Then came the news today that Schmidt will be stepping down after the 2019 World Cup.
Sexton was an instrumental part of Ireland's success in 2018, steering them to victory over Barrett and the All Blacks last weekend.
Schmidt has masterminded both of Ireland's victories over New Zealand, including Saturday's 16-9 win in Dublin, and guided his team from eighth to second in the world rankings in five years at the helm.
Jessy Tremouliere became the first French victor of the women's player of the year award having helped Les Bleues win the Six Nations Grand Slam.
Ireland thrashed the United States 57-14 in Dublin on Saturday to complete a second-straight autumn series clean sweep, with Schmidt afterwards admitting he is very almost ready to confirm his long-term future plans.
In announcing that he would not continue as Ireland coach beyond 2019, Schmidt said he would "prioritise family commitments".
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt paid credit to his staff and players, and thanked the Irish Rugby Union for their patience while he's agonized over his future plans.
"The management and players have been incredible to work with and the tremendous support we have had, particularly at home at Lansdowne Road, but where ever we have traveled has been uplifting".
When is the 2018 Dubai Rugby Sevens?
Blizzard conditions blast US Midwest
American Airlines issued a statement on Sunday afternoon, warning that more delays and cancellations were likely this evening. Jeff Colyer declared a state of emergency after 2 to 14 inches (5 to 36 centimetres) of snow fell in parts of Kansas.
"I would also like to congratulate Ireland's Johnny Sexton (World Rugby Men's Player of the Year in association with Mastercard) and Joe Schmidt (World Rugby Coach of the Year), as well as the Irish team (World Rugby Team of the Year) for their awards, which were just reward after a magnificent season".
British and Irish Lions five-eighth Sexton is the first northern hemisphere victor of World Rugby's top individual accolade since France's Thierry Dusautoir in 2011.
"Of course, this is not yet the end, and we look forward an exciting and challenging 11 months for Irish Rugby during Joe's final Six Nations and the Rugby World Cup in Japan".
Ireland's Coach, Joe Schmidt has won coach of the year award.
The 43-year-old Englishman, whose son Owen is England's co-captain and first choice fly-half, has been Ireland's gain and his home country's loss. The former dual-code global also helped coach the British & Irish Lions to a series win against Australia in 2013 and a series draw against New Zealand in 2017.
"It is a privilege to be considered for such a prestigious role", he said.
Nucifora said Farrell's appointment provided the essential ingredient of continuity.
The last occasion is thought to be to replace Wayne Smith past year, before re-signing with Ireland.