The 2014 Planet Rugby Awards

Date published: January 1 2015

At the end of another jam-packed year in rugby, we pick out the individual stars who deserve recognition for their work.

It has been a fine 12 months loaded with Irish success in the Six Nations and more Rugby Championship glory for the All Blacks, as well as goodbyes to legends of the game.

Please, take your seats.

Player of the Year: Brodie Retallick
Who doesn’t love a guy that approaches a boot face first? In all seriousness, Retallick had a great Super Rugby tournament and then backed it up by dominating the June Tests and Rugby Championship. Still just 23.

Team of the Year: Ireland
New Zealand dominated (again) but with their wins over South Africa and Australia, plus a Six Nations title, Ireland get this one.

Six Nations Player of the Year: Jonathan Sexton
The Ireland fly-half has had a great year for his country but was pivotal in the Six Nations, finishing as the top points scorer and try scorer.

Rugby Championship Player of the Year: Duane Vermeulen
What a monster. Unlucky to miss out on the Player of the Year award, Vermeulen had a fantastic season racked up Man of the Match awards in the Rugby Championship.

Super Rugby Player of the Year: Bernard Foley
This could have gone to maybe Israel Folau or Michael Hooper, but the direction that Foley gave the ‘Tahs at ten was essential. Not to mention that penalty.

European Player of the Year (2013-2014): Matt Giteau
Toulon’s array of stars made it two European titles in a row but Giteau was the standout, with matchwinning performances from inside centre to send his old mate Jonny Wilkinson off in style.

Newcomer of the Year: Malakai Fekitoa
Unwanted by the Blues and then an All Black. Fekitoa blew us away in Super Rugby and his gradual emergence as an All Black is going to a be a joy to watch. So much power and skill.

Women’s Team of the Year: England
World Cup victory at last for England, whose key players including Maggie Alphonsi, Emily Scarratt and skipper Katy McLean were all heroes.

Coach of the Year: Joe Schmidt
We wondered how Ireland would respond to the heartbreak of last year’s late All Blacks loss, but the truth is they’ve been stronger. Schmidt has proven to be a tactical mastermind and while Steve Hansen had another good year, we’re giving this one to his compatriot.

Try of the Year: Cummins, Kriel, Harvey, May, Fekitoa
Let’s be straight here, choosing a Try of the Year is pretty impossible given everyone has a preference. We’ve passed on the IRPA’s choice of Francois Hougaard and shortlisted these five efforts. With the winner being… Fekitoa! We could watch this again and again.

Finish of the Year: Metuisela Talebula

Success of the Year: Women’s World Cup
We genuinely loved this year’s tournament perhaps truly for the first time, with hard-to-predict matchups, great tries like Magali Harvey’s and a tense final. Great for the Women’s game going forward.

History Boys Award: Taranaki
It’s not Canterbury’s anymore! Props to Taranaki for their maiden ITM Cup award, after defeating Tasman in the final.

Match of the Year: Premiership Final
The Springboks and All Blacks served up another humdinger at Ellis Park, but the exhaustion of this year’s Premiership Final has stuck with us. Extra-time, high-scoring drama. Even the TMO couldn’t spoil it.

Thriller of the Year: Highlanders 30-32 Crusaders
If you can watch rugby in heaven, this is the kind of game that should be on the TV, especially if you’re a Crusaders fan.

Outstanding Performance of the Year: Richie McCaw
100 Test caps as captain. It’s still a hard stat to believe because we can’t see who will ever beat it. McCaw continues to defy the clock and has looked sharper than ever this year.

Idiots of the Year: Homophobic Fans and the Tripping Dad We couldn’t split these two wastes of space apart so they both share this title. No place for either in the game.

Punch of the Year: Salesi Ma’afu The Northampton prop packs a decent jab. Tom Youngs learned new things about his face.

Man of the Year: Nathan Charles
Charles was in blinding form before injury cut him down this year, but it’s his attitude and dedication towards playing the sport despite suffering cystic fibrosis that makes him our Man of the Year.

Song of the Year: ABBA meet the Wallabies
Everyone sing together! Hoo-pa-pa, Coo-pa-pa.

Sidestep of the Year: Benito Masilevu You just shouldn’t be allowed to do that.

Hell Freezing Over Award: Richie sees yellow!
The rest of the world had a good old laugh when Richie McCaw picked up only his second EVER Test yellow card on cap 129. Fortunately the All Blacks sneaked a 51-20 win.

Dumbest play of the year: Francois Hougaard
There are a many things you could do with a penalty, but this shouldn’t be one of them:

PR Stunt of the Year: Rugby+Skiing
We’ll level with you, we come across alot of promotional videos but this one from Air New Zealand was one of our favourite Videos of the Week this year.

The Departing Legend Award: Brian O’Driscoll, Jonny Wilkinson
Never easy to say goodbye to the greats, but fittingly BOD and Wilko bowed out on the same day and both with another trophy to celebrate. You’ll be telling your grandkids about them.

Inspiration Award: Luis Ghaut
Northampton’s mascot for the Premiership Final in June, Luis was described by Saints’ players as the inspiration for their title success. Luis passed away in September this year aged 13, after being diagnosed with a rare bone cancer, osteosarcoma.

Quote of the Year: Mourad Boudjellal
Who else could it possibly be? Only Nick Cummins comes close to the Toulon boss for sound bites. The response to Sharks CEO John Smit’s challenge to a cross hemisphere showdown was a classic: “”I’ve seen Jaws 1, 2 and 3 and Sharks don’t scare me.”

Monument Award: Paul O’Connell
The veteran Munsterman’s huge performances for Ireland in November at 35 defied belief.

Hardman Award: Sam Burgess and Ma’a Nonu
We could hardly believe the news when we heard All Black centre had played for nine minutes against the Springboks in September with a broken arm. But Burgess raised the bar when he played through a fractured cheekbone in the NRL Final.

Pass of the Year:Tawera Kerr-Barlow
Have a look at the second pass here, at around 45 sec:

Gent Award: Adam Ashley-Cooper
Some men celebrate reaching a Test century quietly. Ashley-Cooper put on some cricket whites. Comedy gold.

Referee Howler Award: ‘Own Try’
We feel like there have been more clangers than ever before this year, but nothing beats this from the ARC. Seriously.

The ‘Oh Dear’ Award: Kosuke Hashino
An absolute pearler from the Sevens World Series. It still brings a tear to the eye.