David Pocock wins second RUPA Medal for Excellence. Brumbies, Wallabies star also elected the Volvo People’s Choice Award winner.
Brumbies and Wallabies back rower David Pocock has crowned an outstanding 2015 season by taking out The Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) Medal for Excellence, Australia’s highest player-voted individual honour, at Wednesday’s Volvo-RUPA Awards Lunch.
Pocock, who won the same award in 2010, was also chosen by the people of Australia as their favourite Rugby player in 2015, with his on and off-field performance and commitment acknowledged as he topped the online poll in the Volvo People’s Choice Award.
Speaking about winning the RUPA Medal for Excellence from Africa, where is on his well-earned holidays, Pocock said it was a very special honour.
“I’m sorry I can’t be there today to accept this in person,” Pocock said in a video shown at the Volvo-RUPA Awards Lunch, “but it’s always an honour to be recognised by your peers.
“They are the ones you play alongside and against, and at the end of the day their opinion really does matter, so it’s a huge honour to win the RUPA Medal for Excellence; thank you very much.”
The awards capped a remarkable 2015 for Pocock which saw the 26 year old calmly dispel any doubts about his long-term durability as he shrugged off two seasons ruined by serious knee injuries to star for the Brumbies on their run to the Super Rugby Semi Finals. He scored eight tries for the Brumbies, including two hat-tricks, while in defence he made more than 96% of the tackles he attempted, and as always, was a constant threat at the breakdown for any opposing player.
Pocock was then one of the genuine stars of the Wallabies’ run to the Rugby World Cup Semi Finals, and he was named in the Team of the Tournament for the second successive time. He scored a double in his side’s opening Pool A clash against Fiji and also crossed the line against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup Final. Away from Rugby, David is currently studying a Bachelor of Ecological Agricultural Systems at Charles Sturt University, and he is keenly interested in environmental and conservation issues.
Melbourne Rebels winger Sefanaia Naivalu crowned a memorable first year as a professional player as he was voted the Newcomer of the Year by his Australian Super Rugby peers. 23 year old ‘Super Sefa’, who created history in September 2014 as the first ever player to sign for the Rebels directly from Victorian Club Rugby, continued to defy the odds when he cemented himself as a regular starter with the Rebels during his maiden Super Rugby campaign in 2015. He played thirteen matches before injury brought his season to a premature close, scoring four tries in the process with a highlight being the winning try in his Club’s first ever victory against the Brumbies in Canberra.
Waratahs and Wallabies prop Paddy Ryan was selected as the winner of the 2015 Community Service Award. A long-time advocate for breaking down the stigmas associated with depression and mental health, Paddy was selected to represent RUPA and all of its members at the world’s leading forum for social impact, Good Pitch Australia 2015. Paddy also gave many hours back to the community in various appearances such as coaching clinics, Macquarie Bank appearances and charity work with Starlight and Batyr.
Queensland Reds prop Ben Daley was chosen as the Academic Achievement Award winner. 2015 saw Daley complete his Bachelor of Laws at Bond University, where he specialised in Corporate and Commercial Law. With his theory work completed, Ben is now in the process of completing his practical legal training.
Charlotte Caslick and Cam Clark were voted in as the Women’s and Men’s Rugby Sevens Players’ Player Award winners respectively. In this year’s World Sevens Series, Charlotte Caslick bagged herself a hugely impressive seventeen tries. A highlight of her season was the pivotal role she played in Australia’s success in winning the Cup in London, as she scored tries in each of the knockout matches en route to the last gasp win against Canada in the decider, and her crucial try in last weekend’s Cup Quarter Final victory against New Zealand in Dubai.
This is the second consecutive season which has seen Clark deservedly voted as the RUPA Men’s Sevens Players’ Player. This season Clark passed 500 career points, and at just 22 years of age you can expect to see plenty more added to that tally.
Finally, UC Vikings back rower Ita Vaea was chosen by players from every team in the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) as the NRC Players’ Player. Ita, who was also the runner up in the Brumbies’ Players’ Player voting this season, thoroughly excelled in his first NRC campaign. He scored five of his six NRC tries at Viking Park, as the UC Vikings made it all the way to the 2015 NRC Grand Final, to cap a remarkable comeback campaign after spending the past two years out of the game with a life-threatening injury.
The Volvo-RUPA Awards Lunch, one of the highlights of the Australian Rugby calendar, allows RUPA’s members to acknowledge the significant achievements of their peers on and off the field. With a who’s who of Australian Rugby in attendance among a room of over 300 people including players, coaches, sponsors, media and other stakeholders of the game, it is seen as the ideal way to celebrate and reflect upon the Rugby season as the calendar year comes to a close before returning for next year’s Super Rugby competition in February.
28 players from Australia’s five Super Rugby franchises and the Australian Men’s and Women’s Rugby Sevens program who had been in attendance at RUPA’s Induction Camp at Coogee since Monday morning were also in attendance, symbolising a crucial stage in welcoming them to the Australian Rugby family as professional players.
The Rugby Union Players' Association was incorporated in October 1995 in direct response to the professionalism of Rugby and was established to promote and safeguard the interests of its members, namely the professional Rugby players of Australia.
Its members comprises players from the Wallabies, the NSW Waratahs, the Queensland Reds, Brumbies Rugby, the Western Force, the Melbourne Rebels, the State Union Academies, Men’s and Women’s Rugby Sevens squads and past professional players since 1996.
Currently 100% of Australia’s full time professional players are members of RUPA.
RUPA Award Winners 2015
RUPA Medal for Excellence, Presented by Australian Reliance: David Pocock (Brumbies)
Finalists: Israel Folau, Liam Gill, Scott Higginbotham, Greg Holmes, Michael Hooper, Steve Mafi, Ben McCalman, Sean McMahon, David Pocock, Ita Vaea
Newcomer of the Year, Presented by Allianz Stadium: Sefanaia Naivalu (Rebels)
Finalists: Rory Arnold, Ryan Louwrens, Campbell Magnay, Sefanaia Naivalu, Hugh Roach
Academic Achievement Award, Presented by Kaplan Professional: Ben Daley (Reds)
Finalists: Ben Alexander, Ben Daley, Greg Jeloudev, Ian Prior, Junior Rasolea
Community Service Award, Presented by Hall Chadwick: Paddy Ryan (Waratahs)
Finalists: Ben Daley, Tim Metcher, Paddy Ryan, Jordan Smiler, Joe Tomane
Men’s Sevens Players’ Player, Presented by AFEX: Cam Clark
Finalists: Cam Clark, Tom Cusack, Con Foley, Ed Jenkins, James Stannard
Women’s Sevens Players’ Player, Presented by NAB Private Wealth: Charlotte Caslick
Finalists: Charlotte Caslick, Emilee Cherry, Shannon Parry, Emma Tonegato, Sharni Williams
Volvo People’s Choice Award, Presented by Volvo Cars Australia: David Pocock (Brumbies)
Finalists: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Scott Fardy, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Michael Hooper, Ben McCalman, Sean McMahon, Stephen Moore, David Pocock
Buildcorp NRC Players’ Player, Presented by Buildcorp: Ita Vaea (UC Vikings)
Finalists: Jarrad Butler, Nick Frisby, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi, Junior Laloifi, Jono Lance, Jordy Reid, Ita Vaea