"Two Irish players are best in the world" - Rugby reacts to big Josh van der Flier and Terry Kennedy awards
"That, to me, is just nuts."
Sunday night in Monaco saw four Ireland stars make it into the World Rugby 'Dream Team of the Year' and big awards go to a Dubliner and a Wicklow man. Josh van der Flier was named World Rugby Player of the Year, while Terry Kennedy won Men's Sevens Player of the Year.
With Ireland finishing third in the Sevens World Cup and, in the 15s game, winning a Triple Crown, beating the All Blacks in New Zealand and finishing as World No.1, there was always a chance that a clutch of their players would be contesting the main accolades.
As it all played out, Kennedy and van der Flier were two of the big winners, on the night, while the Leinster and Ireland flanker was joined by Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne and Johnny Sexton in the 'Dream Team'.
On the latest House of Rugby [LISTEN from 29:15 below], Jamie Heaslip, Greg O'Shea, Lindsay Peat and Jason Hennessy all gave their take on the Irish winners at the World Rugby awards.
Terry Kennedy and Josh van der Flier top of the world
"We have two Irish lads who are the best rugby players in the world," said Greg O'Shea. "That, to me, is just nuts."
Lindsay Peat touched on the fact that Josh van der Flier, back in early 2021, was battling Will Connors for a starting spot in the Irish back row, and having to content himself with a couple of stints on the replacements' bench.
"Now, he's World Player of the Year and has won every award going - Players' Player of the Year, Rugby Writers and European Player of the Year - and, do you know what, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. He's so grounded. The first think he did was thank his teammates, family and friends, and his lovely wife Sophie.
"He'd always give you the time of day, and the shirt off his own back. Josh, on every level, you deserve it, man."
Jamie Heaslip, who was nominated for the award in the past, noted how van der Flier was meticulous in his training, analysis and preparation, and how the massive accolade is a tangible reward for such dedication.
On Terry Kennedy, who captured the top Men's Sevens award, Greg O'Shea noted that the former Leinster academy prospect, who has starred on the HSBC World Series, was off to Australia soon for a work opportunity.
"I know, for a fact, that Terry would jump at the chance of even a training contract with one of the provinces," he stated.
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