RUGBY UNION: All Blacks fly half Beauden Barrett has been named World Rugby's Player of the Year for the second straight year, continuing New Zealand's stranglehold on the award which has been won by an All Black every year since 2012.
Barrett beat teammate Rieko Ioane, Australia's Israel Folau and England's Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje to the award which was presented at a glitzy award ceremony in Monaco.
He is the third player after All Blacks Dan Carter and Richie McCaw to win the award more than once. Carter was Player of the Year in 2005, 2012 and 2015 and McCaw won in 2006, 2009 and 2010.
Carter's win in 2012 began New Zealand's run of awards which was continued by Kieran Read in 2013, Brodie Retallick in 2014, Carter after the 2015 World Cup and Barrett last year.
England's Australian-born coach Eddie Jones was named Coach of the Year, New Zealand's Portia Woodman was Women's Player of the Year, the New Zealand women's team which won this year's Women's World Cup was Team of the Year and winger Ioane was named Breakthrough Player of the Year.
New Zealand's Michaela Blyde was named Women's Sevens Player of the Year and Perry Baker of the United States was Men's Sevens Player of the Year.
McCaw and England's Rachael Burford won International Rugby Players' Association Special Merit Awards.
The selection of Barrett for the major award was mildly surprising because his form this season was not seen to have measured up to the standard he set in his breakthrough year, 2016, when he took over from Carter in the All Blacks' No.10 jersey.
"I'm very proud and surprised. I wanted to be better than last year and I still feel I have plenty to go so that's very exciting,” Barrett said.
Jones received the Coach of the Year award after guiding England to the Six Nations title and to an unbeaten record in autumn internationals but was reluctant to accept the honour.
"I feel a bit embarrassed because we're not the No.1 team in the world,” he said.
"(All Blacks coach) Steve Hansen should be up here.”
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