World Rugby Coach of the Year: Simon Middleton becomes first women's team coach to win

England's Simon Middleton has become the first women's team coach to be named World Rugby Coach of the Year

England’s Simon Middleton has become the first women’s team coach to be named World Rugby Coach of the Year.

Middleton made history by winning the award over the All Blacks’ Ian Foster, Australia men’s Dave Rennie, and New Zealand women’s sevens coaches Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney.

The 55-year-old has guided the Red Roses through a second successive calendar year unbeaten.

England have won 18 tests in a row, including back-to-back record victories over world champions New Zealand last month.

Middleton’s side, who earned this year’s Women’s Six Nations title, scored 57 tries and conceded just 10 in 2021.

They are the current world number one and favourites to triumph at next year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Middleton was a rugby league player at Castleford, before he crossed codes and played rugby union for Leeds Tykes. He became a coach at the club at the end of his playing career.

He joined the England set-up in 2014 and was an assistant coach during the Red Roses’ winning World Cup campaign that year.

After becoming the head coach of the side in 2015, Middleton also led the British women’s sevens team to a fourth-place finish at Rio 2016.

“Congratulations to Simon Middleton,” former England rugby star Maggie Alphonsi wrote on Twitter. “What an achievement!

“I know he will want to add Rugby World Cup winning head coach to the list too. Fingers crossed, next year he will do it”.

World Rugby Award winners are being announced this week, following an online public vote last month.

New Zealand wing Will Jordan was named Breakthrough Player of the Year today, after scoring 15 tries in 11 tests.

He beat off competition from Wales star Louis Rees-Zammit, England fly-half Marcus Smith and Australia’s Andrew Kellaway.

Damian Penaud and Emilie Boulard, both of France, were the recipients of the respective men and women’s Try of the Year accolades.

Australia’s Andrew Cole was named World Rugby Referee Award.

A number of awards are yet to be announced, including women’s sevens Player of the Year and women’s 15s Player of the Year. A women’s 15s Dream Team of the Year will also be named.

News Now - Sport News