McCaw scoops NZ rugby player of the year award

By HARRIS CHOY of NZPA

All Black Richie McCaw, widely regarded as the best openside flanker in the world, won the New Zealand Rugby Union player of the year award in Auckland tonight.

He won the Kel Tremain Trophy at the union's annual awards dinner at the Aotea Centre.

The All Blacks were named team of the year despite their failure to win the World Cup.

They won both the Tri-Nations and the Bledisloe Cup earlier in the year.

Sir Brian Lochore, the only coach to lead the All Blacks to a World Cup win (1987), received the Steinlager Salver for his outstanding contribution to New Zealand rugby.

McCaw's All Blacks teammate at the World Cup, Carlos Spencer, scooped two awards.

He won the Super 12 player of the year and the Tom French Memorial Maori player of the year.

The awards reflected Auckland's winning effort in the NPC first division.

Auckland coach Wayne Pivac took the coach of the year and Iliesa Tanivula the NPC player of the year.

Auckland's Monalisa Codling was awarded the women's player of the year.

North Harbour's Eric Rush, the longtime New Zealand sevens captain, took the sevens player of the year.

The awards ceremony recognised the fine performances by referees, administrators and volunteers as well.

In Lochore's case, his contribution to the game since he made the All Blacks in 1963.

He had an outstanding career both as a player and coach, playing 86 games - including 25 tests - for the All Blacks between 1963 and '71, and was captain in 18 tests for 15 wins and three losses.

He coached Wairarapa-Bush to first division within two seasons of taking the coach's job.

In 1983 he became a national selector and All Blacks coach in 1985 before guiding the All Blacks to the first World Cup win in Auckland.

Lochore was also cup campaign manager in 1995, when the All Blacks lost in the final to the Springboks in South Africa under Laurie Mains.

Full list of award winners tonight.-

Player of the year: Richie McCaw (Canterbury)

Memorial Maori player of the year: Carlos Spencer (Auckland)

Super 12 player of the year: Carlos Spencer (Blues)

Sevens player of the year: Eric Rush (North Harbour)

Coach of the year: Wayne Pivac (Auckland)

Team of the year: All Blacks

NPC division one player of the year: Iliesa Tanivula (Auckland)

Division two player of the year: Davis Norman (Hawke's Bay)

Division three player of the year: JJ Walker (Wanganui)

Women's player of the year: Monalisa Codling (Auckland)

Age-grade player of the year: Ben Atiga (Auckland)

Referee of the year: Paddy O'Brien (Southland)

Volunteer of the year: Ru Rangi (Wellington)

Outstanding contribution to New Zealand rugby: Sir Brian Lochore.

- NZPA

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