[Drumroll] …and the winner is? That is a statement will be announced many times on Thursday night, when the 2018 ASB New Zealand Rugby Awards ceremony is held.
The pinnacle awards night for New Zealand (NZ) rugby players, coaches, referees and stakeholders. This years event will be a expression of the strengths of the game–with a focus to be placed on the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup winning Blacks Ferns XV team, who received multiple nominations.
The nominations for the 2017 ASB Rugby Awards have been announced.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) December 2, 2017
2017 ASB New Zealand Rugby Awards
Like last year, the event will be held at the SkyCity Convention Center in Auckland. The premier showcase of the professional rugby players, but with a nod towards the grassroots that NZ rugby stands upon. Awards vary from ‘Rugby Volunteer of the Year’ to ‘Age Grade Player of the Year’ and unique ‘Tom French Memorial Māori Player of the Year’.
With the All Blacks being a seminal high-performing side, they are challenged for that 2018 title. There are many questions on the lips of rugby commentators;
‘Will the Black Ferns women’s XV team win the team of the year?’
The Black Ferns are nominated for team of the year, alongside the eight-time Crusaders Super Rugby champions, and the U20 World Championship winning side.
In many ways, 2017 has been the year of women’s rugby. At no other time has the spotlight been so strongly placed on the women who play, and administer the game. And that started with the election of Dr Farah Palmer to the NZ Rugby board in 2016.
Recognition, but also a growing respect and responsibility–after some periods where men’s character and attitude was questioned. That led to recommendations for change, which NZ Rugby are embracing.
Respect for the Women’s Contribution to NZ Rugby
The Black Ferns successfully reclaimed their World title in the World Rugby tournament held in Ireland. One of the most successful teams, with a record that dwarfs the men’s teams three titles. The five-time winning side could certainly go into the awards ceremony Thursday, as favourites. When has that ever happened?
But it is acknowledged as being both positive, and well deserved. The team captain Fiao’o Fa’amausili has been honoured with an award in her name, to be awarded to the most impressive women’s player of the 2017 Farah Palmer Cup.
Her team mates will contest the Women’s Player of the Year, and head coach Glenn Moore is the leading nominee for ‘Coach of the Year’ beside Scott Robertson and Craig Philpott.
All Blacks Still the Benchmark for World Rugby
While Steve Hansen may have been missed in the 2018 ASB New Zealand Rugby Awards, his side are still the benchmark. And Hansen’s group is still recognized across many categories. International success at the World Rugby Awards will have satisfied Beauden Barrett, but his team mates will still be up for the major award of the evening.
The heralded ‘Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year’ award will see last years Sevens POTY Rieko Ioane battle his end of year tour captain Sam Whitelock. But in a fantastic move, the third nominee is Sarah Goss.
The Black Ferns Sevens captain has reached a zenith, with the 2016/17 HSBC Women’s Sevens Series title, added to her Women’s RWC winners medal. It could not be any better for Sarah Goss (see main photo). That is….unless she wins the Kel Tremain award.
That alone would be a groundbreaking mark for NZ Rugby [as was the Black Ferns XV team winning the World Rugby team of the year]. The equality in the nominations must also be applauded. Many will hope that the Black Ferns XV’s flanker, Sevens team captain and ambassador for NZ Rugby is shown the respect for her on-field achievements. That would carry on the trend of Women taking a ‘prime position’ in the game.
So the anticipation leading into Thursday nights ceremony is for both International teams achievements, plus the Mitre 10 Cup and Super Rugby players categories. There is also the publicly chosen ‘Sky Television Fans Try of the Year’. This years finalists were Hannah Brough from the Waikato women’s provincial team, Toni Pulu from the Chiefs, and the elusive Portia Woodman of the Black Ferns.
Be sure to watch our for all the results, to be reported on after Thursday nights 2018 ASB New Zealand Rugby Awards cermony.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images