The winners for this year’s Steinlager Rugby Awards, New Zealand’s premier rugby awards, have been announced with Hurricanes hooker Andrew Hore heading off strong challenges from Richie McCaw and teammate Piri Weepu to take out the prestigious Kelvin R. Tremain Memorial Player of the Year.
The Hurricanes’ website reports that Hore’s disappointment at coming home early from the All Blacks tour may have been tempered by him also winning the Rebel Sport Super 14 Player of the Year, reflecting a magnificent year for the Maniototo farmer.
Other All Blacks to pick up awards included Piri Weepu, who won the Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year Award and Southland captain Jamie Mackintosh, who won the Air New Zealand Cup Player of the Year.
The All Blacks took out the Team of the Year for a hugely successful year in which they won the Iveco Series, retained the Bledisloe Cup while winning the Philips Tri-Nations, beat the Wallabies in Hong Kong and European champions Munster in Ireland, and completed a Grand Slam tour of the UK.
Coach of the Year was awarded to All Blacks coach Graham Henry for masterminding this outstanding series of results which saw the team win 14 out of the 16 matches played this year.
New Zealand Sevens Captain DJ Forbes can add the Richard Crawshaw Memorial Sevens Player of the Year to the IRB Sevens Player of the Year Award he won last month.
In other Awards, a trio of wingers were among the winners on the night. Auckland speedster Victoria Grant was awarded the NZRU Women’s Player of the Year, Wanganui youngster Cameron Crowley the AA Rewards Heartland Championship Player of the Year and Hawke’s Bay’s rising star Zac Guildford the NZRU Age Grade Player of the Year.
The Steinlager Salver, a special presentation to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand rugby, was presented to former All Blacks Captain Tane Norton at the Awards function.
Prior to serving as President to both the Canterbury and New Zealand Rugby Unions Norton had a distinguished playing career, representing Mid-Canterbury, Canterbury and New Zealand Maori before making his All Blacks debut in1971.
He captained the All Blacks nine times in his sixty one games for them, which included 27 tests (four as Captain).
Ken Swain won the New Zealand Rugby Volunteer of the Year for his loyal dedication and service to the Horowhenua Kapiti Rugby Union.
The judges for the 2008 Steinlager Rugby Awards were former All Blacks captain and former NZRU President John Graham, NZRU Board member and former New Zealand Maori captain Paul Quinn, SKY Sport rugby commentator Grant Nisbett and NZRU General Manager Professional Rugby Neil Sorensen.
The full list of winners at the 2008 Steinlager Rugby Awards is as follows:
NZRU Age Grade Player of the Year
Zac Guildford (New Zealand Under-20, Hurricanes, Hawke’s Bay)
Richard Crawshaw Memorial Sevens Player of the Year
DJ Forbes (Counties Manukau)
NZRU Referee of the Year
Bryce Lawrence (Bay of Plenty)
Women’s Player of the Year
Victoria Grant (nee Blackledge) (Auckland)
New Zealand Rugby Volunteer of the Year
Ken Swain (Horowhenua Kapiti)
Rebel Sport Super 14 Player of the Year
Andrew Hore (Hurricanes)
Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year
Piri Weepu (Wellington)
AA Rewards Heartland Championship Player of the Year
Cameron Crowley (Wanganui)
Air New Zealand Cup Player of the Year
Jamie Mackintosh (Southland)
adidas Team of the Year
New Zealand Rugby Coach of the Year
Graham Henry (All Blacks)
Steinlager Salver for an Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand Rugby
Kelvin R. Tremain Memorial Player of the Year