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Dublin: 9°C Sunday 25 October 2020
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Sexton's brilliance earns him Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year award

The Ireland and Leinster out-half was recognised at this evening’s awards dinner in Dublin.

JOHNNY SEXTON’S OUTSTANDING displays in guiding both Ireland and Leinster to dream seasons have earned him the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland (RWI) Player of the Year award.

The out-half played an integral role in what has been a truly historic year for Irish rugby, helping Joe Schmidt’s side to a Grand Slam title, first series win in Australia since 1979 and last Saturday’s famous victory over the All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium. 

Johnny Sexton Sexton was honoured in Dublin this evening. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

For Leinster, Sexton was equally influential as the eastern province claimed a fourth Champions Cup crown before adding the Guinness Pro14 title to make it a historic double-winning campaign.

The 33-year-old’s consistently excellent performances in the number 10 jersey for both club and country were recognised with the accolade at this evening’s awards dinner in Dublin. 

Sexton has delivered big moments throughout the year, none more so than that last-gasp drop-goal in Paris while his role as Ireland co-captain and now Leinster skipper is vital.

“It’s a very prestigious award to win in Ireland,” he said. “You look at the list of players that have won it before, it’s very pleasing that your efforts can be acknowledged.

“It could have gone to many, many players with the season we had in this country, I can think of six or seven lads just off the top of my head, so I’m very happy to have been chosen.”

Sexton has also been nominated for the World Rugby Player of the Year award alongside All Blacks pair Beauden Barrett and Rieko Ioane and Springboks Faf de Klerk and Malcolm Marx.

The winner will be announced in Monaco on Sunday, with Sexton bidding to become the first Irish player to land the prestigious award since Keith Wood in 2001.

Meanwhile, Claire Molloy was named the RWI Women’s Player of the Year for the second successive year after guiding Ireland to Six Nations wins over Italy and Wales in 2018.

The flanker is currently playing for English Premiership side Wasps, and has been named to start in Saturday’s November international against England at Twickenham.

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“I’m truly honoured to receive the award for the second year in a row,” she said.

“I’m very lucky to have great coaches and team-mates that have helped my game develop over my career. It was a year of mixed results for the Irish team, in the Six Nations we had some great results at home, but we didn’t quite get the results we wanted on the road. We’re looking forward to another big test next weekend in Twickenham.”

Claire Molloy Claire Molloy won the women's player of the year award. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Leinster’s incredible season was marked with the Club of the Year award, while The Tom Rooney Award for contributions to rugby was awarded to Lansdowne FC, who won every competition they entered at senior level during the 2017/18 season.

Under the guidance of Mike Ruddock, Lansdowne won the All-Ireland League, All-Ireland Cup, Leinster Senior League and Leinster Senior Cup.

Two former players were inducted into the Guinness Rugby Writers Hall of Fame on the night. 

Gerry ‘Ginger’ McLoughlin — a former Irish international who famously scored a try at Twickenham in 1982 carrying half the English pack over the line — was recognised along with John O’Driscoll, who was capped 26 times by Ireland and toured South Africa and New Zealand with the Lions in 1980 and 1983. 

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Ryan Bailey

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