The winners of New Zealand’s premier rugby awards, the Steinlager Rugby Awards, have been announced, with All Blacks captain Richie McCaw named the Player of the Year.
McCaw received the Kelvin R. Tremain Memorial Trophy at New Zealand rugby’s annual showcase awards ceremony at the SKYCITY Auckland Convention Centre in Auckland tonight (New Zealand time).
The award caps a fantastic year for 25-year-old McCaw, who was last month also named both the International Rugby Board (IRB) and International Players Association’s Player of the Year. McCaw played 12 Tests this year, including 10 in succession and also led the Crusaders to Rebel Sport Super 14 glory.
The prestigious Steinlager Salver, awarded annually to people who have made an outstanding contribution to the game of rugby, was presented to former All Black forward and All Blacks selector Stan “Tiny” Hill, OBE.
79-year-old Tiny Hill made his name as a rugged forward for Canterbury, the New Zealand Army and Services teams and the All Blacks. He made his All Blacks debut in 1955 and played 19 games including 11 Tests. In 1956 he played in all three historic victories over the Springboks as well as the 1959 series victory over the touring British Lions. Hill became selector for the New Zealand Army team and Canterbury before becoming an All Blacks selector from 1981 to 1986, helping the team to a clean sweep over the Lions in 1983 and an unbeaten season in 1985.
In other awards, Richie McCaw’s All Blacks, Crusaders and Canterbury teammate Daniel Carter, who together with Chiefs and Waikato All Black Malili Muliaina was also nominated for the top player award, was named Rebel Sport Super 14 Player of the Year.
The All Blacks were named the adidas Team of the Year for the second year in a row, beating off tough competition from the Women’s Rugby World Cup-winning Black Ferns, the Rebel Sport Super 14 champions Crusaders and Air New Zealand Cup champions Waikato. The team won a record-equalling 12 out of 13 Tests, retained the Bledisloe Cup and the Philips Tri Nations trophy and ended the year with emphatic wins against England, France and Wales.
All Blacks Coach Graham Henry was also named Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year. Henry has won 32 of his 36 Tests as All Blacks Coach and, under his direction, the All Blacks are unbeaten at home and in the Northern Hemisphere.
In domestic rugby awards, Waikato’s standout centre Richard Kahui was named Air New Zealand Cup Player of the Year while Poverty Bay first five-eighth and competition top-scorer Scott Leighton was named AA Rewards Heartland Championship Player of the Year.
All Blacks, Highlanders and Otago prop Carl Hayman, from the Tuwharetoa iwi of the central North Island, was named the Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year while Black Ferns and Canterbury midfielder Amiria Marsh, who starred at the Women’s Rugby World Cup and was picked in the Tournament’s All Stars XV, was named Women’s Player of the Year.
Hawke’s Bay’s Tafai Ioasa, who captained the New Zealand Sevens team to 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medal glory was named the Sevens Player of the Year, receiving the Richard Crawshaw Memorial Trophy. Canterbury’s 21-year-old flanker Michael Paterson, who excelled for New Zealand at the IRB Under 21 World Championship in France, was named NZRU Age Grade Player of the Year.
The New Zealand Rugby Volunteer of the Year award, which honours the hard-working volunteers who work in the junior and amateur game, was won by Otago’s Jock Martin, who is President, Chairman and Under 13 coach at the Lawrence Rugby Club in central Otago.
The NZRU Referee of the Year award was won by Paul Honiss for the second year in a row. Honiss became New Zealand’s most capped Test referee when he refereed his 38th Test this year.
The judges for the 2006 Steinlager Rugby Awards were former All Blacks manager John Sturgeon (convenor), All Blacks selector Sir Brian Lochore, former All Blacks captain and past NZRU president Tane Norton and veteran journalist and author Bob Howitt.
The full list of winners at the 2006 Steinlager Rugby Awards is as follows:
NZRU Age Grade Player of the Year
Michael Paterson (Canterbury/New Zealand Under 21)
Richard Crawshaw Memorial Sevens Player of the Year
Tafai Ioasa (Hawke’s Bay)
NZRU Referee of the Year
Women’s Player of the Year
Amiria Marsh (Canterbury)
New Zealand Rugby Volunteer of the Year
Jock Martin (Otago)
Rebel Sport Super 14 Player of the Year
Daniel Carter (Crusaders)
adidas Team of the Year
Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year
AA Rewards Heartland Championship Player of the Year
Scott Leighton (Poverty Bay)
Air New Zealand Cup Player of the Year
Richard Kahui (Waikato)
New Zealand Rugby Coach of the Year
Graham Henry (All Blacks)
Steinlager Salver for an Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand Rugby
Stan “Tiny” Hill
Kelvin R. Tremain Memorial Player of the Year
Richie McCaw (Canterbury/Crusaders/All Blacks)
• Media note: Free images of the winners from tonight’s Steinlager Rugby Awards will be available from the Media Centre on allblacks.com from Friday morning (New Zealand Time).
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