman Thierry Dusautoir in 2011 and the second Irishman after Keith Wood, who won the inaugural edition in 2001.

The Six Nations champions were also named team of the year.

Jessy Tremouliere became the first French victor of the women's Player of the Year award having helped Les Bleues win the Six Nations Grand Slam.

New Zealand fly-half Beauden Barrett, who was also nominated, won the Player of the Year award in 2017 and 2016.

Joe Schmidt is set to leave his role as Ireland Head Coach after the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year, Off the Ball understands.

Sexton's remarkable year at club and global level saw him win three major competitions, the Pro14, Champions Cup and the Six Nations.

Sexton lost his voice so Ireland team-mate Rory Best had to read out his acceptance speech, saying: "If a No 10 wins an award like this, it is due to the team around him and his coaches making his job easier".

Zverev beats Djokovic to win ATP Finals title
I mean, my year-end ranking is the best. "I was a little bit sad at the end with the booing and reaction of the crowd", he said. Today wasn't a great day for us but if we put things into perspective it was an wonderful year, an incredible comeback'.

In all they won 11 of their 12 games in 2018 with the only setback coming in the first of the three-match series in Australia. We have some of the best coaches in the world and we are led superbly by Rory and Pete O'Mahony.

Johnny Sexton, pictured after the 2018 series win over Australia, was literally speechless after winning World Rugby's player of the year award.

A historic home win over the All Blacks was the highlight of an undefeated autumn global series for Schmidt's side, who have cemented their position as the best team in the northern hemisphere.

The Kiwi has masterminded both of Ireland's victories over New Zealand, including Saturday's 16-9 win in Dublin, and guided his team from eighth to second in the world rankings in five years at the helm.

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

"My heart says no, I'd love it if Joe stays but you can understand from his own growth and perspective if he wants to move on".

Michaela Blyde of New Zealand is the World Rugby Women's Player of the Year.

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