Marlie Packer has been crowned World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year after leading England to an unbeaten 2023.
A year on from their defeat in the World Cup final, the Red Roses have responded by winning the Grand Slam in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations, followed by victory in the inaugural WXV 1 competition.
And Packer, a standout performer all year in the back row, has been rewarded for her efforts by being named Player of the Year, edging out a pair of TikTok Women’s Six Nations stars, teammate Abby Dow and France centre Gabrielle Vernier, along with New Zealand fly-half Ruahei Demant.
It is just reward for a sensational 12 months for the flanker or No.8, but Packer was quick to shift the praise for her award onto her teammates.
She said: “I’m completely on a high at the moment and I’m so proud of this squad, both players and staff.
“We spoke about this journey 11 weeks ago in Chester, and we’ve grown over the tournament.
“Me getting World Player of the Year is credit to the players around me. I can’t do my job without them. I’m on cloud nine and the other girls should be too.”
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) November 4, 2023
England had already beaten Australia and Canada, and completely their unbeaten run by seeing off the Black Ferns 33-12 in a rematch of last year’s World Cup final.
That made it ten wins from ten in 2023, the latter coming under Louis Deacon, who has been serving as interim coach ahead of the arrival of John Mitchell as Simon Middleton’s full-time successor.
Unsurprisingly, a host of Packer’s teammates made the cut in World Rugby’s Women’s 15s Dream Team, with fellow forwards Alex Matthews, Lark Atkin-Davies, Sarah Bern and Zoe Aldcroft all included – and all on the scoresheet against the Black Ferns.
Backs Ellie Kildunne and Abby Dow also made the cut, as did French duo Vernier and Pauline Bourdon Sansus.