James Slipper wins 2014 Medal for Excellence
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By Pete Fairbairn, 10.12.14

Queensland Reds and Wallabies prop, James Slipper was today announced as this year’s recipient of the coveted Medal for Excellence Award at the 2014 Volvo-RUPA Awards Lunch held in Sydney.

Slipper was a run-away leader of votes from his peers, following an impressive year for his state and country. Known for his good nature off the field, and powerful performances during game time, Slipper has shown some of his career best form in 2014.

It was a year that saw the 25-year-old earn his 50th Test cap and afforded the opportunity to Vice Captain the Wallabies, together with teammate Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Slipper joins last year’s winner, Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins, and other outstanding Australian rugby players, including Berrick Barnes, George Gregan, George Smith and four-time-winner Nathan Sharpe, as a recipient of the Medal for Excellence.

The Medal is more than just a Player’s Player Award, with all Super Rugby players asked to vote for both on and off field efforts. Votes are cast using a 3-2-1 points system based on a set of four key criteria, leadership, performance, consistency and discipline.

The top ten finalists are taken from the top two players’ player votes at each Australian Super Rugby team.

Awarded since 2001, the Medal for Excellence is one of the oldest rugby players’ player awards in Australia. It is one of eight accolades presented at the annual RUPA Awards.

Matt Hodgson took home the 2014 Volvo People’s Choice Award, which received almost 1,500 votes this year. Open to rugby supporters across the country, the Volvo People’s Choice asked people to vote for which player they thought best demonstrated the spirit of rugby in Australia.

Hodgson was undoubtedly a hit with rugby supporters in 2014 after a truly memorable year for the Western Force Captain. Hodgson became the first to reach 100 Super Rugby matches for the Western Force in 2014, in a season that included three man-of-the-match performances and six tries.

Hodgson’s inspirational journey was capped off after receiving his first call up to the Wallabies in four years, and later named to Captain the Men in Gold in their opening 2014 Spring Tour match.

Henry Speight and Pat McCutcheon were announced as joint winners of this year’s Community Service Award. Henry raised over $30,000 for Walk On Walk Strong (WOWS) Kids, a Foundation in Fiji that supports children with cancer and their families, recently shaving his hair for the cause.

The Fijian born Brumbies winger, who became Wallaby number 888 this year, is renowned for his humble dedication to causes and service in the community.

Pat McCutcheon has dedicated a lot of his time to community activities in metropolitan and regional areas of his state, having grown up in the NSW country town of Narromine.

The NSW Waratahs’ representative is also an Ambassador of the Raise Foundation, and supports several charities including Save our Sons, Batyr - One Sock One Goal and the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.

Unsung hero, Jeremy Tilse was another Waratahs player to be recognised off the field, receiving the award for Academic Excellence.

In 2014 Tilse completed an Advanced Diploma of Management, adding to his line-up of off-field endeavours, including a Certificate IV in Building and Construction that he has previously accomplished.

A builder by trade, from restoring boats, engines and all, to obtaining his pilot’s licence, to say that Jeremy is a keen learner is an understatement.

The Buildcorp NRC Players’ Player, a new award in 2014 following the inaugural tournament this year, was awarded to Samu Kerevi.

Despite missing the Buildcorp NRC Final due to injury, Samu proved extremely valuable for Brisbane City’s campaign, scoring and setting up plenty of tries and recording a man of the match performance in round one.

The Melbourne Rebels’ Sean McMahon added to his line-up of honours in 2014, topping players’ votes for Newcomer of the Year.

At just 20 years of age, McMahon has had one of the most remarkable and rapid rises through the rugby ranks, from Super Rugby debutant, Buildcorp NRC, Australian Men’s Sevens Commonwealth Games bronze, captain of the Australian Under 20s, to his recent first Wallabies cap.

In the rugby Sevens category, Cameron Clark took out the award for Men’s Sevens Player’s Player, while Emilee Cherry won Women’s Sevens Player’s Player.

This is the second year in a row Emilee has topped the players’ poll, following yet another successful year with the Australian Women’s Sevens. After stamping his authority as one of the premier Sevens players on the World circuit, Cameron too received the highest amount of votes from teammates.

The RUPA Awards provide Australia’s professional rugby players with the opportunity to vote and be voted by those who know them best, their peers. The Medal for Excellence, Newcomer of the Year, Men’s and Women’s Sevens Players’ Player and Buildcorp NRC Players’ Player Awards are all voted by players.

The annual awards are also an opportunity to recognise professional Australian rugby players for their off-field endeavours. RUPA’s five Player Development Managers, who work within each of the Australian Super Rugby teams, put forward the nominees for the Academic Excellence and Community Service Awards.

The list of all the 2014 RUPA Award winners and nominees are below.

Medal for Excellence – Presented by Australian Reliance

Winner: James Slipper (Queensland Reds)

Nominees:

Jarrad Butler (Brumbies)
Nic White (Brumbies)
Colby Fainga’a (Melbourne Rebels)
Mitch Inman (Melbourne Rebels)
Matt Hodgson (Western Force)
Ben McCalman (Western Force)
Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs)
Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs)
James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
Jake Schatz (Queensland Reds)

Academic Achievement Award – Presented by Kaplan Professional

Winner: Jeremy Tilse (NSW Waratahs)

Nominees:

Pama Fou (Sevens)
Tala Gray (NSW Waratahs)
Samu Kerevi (Queensland Reds)
Tom Kingston (Melbourne Rebels)
Chris Kuridrani (Queensland Reds)
Jeremy Tilse (NSW Waratahs)

Community Service Award – Presented by Hall Chadwick

Winner: Pat McCutcheon (NSW Waratahs) and Henry Speight (Brumbies)

Nominees:

Nathan Charles (Western Force)
Colby Fainga’a (Melbourne Rebels)
James Hanson (Queensland Reds)
Pat McCutcheon (NSW Waratahs)
Henry Speight (Brumbies)

Volvo People’s Choice Award – Presented by Volvo Cars Australia

Winner: Matt Hodgson (Western Force)

Nominees:

Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs)
Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs)
Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs)
Matt Hodgson (Western Force)
Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs)
James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
Matt Toomua (Brumbies)
Scott Fardy (Brumbies)
Ben McCalman (Western Force)
Scott Higginbotham (Melbourne Rebels)

Newcomer of the Year – Presented by Allianz Stadium

Winner: Sean McMahon (Melbourne Rebels)

Nominees:

Taqele Naiyaravoro (NSW Waratahs)
Samu Kerevi (Queensland Reds)
Sean McMahon (Melbourne Rebels)
Adam Coleman (Western Force)
JP Smith (Brumbies)

Buildcorp NRC Players’ Player – Presented by Buildcorp

Winner: Samu Kerevi (Brisbane City)

Nominees:

Samu Kerevi (Brisbane City)
Jack Debreczeni (Melbourne Rising)
Andrew Kellaway (NSW Country Eagles)
Nick Frisby (Brisbane City)
Sean McMahon (Melbourne Rising)

Men’s Sevens Players’ Player – Presented by AFEX

Winner: Cameron Clark

Nominees:

Cameron Clark
Jesse Parahi
Greg Jeloudev
Con Foley
Ed Jenkins

Women’s Sevens Players’ Player – Presented by NAB Private Wealth

Winner: Emilee Cherry

Nominees:

Shannon Parry
Charlotte Caslick
Alicia Quirk
Sharni Williams
Emilee Cherry

10.12.14
Pete Fairbairn
Communications Manager
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