Johnny Sexton was crowned the World Rugby Player of the Year, Joe Schmidt the Coach of the Year and Ireland the Team of the Year in an unprecedented treble for Irish rugby.

Schmidt led Ireland through a superb 2018 which saw them win a Grand Slam, claim a series win in Australia and beat the All Blacks on Irish soil for the time ever. 

And outhalf Sexton was key to all of those successes, a mainstay in an amazing twelve months that's seen Ireland emerge as one of the early favourites for next year's World Cup in japan. 

He is the first Irishman since Keith Wood, in 2001, to win the gong, doing so ahead of New Zealand's Beauden Barrett and Rieko Ioane, and South African pair Faf de Klerk and Malcolm Marx.

Sexton took to the stage alongside Rory Best, who read his team-mate's speech out for him.

"Johnny lost his voice this evening. I'm not sure you'll understand," said Best, before Sexton croaked: "I literally can't speak properly!"

Best then read a written acceptance speech: "Apologies, I've a throat infection and laryngitis. If a Number 10 wins an award like this it's due to the team around him. Thank you so much, it's an incredible honour."

Sexton's stunning drop-goal on the 41st phase of the final play secured Ireland a 15-13 win over France in Paris, as Schmidt's men set the ball rolling on just their third-ever Grand Slam.

The lynchpin playmaker also guided Leinster to the Pro14-Champions Cup double, before starring when Ireland toppled back-to-back world champions New Zealand 16-9 in Dublin earlier this month.

The night could have been even sweeter - South Africa's Aphiwe Dyantyi pipped Jordan Larmour to the Breakthrough Player of the Year award.

France's Jessy Tremouliere is World Rugby Women's 15s Player of the Year, with New Zealand's Michaela Blyde winning  the Women's Sevens award.