NSW Rugby celebrated the achievements across the State at its annual Awards ceremony tonight.
On a night that acknowledged rugby from the beach to the bush, it also highlighted the tremendous contribution of the game’s volunteers.
Taking out the Matthew Burke Cup was Israel Folau, who ended the Super Rugby season on 14 matches, including 11 tries.
The Matthew Burke Cup, named after the NSW fullback who played 115 games for the State between 1992 and 2004, is the players’ player award and decided by tallying the votes of the match day squad, who allocate their votes on a 3-2-1 basis after every game of the Super Rugby season.
Folau earned 99 votes, ahead of Michael Hooper (77), Michael Wells (71), Kurtley Beale (65) and Taqele Naiyaravoro (64).
NSW Women’s Player of the Year was Ash Hewson, who captained the State team to the inaugural Super W title earlier this year. It has been an extraordinary year for Hewson, who held her nerve in extra time to successfully kick a penalty in the 92nd minute of the final against Queensland Women to clinch the match. Last week she also captained Sydney University to the Jack Scott Cup title.
NSW Rugby and NSW Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore said: “Tonight was about recognising and acknowledging the immense work that is done across the State and at all levels of the game. Regardless of whether people are paid or not, they give 100% for the love of the game.”
NSW Rugby also tonight acknowledged Hugh Roach, Matt Sandell and Brad Wilkin who will farewell the State at the conclusion of this year’s National Rugby Championship.
Roach has been a in the NSW Waratahs set up since 2014 and in that time played 41 games for the State, including 39 Super Rugby matches. Wilkin made his Super Rugby debut this year and ended the season with six caps to his name. Both Roach and Wilkin have signed with the Melbourne Rebels for 2019.
Sandell is in the Sydney team playing in the NRC and yet to make his Super Rugby debut.
Matthew Burke Cup winner
NSW Women’s Player of the Year
Volunteer of the Year (Youth)
Dan Leadley of the Maitland Blacks
Volunteer of the Year (Seniors)
The Camden Rugby Club Chain Gang
Rugby Young Community Match Official of the Year
Todd Cummings of Graystanes High School
Rugby Community Match Official of the Year
Ian Mooney of the Sydney West Rugby Referees Association
Community Coach of the Year (Youth)
Greg Wyatt-Spratt of the Hunters Hill Club
Community Coach of the Year (Female)
Sarah Laman of Epping Boys’ High School
Community Coach of the Year (Seniors)
Tom Cullen of the Coonamble Rams Club
Spirit of Rugby – Girl Player of the Year
Abby Holmes of the University of Wollongong
Spirit of Rugby – Boys Player of the Year
Finn Graham of St Joseph’s College
Spirit of Rugby – Colts Player of the Year
Jack Radford of the Northern Suburbs Club
Matthew Street Shield (for the best and fairest player at the National Schools Championship)
Joey Walton of Wadalba High School
David Dennis Youth Development Player of the Year
Josh Kemeny of Sydney University
Will Tanner Medal for the NSW Country Player of the Year
Kentwell Medal for the NSW Suburban Representative Player of the Year
Charlie Gamble of the Petersham Rugby Club
Ken Catchpole Medal for the NSW Premiership Player of the Year
Adrian Musico of the Parramatta Club
Club of the Year
Chris Whitaker Aspiring Waratah Medal
NSW Waratahs Best Back
NSW Waratahs Best Forward