Wallabies and New South Wales Waratahs fullback Israel Folau has been handed the ultimate honour in Australian Rugby after being named the John Eales Medallist for 2014. At Rugby’s night of nights, the ARU celebrated and acknowledged the men and women in the Australian Rugby community – fans, players, coaches, match officials and administrators – for their dedication, commitment and outstanding performance. The 2014 ceremony was the first time performances in Super Rugby were incorporated into the event, while it was the first opportunity to recognise the best performers from the inaugural National Rugby Championship season.
The John Eales Medallist is voted for by Wallabies players on a 3-2-1 basis after each Test match. The winner is the player that has accumulated the most points over the past 12 months from the 2013 Spring Tour to the third Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand earlier this month. The 25-year-old, who was last year recognised as the Wallabies Rookie of the Year, picked up 314 votes in total, ahead of his Waratahs team mate Michael Hooper (232), James Slipper (208), Tevita Kuridrani (202) and Stephen Moore (98) to claim the coveted accolade.
The John Eales Medal is due reward for Folau after an impressive 2013 Spring Tour, stunning performances against France in the June Test Series and a series of consistent displays in the Rugby Championship. Since last November, Folau has scored eight tries for his country. Israel Folau has been named the joint winner of the Super Rugby Player of the Year award along with Michael Hooper, with both playing pivotal roles in the New South Wales Waratahs’ remarkable 2014 season.
Australian Rugby Union CEO, Bill Pulver congratulated Israel Folau for his performances in 2014, “Israel Folau is one of the most exciting players in world Rugby at the moment and his performances over the last 12 months make him a worthy recipient of this award. On behalf of the wider Australian Rugby community, we congratulate Israel on being named the 2014 John Eales Medallist and wish him all the best for the forthcoming Spring Tour.” The Wallabies depart tomorrow for their traditional end of year Spring Tour which will feature matches against the Barbarians, Wales, France, Ireland and England.
Other awards presented at the John Eales Medal award ceremony, three former stalwarts of the game – Wylie Breckenridge, Greg Davis and Simon Poidevin – were inducted into the Wallaby Hall of Fame. Each inductee was chosen for demonstrating outstanding ability, sportsmanship, commitment, character and personal contribution to their team and the game in their era. Back-rower Sean McMahon from the Melbourne Rebels, who was yesterday named in the Qantas Wallabies touring party for the forthcoming Spring Tour, collected three awards at the John Eales Medal.
Hewas named the Australian U20s Player of the Year; the National Rugby Championship Player of the Series; and the Super Rugby Rookie of the Year. 25-year-old lock Sam Carter, who made his debut against France in the Brisbane Test in June and played eight Tests in 2014, was named the Wallabies Rookie of the Year. New Wallabies Head Coach Michael Cheika collected the Super Rugby Coach of the Year after leading the New South Waratahs to their maiden Super Rugby title. The Waratahs, meanwhile, won the Super Rugby Team of the Year.
Qantas Women’s Sevens star Emilee Cherry won The Shawn Mackay Award for Sevens Player of the Year and the Women’s Player of the Year across both the Sevens and XVs form of the game. It caps off an impressive year for the Queenslander, who is the current IRB Women’s Sevens Player of the Year. Cameron Clark was named Men’s Sevens Player of the Year after a breakthrough season that saw the 21-year-old named in the IRB’s Sevens Team of the Year for the 2013-14 season.
In other awards, Sydneysider Amy Perrett became the first woman to win the Referee of the Year award after a year that saw her officiate the Women’s Rugby World Cup Final in France. Bingham Cup President Andrew Purchas was presented with the Nick Farr-Jones Spirit of Rugby award for his commitment to promoting inclusion in Rugby.