Auckland - All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock was the big winner at the New Zealand Rugby Awards as he was named the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year for 2017.
Whitelock capped a fine year as he was also crowned Super Rugby Player of the Year after leading the Crusaders to victory in that competition earlier this year.
The Black Ferns were named Team of the Year for the first time ever, topping off a night of successes for the world champions and women’s rugby at the awards function in Auckland on Thursday.
The five-time world champions were named Team of the Year, adding to the World Rugby Team of the Year title they secured in Monaco at the World Rugby Awards earlier this month.
All Blacks Sevens legend DJ Forbes also collected two awards with the Richard Crawshaw Memorial All Blacks Sevens Player of the Year and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA) Kirk Award.
Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore was named the Coach of the Year, for his leadership in a World Cup campaign that captured the hearts of a nation, all while dropping only one match throughout the year. Star winger Portia Woodman’s exceptional try for the Black Ferns against USA at the World Cup was voted by the public as the Fans Try of the Year.
Black Fern loose forward and Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Goss was named the New Zealand Rugby Women’s Player of the Year after a World Cup campaign where she started every match. She adds this title to the Best Female Athlete in Oceania at the Association of Olympic Committee (ANOC) Awards in Prague last month.
Meanwhile, her Black Ferns Sevens team-mate Ruby Tui was named Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year. Tui’s powerful and aggressive game was at its best in 2017, also earning her a nomination for World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year.
During the evening, Black Ferns skipper Fiao’o Fa’amausili was presented with a greenstone mere, in recognition of her 50 Test match milestone, achieved during their World Cup campaign, making her the most capped Black Fern of all time.
The newly introduced Duane Monkley and Fiao’o Fa’amausili Medals were presented for the first time to acknowledge the best players in the Mitre 10 Cup and Farah Palmer Cup respectively. This is the first year of a new category to recognise the best of the women’s provincial competition. Northland’s Jack Goodhue and Counties Manukau’s Hazel Tubic won the medals.
New Zealand Rugby’s accolade for exceptional service, the Salver, was this year awarded to Wayne Smith for his phenomenal service to rugby in New Zealand. His career in the black jersey began as a player in 1980 and ended earlier this year having been a key member of the coaching team that led the All Blacks to back-to-back Rugby World Cup titles.
An impressive 12 months with the whistle saw Wellingtonian Ben O’Keeffe named New Zealand Rugby Referee of the Year. O’Keeffe officiated in the Rugby Championship, end of year fixtures in Europe and continues to climb the referee ranks including Six Nations duty early next year.
Four decades of service to coaching in the Wairarapa Bush region saw Sid Tatanareceive the Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year. Tatana commits to an average commute of up to three hours for every coaching session he leads and has long been a strong advocate for Maori rugby in the province.
New Zealand Rugby chairperson Brent Impey said the Rugby Awards event was an opportunity to reflect on a big year for rugby in New Zealand, and to celebrate the many successes across teams and major events such as the British & Irish Lions tour.
“2017 has been another big year for rugby around the world and here in New Zealand, and there is a lot for us to celebrate," he told the All Blacks' official website.
"A good indicator that our national teams were in good form on the world stage is that we currently hold all five Rugby World Cup trophies - a spectacular achievement for our collective efforts.
“With us tonight, we are lucky to have such incredibly, talented people who are dedicated to making rugby the great game that it is, and tonight is very much about acknowledging all of them,” he said.
All Blacks tough man and Crusaders captain Whitelock was consistently dominant in 2017 and continued to be a key member of the All Blacks, as well as leading the Crusaders to win an incredibly rare Super Rugby Final on the road.
Black Fern loose forward and Black Ferns Sevens captain Goss was a huge presence on the field in both defence and attack, and she started every match of the Black Ferns World Cup campaign with a remarkable 98 percent tackle rate.
Meanwhile, Sevens team-mate Tui’s powerful and aggressive game was at its best in 2017, also earning her a nomination for World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year.
Sevens legend Forbes announced his retirement from the game this year and his outstanding career was acknowledged tonight with the Richard Crawshaw Memorial All Black Sevens Player of the Year Award and the NZRPA Kirk Award for his outstanding contribution to the game.
Forbes played his 150th World Series tournament in 2017 and was once again a leading force for the All Blacks Sevens. It is his hard work off the field that saw Forbes receive the Kirk Award, for his tireless efforts as a player advocate on the NZRPA Board over a continued period that has helped shape the sevens game in New Zealand.
World Rugby’s 2017 Breakthrough Player of the Year Rieko Ioane added to his awards collection with the Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year. Ioane was joint top points scorer for the All Blacks Rugby Championship campaign on top of 10 tries for his Super Rugby team the Blues.
Goodhue returned home to play Mitre 10 Cup for Northland in 2017, a move that paid off with the midfield back being a stand-out throughout the season and earning an All Blacks call up for the end-of-year tour of Europe. Goodhue’s consistent performances saw him top the points table to receive the Duane Monkley Medal.
Fresh from World Cup glory with the Black Ferns, Tubic made a strong impression on the Farah Palmer Cup for her Counties Manukau team. A versatile back, Tubic was top points scorer in 2017 and the first recipient of the new Fiao’o Fa’amausili Medal, a new category in this year’s awards.
Horowhenua Kapiti prop Scott Cameron picked up the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship Player of the Year. He was a key driver in getting his team to the Meads Cup Final and also played a starring role in the New Zealand Heartland XV in their one-off fixture against New Zealand Marist.
While Wellington hooker Asafo Aumua missed out on the Duane Monkley Medal, his outstanding 2017 was recognised, receiving the New Zealand Age Grade Player of the Year. His dynamic, exciting style set the New Zealand Under-20 World Cup campaign alight and he was on fire throughout the Mitre 10 Cup, with performances so breath-taking, the All Blacks couldn’t ignore him for their end-of-year tour.
2017 New Zealand Rugby Awards winners:
Fans Try of the Year: Portia Woodman (Black Ferns)
NZRPA Kirk Award: DJ Forbes
Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year: Sid Tatana (Wairarapa Bush)
New Zealand Rugby Referee of the Year: Ben O’Keeffe (Wellington)
New Zealand Rugby Age Grade Player of the Year: Asafo Aumua (Wellington)
Mitre 10 Heartland Championship Player of the Year: Scott Cameron (Horowhenua Kapiti)
Richard Crawshaw Memorial All Blacks Sevens Player of the Year: DJ Forbes (Counties Manukau)
Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year: Ruby Tui (Canterbury)
Duane Monkley Medal: Jack Goodhue (Northland)
Fiao’o Fa’amausili Medal: Hazel Tubic (Counties Manukau)
Super Rugby Player of the Year: Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)
Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year: Rieko Ioane (Ngapuhi / Te Whanau a Apanui)
Salver for an Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand Rugby: Wayne Smith
Coach of the Year: Glenn Moore (Black Ferns)
New Zealand Rugby Women’s Player of the Year: Sarah Goss (Manawatu)
Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year: Sam Whitelock
Team of the Year: Black Ferns