Olympians come up trumps at RUPA Awards

By Pete Fairbairn, 13.12.17

Tom Cusack joined fellow Olympians, former Australian Men’s Rugby Sevens teammate James ‘Chucky’ Stannard and gold-medal winning Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens star Chloe Dalton OAM, as winners at today’s Volvo-RUPA Awards Lunch in Sydney.

Cusack was named the National Rugby Championship (NRC) Players’ Player of the Year after a dominant campaign with tournament runners-up Canberra Vikings.

Evergreen Stannard, Cusack’s teammate in Rio, has won his first Australian Rugby Sevens’ Players’ Player of the Year award at 34 years of age, while Dalton becomes the third ever player to win the Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens Players’ Player of the Year award after scoring 168 points on the 2016-2017 World Rugby Sevens series.

NRC Players’ Player of the Year:

Tom Cusack impressed for NSW Country in the 2016 NRC, earning his first ever Super Rugby contract with the Brumbies where he broke through for two Super Rugby appearances this year and subsequently penned a two-year contract extension.

Cusack’s high standing within the Brumbies’ environment saw the homegrown product named as the Vikings’ Captain in 2017, and he rose to the challenge by starting nine of his team’s NRC matches and scoring five tries as they finished the campaign as runners-up.

It’s just rewards for 24-year-old openside flanker Cusack, who only fifteen months ago was representing Australia in Rugby Sevens at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro before returning to the fifteen-a-side game following three seasons starring in the abbreviated format.

Ten finalists were selected, with all players who competed in the 2017 NRC invited to vote in the NRC Players’ Player award on a 3-2-1 basis. Cusack finished ahead of Vikings’ backrow teammate Rob Valetini in second, with Duncan Paia’aua (Queensland Country) and Tayler Adams (NSW Country Eagles) rounding out the top four. The other finalists for the award were Tom Banks, Filipe Daugunu, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Jed Holloway, Isi Naisarani and Taniela Tupou.

Cusack is the fourth winner of the NRC Players’ Player award, with Samu Kerevi (Brisbane City, 2014), Ita Vaea (Canberra Vikings, 2015) and Jake Gordon (NSW Country Eagles, 2016) others to have been voted the competition’s best by their peers.

Australian Men’s Rugby Sevens Players’ Player of the Year:

James ‘Chucky’ Stannard turned back the clock on the 2016-2017 World Rugby Sevens series, playing in all 10 tournaments and producing arguably his best season to date. The veteran playmaker added 247 points throughout the season, bringing his career total to an Australian all-time-high 1042 points.

Chucky also developed off the field in 2017, earning rave reviews for his performances as an Assistant Coach for the Macquarie Uni Sydney Rays during the inaugural AON Women’s Uni7 Series.

He joins fellow Olympians Cameron Clark (2014 & 2015), Con Foley (2013), Lewis Holland (2016) and Jesse Parahi (2012) as recipients of the award. Young flier Simon Kennewell finished in second place, ahead of rookie star Liam McNamara in third.

Ten players were initially shortlisted for the award, with all current contracted Australian Men’s Rugby Sevens players and all players who represented Australia in the 2016/2017 World Rugby Sevens series invited to vote on a 3-2-1 basis.

Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens Players’ Player of the Year:

Chloe Dalton OAM joins Emilee Cherry OAM (2013 & 2014) and Charlotte Caslick OAM (2015 & 2016) in winning the most prestigious player-voted Women’s Rugby Sevens award in Australia Rugby.

Dalton backed up a wonderful 2016 with some standout performances in the 2017 season, earning selection in the Tournament Dream Team in Clermont alongside Cherry and Caslick. Her reliability in front of the sticks continued, as she finished as the World Rugby Sevens series’ second highest point scorer, while she starred for the Macquarie Uni Sydney Rays in the Aon Uni 7s series.

Cherry finished as runner up ahead of Co-Captain Shannon Parry OAM in third place.

Eight players were initially shortlisted for the award, with all contracted Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens players invited to vote on a 3-2-1 basis.

Related articles:

Isi Naisarani wins 2017 RUPA Medal For Excellence

Charlotte Caslick OAM voted Australia's favourite Rugby player, while Marika Koroibete's outstanding debut campaign is recognised

Brumbies duo & young Waratahs' off-field achievements recognised at Volvo-RUPA Awards Lunch

Pete Fairbairn
Communications Manager
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