Genia claims Super Rugby gong
June 23, 2011
Genia saw off the challenge of Reds team-mate Quade Cooper to clinch the award © Getty Images
Nathan Sharpe talks to the media at the unveiling of the 2011 ARU Classic Wallabies Statesmen Wallabies fly-half Matt Giteau looks to lead the line during training
Reds scrum-half Will Genia has edged out team-mate Quade Cooper for the Australia's Super Rugby Player of the Year honour.
The Wallabies' No.9 took out the top award on a glorious night for the Brisbane-based Reds that saw them claim the Team of the Year gong and coach Ewen McKenzie named Australia's top coach for a record fourth time having steered his side to the Australian Conference title and top seeding in the Super Rugby Finals Series.
Genia polled 20 votes from the country's leading rugby writers over the course of the season with a man of the match performance against the Chiefs in the last round of the regular season securing him the title ahead of Cooper. Genia joins the likes of John Eales, George Smith, Stephen Larkham, Stirling Mortlock and the recently retired Phil Waugh to be named Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year since the awards inception in 1998.
McKenzie last won the award in 2008 in his final season with the Waratahs was and first awarded Coach of the Year in 2005 while at the NSW Waratahs. He then made it back-to-back awards claiming the title again in 2006. The only other coach to win the award more than twice in the award's history is McKenzie's former Wallabies team-mate David Nucifora who claimed the honour three years running from 2002-2004 while at the helm of the ACT Brumbies.
The title of Australian Super Rugby Rookie of the Year was awarded to 2011 Rebels scrum-half Nick Phipps, who adds the award to his already impressive CV, which includes a Rugby Sevens Commonwealth Games Silver Medal and Sydney University Colts Premiership trophy. Phipps, who played a role in every game for the fledgling Rebels franchise, polled seven Super Rugby Player of the Year votes including one man-of-the-match performance in Round 6 when the Rebels over ran the Hurricanes 42-25 at AAMI Stadium in Melbourne.
The Australian Super Rugby Try of the Year award, chosen by host broadcaster Fox Sports, went to the Western Force for their team effort against the Crusaders in Round 11 at nib Stadium in Perth. After picking up a spilled Crusaders ball in his own half, David Smith began the counter attack before off-loading to James O'Connor on the half way mark. O'Connor then stepped his way past a couple of Crusader's defenders before passing off to hooker Nathan Charles just outside his attacking 22.
Charles, after alluding one would be tackler, flicked a pass off to Willie Ripia who in-turn spun the ball wide to Cameron Shepherd who calmly ran around to place the ball under the black dot to complete a sensational team effort try.
Stuart Dickinson was awarded his seventh Australian Super Rugby Referee of the Year award, his fifth in as many years. The honour is given by Head of ARU's High Performance Unit, David Nucifora and ARU's National Programs Manager, Anthony Eddy.
Australian Rugby Union Managing Director and CEO, John O'Neill AO, congratulated the 2011 Award winners and said the expanded 2011 Super Rugby competition had been successful in its first season. "The 2011 Super Rugby season has been exciting and transforming and I want to congratulate all of the 2011 Australian Super Rugby award winners for their contribution to the expanded competition this year," O'Neill said.
"The new conference style format with more local derbies has proved to be a winner in 2011 with TV audiences on Fox Sports significantly up on last year. Our viewership numbers overall are also up on last year with an increase of around 28% on average per game tuning over the course of the season to enjoy some entertaining Super Rugby.
"I wish the two remaining Australian sides, the Reds and the Waratahs the best of luck in the up-coming Super Rugby Finals series and I remain confident that we will see at least one of them in the final to hopefully bringing home the Super Rugby Trophy."
Wallabies coach, Robbie Deans, said he had been impressed with the competition in 2011. "The increase in the number of local derbies has resulted in a rise in interest and delivered some entertaining and intriguing battles," Deans said.
"The fact that 4 out of the 6 finalists are potential 1st time Super Rugby winners reflects the competitiveness of the competition. Having two sides still in the hunt for the Super Rugby title is great for Australian Rugby and will hopefully provide some good momentum as we head into the international season."
Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year:
Australian Super Rugby Coach of the Year:
Austrailan Super Rugby Rookie of the Year:
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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