World Rugby Awards: Ireland's Johnny Sexton and Joe Schmidt named player and coach of the year

Johnny Sexton
Schmidt's Ireland won every game that Sexton has started in 2018

Ireland have capped the greatest year in their rugby history by sweeping the board at the World Rugby awards in Monaco.

Johnny Sexton became the first Irishman to win the men's player of the year award since Keith Wood in 2001.

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt, who is expected to announce on Monday he will be leaving his role after the next World Cup, won coach of the year.

The Six Nations champions were also named team of the year.

France's Jessy Tremouliere picked up the women's player of the year award.

It is the first time in seven years the award has gone to a player from outside of New Zealand.

Fly-half Sexton, 33, fought off competition from All Blacks duo Rieko Ioane and Beauden Barrett, who was looking to collect the award for the third straight time.

South Africans Malcolm Marx and Faf de Klerk were also nominated.

Sexton's remarkable year at club and international level saw him win three major competitions: the Pro14, Champions Cup and the Six Nations.

Ireland only lost once in 2018, with the defeat coming in their first Test against Australia in June, a game for which Sexton was rested following a busy end-of-season schedule with Leinster.

The fly-half returned for the next two Tests and guided Ireland to a first series win in Australia for 39 years.

Johnny Sexton
Sexton's drop goal against France gave Ireland a dramatic win in the opening game of their Grand Slam-winning Six Nations campaign

The Leinster captain also led the way in Ireland's Grand Slam-winning Six Nations campaign, scoring a match winning drop-goal with the last kick of the game against France on the first day of the championship.

"If a number 10 wins an award like this it is due to the team around him," said Sexton

"We have some of the best coaches in the world and are led superbly."

A historic home win over the All Blacks was the highlight of an undefeated autumn international series for Schmidt's side, who have cemented their position as the best team in the northern hemisphere.

'Understandable if Schmidt moves on'

New Zealand native Schmidt, who has been at the helm in Ireland for five years, has been tipped by many to move into a role in the All Blacks coaching set-up.

Former Ireland forward Jamie Heaslip said he would understand if Schmidt wanted to leave.

"On the one hand I think it's really, really important and amazing if Joe stays, but on the other hand we talk about evolving and it's a really interesting argument," he told 5live's Friday Sports Panel.

"He's done really, really well but do they need to evolve? Do they need another fresh set of ideas?

"My heart says no, I'd love it if Joe stays but you can understand from his own growth and perspective if he wants to move on."

Full-back Tremouliere scored five tries in France's Grand Slam-winning Six Nations campaign.

She was one of four French players to be nominated for the women's award alongside New Zealand skipper Fiao'o Fa'amausili.