World Rugby

The Best Play From Each Of The Four World Player Of The Year Nominees

The Best Play From Each Of The Four World Player Of The Year Nominees

The Best Play From Each Of The Four 2002 World Player Of The Year Nominees ahead of the final awards ceremony. Dupont, Sexton, Am, van der Flier highlights.

Nov 16, 2022
The Best Play From Each Of The Four World Player Of The Year Nominees

In the ultimate team game, the opportunity for individual awards is limited and often not considered the pinnacle.

That is of course outside of the prestigious World Player Of The Year award which recognises which player has stood head and shoulders above the rest.

This year’s list of awards is very much a reflection of the just how the international game played out. Firmly cemented in first and second on the World rankings, Ireland and France dominate the list for the northern hemisphere whilst South Africa has the sole southern hemisphere representative.

All four players have had sensational seasons with several highlights, so let’s dive into it and look at the very best play from all four nominees.

Lukhanyo Am

Springbok star Lukhanyo Am has rightly been regarded as one of the very best centres in the game since lifting  the 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

A visionary in attack as he is often times being the key to unlocking the lethal Springbok back three, Am has been sorely missed by the Boks since picking up an injury.

Defensively there are few better in the game with the centre playing a key role in the Bok’s blitz defence as he often times shoots out of the line to cut off opposition ball.

With the Boks seemingly set in their ways in terms of focusing on a forward dominant game, Am’s combination with the hard carrying Damian De Allende is a match made in heaven. De Allende will be used to make the hard yards whilst Am will look to bring in that sprinkle of magic that could prove to be crucial at the business end of the World Cup.

Antoine Dupont

The reigning World Player Of The Year has shown no signs of slowing down which is a rather frightening prospect for the rest of the Rugby World.

Still just twenty-six-years-old, Dupont has yet to hit his prime years and will certainly play a major role for France in their pursuit of World Cup glory on home soil next year.

Whether it is for Toulouse or France, the scrumhalf has the ability to singlehandedly take over a game in a manner unlike any other player in the game.

Despite his relatively diminutive figure by rugby standards, he punches way above his weight often times smashing much larger opponents into oblivion.

Winning back-to-back World Player of the Year awards would elevate Dupont to a level unmatched by any player not named Daniel Carter. Perhaps the most apt comparisons for Dupont’s level of dominance would the Kansas City Chief’s Patrick Mahomes or peak Lionel Messi. Yes he is that good.

Jonathan Sexton

If Dupont is Mahomes then Sexton is Brady. Aging like a fine wine, Sexton is playing his best rugby aged thirty-seven which is simply remarkable for a number of reasons.

Take for example his position, Sexton has regularly been the subject of opposition targeting both legal and illegal, yet he has continued to produce at an elite level. No shrinking violet at 6’2”and 94kg, the flyhalf has been known to throw his weight around in both attack and defence. It would be fair to say that no flyhalf in the past decade has been able to match Sexton’s ability to take the ball to the line before passing at the last second all the while knowing he is putting his body in harms way. This devil-may-care attitude has at times been to his detriment but has been a key component to Ireland’s success.

Having already won the World Player Of The Year Award in 2018, winning the game’s top individual honour for a second time would be just rewards for the Irish captain.

Josh van der Flier

A steady build would be the best way to describe the backrow’s career to date. Consistently delivering for both Ireland and Leinster, van der Flier has often been doubted. Who knows if it had not been for Dan Leavy’s devastating injury enforced retirement van der Flier could still be battling his Leinster colleague for a place in the Irish team? 

Levy’s retirement aside, van der Flier has been simply sensational over the past two seasons and has certainly deserved all of the plaudits he has received.

Continually developing his game, van der Flier has gone from an out-and-out breakdown specialist to an all-round backrow capable of breaking open a game with his strong ability to break through tackles and linking play between forwards and backs. Not the heaviest of forwards, van der Flier uses exceptional footwork and skill to make yards whilst using his explosive power to get over the line for a significant amount of close range tries.

As the only forward nominated this year, van der Flier’s presence on this list is a testament to just how dominant he has been. Whilst arguments can be made that South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth and New Zealand’s Ardie Savea are unfortunate not to have made the cut, the Leinster star has firmly cemented himself as one of the very best forwards in the game.

Written by Philip Bendon