England captain Zoe Aldcroft has been named World Rugby Women's Player of the Year, the governing body announced on Friday, after playing a crucial role in helping the Red Roses to a spectacular 18 consecutive Test wins.
Aldcroft is the fourth English player to win the award after Michaela Staniford in 2012, Sarah Hunter in 2016 and Emily Scarratt in 2019.
The honour comes days after England head coach Simon Middleton became the first coach of a women's team to win World Rugby Coach of the Year.
"I am absolutely shocked and made up to be named World Rugby Women's 15s Player of the Year 2021. It was an honour to be nominated in the first instance and I'm absolutely over the moon," Aldcroft said.
"Having seen the likes of Emily Scarratt and Sarah Hunter, who I have the privilege of playing with, win this award in recent years and to follow in their footsteps is an amazing feeling.
"Any individual awards are a reflection of a team effort and I'd like to dedicate this to all of the teammates, coaching and management staff that I work with for club and country. Their support is invaluable and I can't thank them enough for everything they do.
"From an England perspective, we're looking forward to the Six Nations and then the World Cup in New Zealand later in 2022 -- we're heading into a huge year for the women's game."
France's Caroline Boujard and Laure Sansus, as well as England's Poppy Cleall were also nominated for the award.
England are the top-ranked women's team after claiming their third successive Six Nations title in April, finishing the year with an unbeaten record. A total of five Red Roses (Aldcroft, Abbie Ward, Poppy Cleall, Abby Dow, Sarah Bern) were included the women's Team of the Year.
WOMEN'S WORLD TEAM OF THE YEAR:
Annaelle Deshayes (France), Agathe Sochat (France), Sarah Bern (England), Safi N'Diaye (France), Abbie Ward (England), Zoe Aldcroft (England), Karen Paquin (Canada), Poppy Cleall (England), Laure Sansus (France), Caroline Drouin (France), Abby Dow (England), Beatrice Rigoni (Italy), Stacey Fluhler (New Zealand), Caroline Boujard (France), Jasmine Joyce (Wales).