Marcus Smith, Maro Itoje, Poppy Cleall: England dominate World Rugby Awards shortlists

England Rugby

England duo Poppy Cleall and Zoe Aldcroft have been shortlisted for the World Rugby Women’s 15’s Player of the Year award.

Cleall and Aldcroft have helped the Red Roses stretch their winning run to 17 consecutive wins, including back-to-back victories over world champions New Zealand recently.

England are the number one ranked women’s side in the world currently and look well set ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Saracens flanker Cleall won the Six Nations Player of the Year award earlier in 2021 as England retained their title.

The 29-year-old was also named England’s Player of the Year and is the all-time leading scorer in the Women’s Premiership.

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Aldcroft made her England debut back in 2016 but established herself as one of the world’s best in 2020 when she was named the Red Roses’ Player of the Year.

In April 2021, she was named Player of the Match in England’s Six Nations victory over France.

The pair are two of four players nominated for this year’s award, alongside French stars Caroline Boujard and Laure Sansus.

England winger Abby Dow has also been nominated for the Women’s Try of the Year for her effort against France in the Six Nations, while Red Roses head coach Simon Middleton is shortlisted for the Coach of the Year.

Elsewhere, England’s men’s team also have representation in multiple categories.

Lock Maro Itoje has been nominated for the Men’s 15s Player of the Year award, alongside French scrum-half Antoine Dupont, Australian captain Michael Hooper and Aussie centre, Samu Kerevi.

Fly-half Marcus Smith is shortlisted in the Breakthrough Player of the Year category, as well as New Zealand winge, Will Jordan, Australia’s Andrew Kellaway and Welsh flyer Louis Rees-Zammit.

Smith has emerged as one of the most exciting prospects in the game –– leading Harlequins to the Premiership title this year and earning a call up to the British and Irish Lions Tour of South Africa.

The 22-year-old started for Eddie Jones’ side in their win against Australia at Twickenham last weekend and is line to play again versus the Springboks this Saturday.

Kick-off is at 15:15 and the match can be watched live on Amazon Prime Video

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