Bennett nominated for prestigious World Rugby Award

Scotland centre Mark Bennett has been named as one of three nominees for the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year Award 2015.

The independent selection panel, which included 139-times Australia cap George Gregan and former Argentinian centre Felipe Contepomi, nominated Bennett for the prestigious award alongside New Zealand’s Nehe Milner-Skudder and Georgia’s  Vasil Lobzhanidze. 

World Rugby’s grounds for recognition were: “A player who has burst on to the rugby scene showing tremendous skill throughout the year and has played no more than one year of international rugby.”

On receiving the news of the nomination, Bennett said: “I was absolutely over the moon when I realised I was up for the award. It’s fair to say I was completely surprised, too.

“I haven’t played much rugby this season, and the international stage has been a big step up, but I’ve loved every second of it.”

The Glasgow Warriors centre, a product of Cumnock, made his international debut in Scotland’s 41-31 viagogo Autumn Test win over Argentina at BT Murrayfield in November 2014.

He went on to make his mark in the RBS 6 Nations, donning the starting 13 shirt in all five games and scoring two tries in the tournament against Italy and England respectively. 

Bennett continued to exhibit his finishing prowess in Rugby World Cup 2015, and crossed the line to score two fine scores in Scotland’s emphatic 45-10 victory over Japan in the opening Test of the flagship tournament.

He scored his sixth international try in the World Cup quarter-final against Australia, when he intercepted a James Slipper pass to touchdown and equalise for Scotland in the 73rd minute of play. 

Reflecting on the experience of playing at the flagship tournament, he said: “It’s surreal that as a child I sat and watched the Rugby World Cup and now I’m one of the guys kids watch. 

“We felt that we did so well as a team, and were unfortunate not to progress further in the competition. 

“The support was unreal; there was a great Scottish contingent at every match throughout, and especially at the final game against Australia – it felt like the who of Twickenham was behind us.”

The award winner will be announced at the World Rugby Awards dinner in London on Sunday 1 November. 

Mark Bennett: 

Position: Centre

Caps: 13

Points: 30

Tries: 6

Club: Glasgow Warriors

Club of Origin: Cumnock