Vahaakolo debuted this year for the Black Ferns and has played five test matches to date with the winger scoring five tries, including tonight's try against England. She has edged out Carla Arbez (France), Francesca McGhie (Scotland) and team mate Mererangi Paul for the award.
Meanwhile six Black Ferns, loosehead prop Krystal Murray, lock Maiakawanakaulani Roos, loose forward Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, first-five Ruahei Demant, midfielder Amy du Plessis and winger Ruby Tui were named in the World Rugby Women’s 15s Dream Team of the Year in partnership with Capgemini.
New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson said:
“Congratulations to the nominees and winners. To have four Black Ferns nominated for three awards is testament to their dedication, passion, and immense skill on and off the rugby field. We are incredibly proud of them and to see Katelyn acknowledged for her efforts is a special way to end the year for women’s rugby.”
Two of the awards and the World Rugby Women’s 15s Dream Team were selected by the esteemed World Rugby Awards panel, while the International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year was decided by a fan vote on social media.
WORLD RUGBY AWARDS 2023 WINNERS
World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year in partnership with Mastercard - Marlie Packer (England)
England captain Marlie Packer is a relentless force in the back row, leading by example with her tough defence but equally adept in attack and is the leading try-scorer in women’s test rugby this year with 11.
Nominees: Marlie Packer (England), Gabrielle Vernier (France), Abby Dow (England), Ruahei Demant (New Zealand)
World Rugby Women’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year in partnership with Tudor - Katelyn Vahaakolo (New Zealand)
Katelyn Vahaakolo made her Black Ferns debut alongside fellow nominee Mererangi Paul and has been a constant threat with her pace and footwork, scoring five tries so far in her international career.
Nominees: Mererangi Paul (New Zealand), Carla Arbez (France), Francesca McGhie (Scotland)
International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year - Sofia Stefan (Italy)
Sofia Stefan has won the fan vote for best try of the year for her performance against Ireland back on 15 April. With a flowing move from an Italian scrum inside the Ireland half, the backs worked it wide before finding Beatrice Ronfi inside, the centre falling just short after a desperate tap-tackle but alert to offload to Sofia Stefan in support.
Nominees: Zoe Aldcroft (England v France), Charlotte Escudero (France v Wales), Mererangi Paul (New Zealand v Canada), Sofia Stefan (Italy v Ireland)
World Rugby Women’s 15s Dream Team of the Year in partnership with Capgemini
1. Krystal Murray (NZL), 2. Lark Atkin-Davies (ENG), 3. Sarah Bern (ENG), 4. Zoe Aldcroft (ENG), 5. Maiakawanakaulani Roos (NZL), 6. Alex Matthews (ENG), 7. Marlie Packer (ENG), 8. Liana Mikaele-Tu’u (NZL), 9. Pauline Bourdon Sansus (FRA), 10. Ruahei Demant (NZL), 11. Abby Dow (ENG), 12. Gabrielle Vernier (FRA), 13. Amy du Plessis (NZL), 14. Ruby Tui (NZL), 15. Ellie Kildunne (ENG)
For more details on the World Rugby Awards, visit www.world.rugby/awards