Black Ferns clean up at rugby awards

The Black Ferns after winning the team of the year award at last night's NZ Rugby Awards. Photo:...
The Black Ferns after winning the team of the year award at last night's NZ Rugby Awards. Photo: Getty Images
What a year it has been for the Black Ferns.

A fifth World Cup crown received global recognition with World Rugby's team of the year gong for the first time, and that success was backed up with a sweep at the New Zealand Rugby awards on Thursday night.

After dropping one match this year the Black Ferns took out the team, coach and try of the year gongs, with Glenn Moore edging out rookie Crusaders mentor Scott Robertson, and Portia Woodman's stunning solo effort in the World Cup semifinal victory over USA rightly recognised.

In something of a surprise, Sam Whitelock did the double to take home the Super Rugby and overall Kelvin R Tremain Memorial player of the year awards, beating out star wing Rieko Ioane, the All Blacks' equal top points scorer in the Rugby Championship, and Black Ferns loose forward and sevens skipper Sarah Goss.

Whitelock, the 96-test veteran and most capped All Blacks lock, enjoyed an exceptional season.

In his rookie captaincy campaign, he helped guide the Crusaders to their first title since 2008 – that it came on the road in Johannesburg only amplifying the achievement.

Without familiar locking partner Brodie Retallick, Whitelock carried a huge load on the All Blacks northern tour. And in the final test of the season in Cardiff he also captained the All Blacks for the first time in Kieran Read's absence.

Ioane and Goss did not leave empty-handed.

Goss, who started every World Cup match and had a 98% tackle rate, claimed the women's player of the year title, adding that to best female athlete in Oceania at the Association of Olympic Committee awards in Prague last month.

World Rugby breakthrough player of the year Ioane accepted the Tom French Memorial Maori player award after scoring 10 tries for the Blues.

Stepping aside from the All Blacks, Wayne Smith received the special recognition for his phenomenal service to the game here. Smith's career in the black jersey began as a player in 1980 and ended (for now at least) after the Rugby Championship, having been a key member of the coaching team that led the All Blacks to successive World Cup titles.

On a similar note, DJ Forbes picked up the Richard Crawshaw Memorial sevens player of the year, and NZRPA Kirk award for his outstanding contribution to the game.

Forbes played his 150th World Series tournament and announced his retirement from sevens this year.

His tireless efforts as a player advocate on the NZRPA board, helping shape the sevens game in New Zealand, saw him receive the Kirk award.

Canterbury's Ruby Tui was named Black Ferns sevens player of the year.

In another surprise decision, Northland centre Jack Goodhue took the Mitre 10 Cup's Duane Monkley Medal ahead of Asafo Aumua, the Wellington hooker who lit up the competition and forced his way into the All Blacks.

Versatile Counties Manukau back Hazel Tubic claimed the Farah Palmer Cup's Fiao'o Fa'amausili Medal.

During the evening, Black Ferns skipper Fiao'o Fa'amausili was presented with a greenstone mere, in recognition of her 50th test milestone, achieved during the World Cup campaign, making her the most capped Black Fern of all time.

Horowhenua Kapiti prop Scott Cameron picked up the Heartland Championship player of the year after leading his team to the Meads Cup final and also playing a starring role in the New Zealand Heartland XV in their one-off fixture against New Zealand Marist.

Wellington's Ben O'Keeffe was named referee of the year.

Four decades of service to coaching in the Wairarapa Bush region saw Sid Tatana receive the Charles Monro volunteer of the year.

NZR chairman Brent Impey said the 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 and 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. A good indicator that our national teams were in good form on the world stage is that we currently hold all five 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."

2017 Rugby Awards winners
Fan's 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)

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 Māori Player of the Year: Rieko Ioane (Ngāpuhi / Te Whānau ā 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

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