Black Ferns Women’s XV – the ‘Best of the Best’ in 2017

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Black Ferns Women's XV - the 'Best of the Best' in 2017
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 14: Adidas team of the Year the Black Ferns with coach Glen Moore (C) and captain Fiao'o Fa'amausili (R) during the ASB Rugby Awards 2018 at Sky City on December 14, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images for NZR)

Hailed by World Rugby as their Team of the Year, the awards and applause continue for the Black Ferns Women’s XV. Last night, they claimed the premier teams award at the 2017 ASB New Zealand Rugby Awards.

In being recognized by New Zealand (NZ) Rugby, it is yet another boost for the women’s game. They were challenged by the Super Rugby champion Crusaders, and the Under 20 World Champion Baby Blacks – tough company, but the Black Ferns Women’s XV were simply, the Best of the Best in 2017.

Black Ferns Women’s XV – Best of the Best in 2017

Dominant in their recent nominations, this second major win at a rugby awards presentation follows on from their rebound to the winners circle for the Black Ferns. Now a five-time World Champion, it capped off a return to the winners podium. Now with the public accolades for team and individuals, the adidas Team of the Year gong is the ‘icing on the cake’.

2017 ASB Rugby Awards winners:

  • Adidas Team of the Year – Black Ferns
  • ASB Coach of the Year – Glenn Moore (Black Ferns)
  • New Zealand Rugby Women’s Player of the Year – Sarah Goss (Manawatu)
  • SKY TV Fan’s Try of the Year – Portia Woodman (Black Ferns)
  • Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year – Ruby Tui (Canterbury)
  • Fiao’o Fa’amausili Medal – Hazel Tubic (Counties Manukau)
  • 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)
  • Duane Monkley Medal – Jack Goodhue (Northland)
  • Investec Super Rugby Player of the Year – Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)
  • Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year – Rieko Ioane (Ngapuhi / Te Whanau a Apanui)
  • Steinlager Salver for an Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand Rugby – Wayne Smith
  • Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year (POTY) – Sam Whitelock

Among the triumphs, all segments of the game were enthusiastically supported. From the credit given to departing All Blacks coach Wayne Smith. To the retiring DJ Forbes, who was singled out for his incredible work in Sevens and in the community. The awards included the recognition of the grassroots, where Sid Tatana from the Wairarapa Bush province was applauded for his work as a volunteer.

Both Black Ferns 7s and XVs Heralded

The significance of the Black Ferns influence in 2017 was underlined by a handful of awards. The Sevens team were recognized as the HSBC Sevens Series champions, and Ruby Tui won the 7s POTY. Team mate Hazel Tubic collected the newly created Fiao’o Fa’amausili Medal, for Provincial rugby women’s POTY.

Even though she was not in the major category of Women’s POTY, Portia Woodman could not stop taking the spotlight. Her 45 meter run to the try line at the WRWC in Ireland was judged by the public, as the ‘Try of the Year’. An exhibit of the class the Woodman brings to both the 7s and XVs game.

And for her part as both the 7s team captain, and as a senior leader in the Black Ferns Women’s XV team, Sarah Goss won the coveted women’s POTY award. A tribute to the adaptable rugby player, Goss was also nominated for the supreme Kel Tremaine Memorial award [won by Sam Whitleock]. A true athlete and one who is growing in strength; like Whitelock is many ways.

And the head coach of the year award; one that the All Blacks have held constantly in recent years, was presented to New Zealand women’s head coach Glenn Moore. A great recognition of his work over two years with the group.

Awards Evening Shines a Light on ‘Rugby-United’ NZR

Just as in Monaco, the star-studded event in Auckland last night, brought together top players, administrators and stakeholders. Celebrating the game on the field, and off of it too, the awards ceremony is two decades into more widespread coverage. And the #ASBrugbyawards hashtag was trending from the moment the nominees and guests walked the red carpet.

NZ Rugby Currently Holds ‘All the Cups’

New Zealand Rugby Chair Brent Impey said the ASB Rugby Awards event was an opportunity to reflect on a big year for rugby, 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. A good indicator that our national teams were in good form on the world stage is the fact;

“NZ teams currently hold all five Rugby World Cup trophies – a spectacular achievement for our collective efforts.”

With the Black Ferns Women’s XV eclipsing England in the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, they advanced to a record title run. They earned the title ‘Best of the Best’. Holding two more World Cups then the men’s team, they should be seen as the most dominant XV’s team.

But the measure is still a difficult one – professional versus amateur. And that conversation has only gained in strength now that the national organization has shown such reverence for their 2017 performances.

The future looks bright on many levels. What can be added now is only going to help the women’s game develop further. A possible trans-tasman ‘Super Rugby’ type championship, or one that includes SANZAAR and Pacifica teams. [watch this space for developments]

Last night was a monumental occasion, and it carries on the new positives in women’s rugby. Now these rewards need to converted into ‘real progress’ for the sport as a whole. Be it equity, competition and continued acknowledgement.

Best of the Best, and a worthy recipient, the Black Ferns Women’s XV are your 2017 Team of the Year.

 

“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images

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