RWC 2015 Awards

Date published: November 3 2015

World Rugby held their own awards ceremony on Sunday but it's now time for Planet Rugby's take on who is taking home the top prizes (not you England).

Here are ten serious awards celebrating the best of the 2015 World Cup – look out for our 'Alternative Awards' later on in the week.

2015 Rugby World Cup Awards

Best Team: New Zealand
Runner-up: Japan

How can it go to anyone else? Going down to 14 in the final put the All Blacks in trouble but otherwise they were a class apart on the big stage. The second Steve Hansen's group got into the knockout stages they were the dominant force in the competition. Edging past South Africa showed character, obliterating France was all class. History made too – the first nation to win three World Cups and back-to-back titles.

Best Coach: Eddie Jones (Japan)

Runner-up: Michael Cheika (Australia)

Some background here – Steve Hansen's class as a coach of the best group of players in the world is set in stone. Daniel Hourcade on the other hand is leaving his mark on Argentina through the way they now attack. Michael Cheika in just over a year has made the Wallabies a fearsome prospect again. But Jones, ably assisted by Steve Borthwick and Marc dal Maso, has blown us all away. No one expected Japan to finish with three wins. For getting the absolute most out of a group of polished gems, Jones deserves huge acclaim.

Best Player: David Pocock (Australia)

Runner-up: Daniel Carter (New Zealand)

We're happy enough to see Carter take the game's top gong for this year, but what about Pocock? What about his brilliance at the breakdown? His incredible recovery from consecutive ACL surgeries to produce the best rugby of his career? What he offers in terms of leadership, aggression, passion for the sport? It's almost hilarious how many turnovers he made – 17 –  four more than the next best player at this World Cup. Some player.

Best Game: QF4 – Australia v Scotland

Runner-up: Japan v South Africa

Ok, so Japan's win over the Springboks in Brighton was a cracker as well, but we'll get to that later. Instead we've gone for the final quarter-final between the Wallabies and Scotland. Vern Cotter's men were the biggest outsiders in the last eight according to the bookies, but ended up leading heading into the last five minutes thanks to Mark Bennett's interception try. An eight-try thriller ended up being decided by a late penalty from Bernard Foley. Last we heard, Craig Joubert is still running.

Best Moment: Karne Hesketh's winning try for Japan
Runner-up: Sonny Bill Williams gives his medal to a fan

This might be the greatest moment in World Cup history, let alone in 2015. Late re-writes aren't uncommon, far from it, but it took until about two minutes before the final whistle for yours truly to finally believe that Japan could actually win. Saturday's game in Brighton was meant to be a quiet affair after the lights of the opening night at Twickenham – instead we got pandemonium. Japan executed brilliantly, lead from the front by Michael Leitch and kept in the hunt by the boot of Ayumu Goromaru, until Hesketh finished in the corner to spark the most incredible scenes I've ever witnessed with fans everywhere in tears. The sense that something special had happened was only furthered by the guard of honour made by Springbok supporters for Japanese fans at Brighton station. You can't buy that level of emotion. It was an honour to be there.

Best Stadium: Wembley Stadium, London
Runner-up: Kingsholm, Gloucester

So many contenders here. It was special to see rugby played out at the great theatre that is St James' Park, while the smaller grounds across the nation all delivered. But watching Ireland take on Romania in front of a record attendance of close to 90,000 people at Wembley made you realise just how well attended this World Cup was going to be. A world class venue in every aspect. 
Best Fans: Argentina
Runner-up: Ireland

Not easy to call as the number of travelling support was unbelievable, and Ireland's faithful were deafening for their win over France to round off the group stages. But the blue and white army featuring cameos from Diego Maradona take this one. Even in the lifeless contest that was last Friday's Bronze final, they rose to the occasion in the closing stages. Incredible noise everywhere they went.

Breakthrough Player: Santiago Cordero (Argentina)
Runner-up: Nehe Milner-Skudder (New Zealand)

Two 14s that have dazzled throughout the tournament – Milner-Skudder's rise from ITM Cup rugby to scoring in the World Cup final has been insane. But for a 21-year-old like Cordero to show no fear in his first World Cup, ensuring Argentina have a major threat for the next decade at least, is an exciting prospect. Cordero's combination with Joaquín Tuculet and Juan Imhoff was a treat and we can't wait to watch him tear defences to shreds in Super Rugby.

Unsung hero: Jerome Kaino (New Zealand)
Runner-up: Scott Fardy (Australia)

This looked set to be Fardy's prize until the big-bearded Brumby finally got the international attention he deserves (four years ago he was watching the World Cup in Japan after helping locals battle a Tsunami). But what about Jerome Kaino? The physicality he brings to the All Blacks back row doesn't get enough praise, because Kaino is a bruise-maker. And now also a double World Cup winner. Living in the shadow of Richie McCaw and Kieran Read, he's never stopped working.

Best referee: Jérôme Garcès
Runner-up: Nigel Owens

A controversial call maybe, but based solely on this World Cup, we felt Garcès was the tournament's stand-out referee. It's no coincidence that he was in charge of Japan's win over South Africa and Wales' success against England. More than any other referee he wasn't afraid to make the big decisions rather than taking the safe option and favouring the bigger sides. Nigel Owens was rewarded with the final for his efforts in recent seasons and provided some more memorable one-liners.