When Kiwi rugby fans look back on 2019, it will be remembered for two things – an early All Blacks exit from the Rugby World Cup, and the rise of Ardie Savea.
The Hurricanes and All Blacks loose forward took 2019 by storm at both club and country levels, capping off the year being named the Kelvin R Tremain memorial award for Player of the Year at tonight's New Zealand Rugby awards.
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The 26-year-old, who was unable to attend the event after undergoing knee surgery earlier in the day, claimed three awards on the night, being named Super Rugby Player of the Year and All Blacks Player of the Year as well as claiming the supreme award.
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Savea reached a new level of play in 2019, starting eight of the All Blacks' 10 tests. A monster presence on both sides of the ball, Savea made the most of his opportunities to display his dominance with ball in hand as well as an impressive ability to secure turnovers at the breakdown.
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson was named National Coach of the Year and said although he was disappointed in missing out on the role as All Blacks head coach, he was looking forward to the upcoming campaign with the Crusaders.
"There's always a natural process as a human, there's a natural disappointment because I've put everything in to it," Robertson said.
"I'm coaching the team I love, where I've had a lot of great moments as a player and now as a coach, I've got a lot of special bonds and a chance to do something pretty special."
Tyla Nathan-Wong was named Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year, while skipper Sarah Hirini became the first woman to take home the the Tom French Memorial Māori Player of the Year award.
Black Ferns Sevens co-coaches Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney were named New Zealand Coaches of the Year, and the Black Ferns Sevens were crowned the New Zealand Team of the Year for a second consecutive year.
2019 New Zealand Rugby award winners
Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year: Ardie Savea
Richard Crawshaw Memorial All Blacks Sevens Player of the Year Winner: Tone Ng Shiu (Tasman)
Black Ferns Player of the Year Winner: Charmaine McMenamin (Auckland)
All Blacks Player of the Year Winner: Ardie Savea (Hurricanes)
New Zealand Coach of the Year Winner: Cory Sweeney and Allan Bunting (Black Ferns Sevens)
New Zealand Team of the Year Winner: Black Ferns Sevens
National Coach of the Year Winner: Scott Robertson (Crusaders)
Super Rugby Player of the Year Winner: Ardie Savea (Hurricanes)
Tom French Memorial Māori Player of the Year Winner: Sarah Hirini (Ngāti Kahungunu)
New Zealand Rugby Referee of the Year Winner: Paul Williams
Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year Winner: Ian Spraggon (Bay of Plenty
New Zealand Rugby Age Grade Player of the Year winner: Fletcher Newell (Canterbury)
Heartland Championship Player of the Year Winner: Josh Clark (North Otago)
Duane Monkley Medal Winner: Chase Tiatia (Bay of Plenty)
Fiao'o Faamausili Medal Winner: Chelsea Bremner (Canterbury Women)
Sevens Player of the Year Winner: Tyla Nathan-Wong (Auckland)
National Team of the Year Winner: Crusaders
NZRPA Kirk Award Winners: Josh Blackie, Seilala Mapusua & Hale T-Pole
Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand Rugby: Steve Tew
Fan's Try of the Year: TJ Perenara