England captain Packer named women's world rugby player of the year

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — England captain Marlie Packer was named the women's world rugby player of the year on Saturday, moments after leading her team to the inaugural WXV 1 title.

The openside flanker was the leading try-scorer in women's test rugby this year with 11, and a force on defense.

Packer captained England to a perfect year, 10 wins out of 10 tests, including a Six Nations Grand Slam.

In the WXV, the team thrashed Canada and Australia, and gave New Zealand its heaviest defeat at home by 33-12 at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday. That was the first match between them since the 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup final, where the Black Ferns prevailed 34-31.

Packer was nominated for player of the year for the first time beside teammate Abby Dow, New Zealand flyhalf Ruahei Demant, the 2022 winner, and France center Gabrielle Vernier.

New Zealand outside back Katelyn Vaha'akolo, who scored a try against England off the bench, was named breakthrough player of the year. She switched from rugby league last year.

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AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby