All Blacks, Dan Carter win Laureus awards

By Kris Shannon in Berlin

They have proven nearly unbeatable in the rugby world and now the All Blacks have seen off the very best of every other code.

The Rugby World Cup champions this morning extended their dominance to a truly global scale, collecting the team of the year trophy at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin.

The award capped off a breakthrough evening for the All Blacks, after Dan Carter earlier in the night claimed the comeback of the year award.

Possessing a success rate of more than 90 per cent in the last four years and having become the first team to claim back-to-back World Cups, the All Blacks could be forgiven for becoming a little weary of the repetitive winning.

Except, that is, for the fact this morning was their first taste of success at the Laureus Awards, having walked away empty-handed on five previous occasions.

But the full weight of their achievements was unable to be ignored this year, beating out the likes of Barcelona and the Golden State Warriors to find themselves on top of the world.

Captain Richie McCaw and coach Steve Hansen picked up their prize at a star-studded ceremony at Messe Berlin, receiving the trophy from Germany's World Cup-winning coach Joachim Loew and former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick.

"To win this award is pretty special," McCaw said. "We're a little country from a long way away and just to be nominated and be among people like you is pretty amazing.

"The fact you're recognised alongside teams like Barcelona is pretty cool. When I was in America, when I had time off in 2013, I went to watch the Golden State Warriors versus the New York Knicks and [Stephen] Curry scored 50-something points on his own.

Listen: The Crowd Goes Wild Breakfast interviews Richie McCaw and Steve Hansen

"Then a couple of years later you see him dominate and win the NBA, so it's pretty surreal really to be mixing alongside some of these superstars."

Along with the NBA's defending-champion Warriors and FC Barcelona - winners of four trophies in 2015 - the All Blacks proved too strong for Great Britain's Davis Cup-winning squad, Formula 1 team Mercedes AMG Petronas and the World Cup-winning United States women's football side.

McCaw thought it was a sign of rugby's increasing influence in world sport.

"People say rugby's a big sport for us but no so big on a global scale, but it's obviously big enough where the exploits of what the All Blacks do are recognised," he said. "The success rate we have is pretty hard to compare to other teams around the world and I think that's something that's been recognised and something that we hold pretty strong."

The All Blacks were the third rugby side to claim the Laureus team of the year award, with England (2004) and South Africa (2008) both honoured after winning their respective World Cups.

Both Carter and the team take their place alongside Sir Peter Blake - a lifetime achievement award winner in 2002 - and Levi Sherwood - action sportsperson of the year in 2011 - as Kiwis to fly on world sport's greatest stage.


COMEBACK OF THE YEAR

Carter was honoured for his efforts in leading the All Blacks to the Rugby World Cup in 2015, an achievement that followed the personal disappointment in 2011.

The 33-year-old beat out a trio of former Olympic gold medallists in Jessica Ennis-Hill, Michael Phelps, and David Rudisha, becoming the third New Zealander after Sir Peter Blake and Levi Sherwood to claim a Laureus award.

Carter was unable to attend the glittering ceremony in Berlin, nursing a tweaked knee ahead of Racing Metro's Champions Cup semifinal against Leicester this weekend, but remotely received yet another trophy.

After being awarded man of the match in the final, Carter was named both World Rugby player of the year and BBC overseas sports personality of the year, before being pipped for sportsman of the year at the Halbergs.

But given the rarity of such a prize, the Laureus statue will surely assume a prime place on the Carter mantlepiece in Paris.

"It's a privilege to receive such a prestigious award," Carter said via video message. "It was a very special year for me in 2015, especially after the injury setbacks I've had over the last couple of years.

Video

"I'd like to say a huge thank you to friends, family, management and teammates for showing faith in me and allowing me to live my dream."

And Carter had a special message for Richie McCaw, who collected the award on his former teammate's behalf.

"Richie, please get the trophy home safely."

'ACADEMY AWARDS FOR SPORT'

The All Blacks and awards have been consistent companions in recent years. The latest recognition has staggered a contingent who attended the prestigious Laureus Awards.

NZR boss Steve Tew marveled at the number of global sports stars in the room as the All Blacks collected the team of the year award to go alongside Daniel Carter's comeback success.

The awards, he said, were much bigger than people understood at home, they were like the Academy awards for sport and raised an enormous amount of money for charity.

"I think both Richie (McCaw) and Steve (Hansen ) summed it up over the last 24 hours, just to be in this company is something quite special and to win the final accolade is even more amazing for this group of men who did such a great job for us."

2016 Laureus World Sports Awards:

Sportsman of the Year
Novak Djokovic (Serbia), tennis.

Sportswoman of the Year
Serena Williams (US), tennis.

Team of the Year
All Blacks (New Zealand), rugby.

Breakthrough of the Year
Jordan Spieth (US), golf.

Comeback of the Year
Dan Carter (New Zealand).

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
Daniel Dias (Brazil), swimming.

Action Sportsperson of the Year
Jan Frodeno (Germany), ironman.

- NZ Herald

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