Kieran Read has beaten off the challenges of fellow All Blacks Richie McCaw and Brad Thorn to be named player of the year at this year's national rugby awards function at Auckland.

Read, who played at a consistently high level in 2010, was a rock at the back of the scrum for the Crusaders and All Blacks and ably led the Crusaders as captain for the early part of the Super Rugby season.

He was also a finalist for the Super 14 Player of the Year award, which went to Blues and All Blacks halfback Alby Mathewson.

In another close contest, the Black Ferns emerged as the team of the year for the first time after winning the World Cup for a fourth straight time in England in September.

Try-scoring sensation Carla Hohepa took out the women's player of the year title to add to her International Rugby Union personality of the year award.

Gordon Tietjens was recognised for guiding his New Zealand sevens team to a fourth consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal by being named coach of the year.

Tietjens headed off a field which included All Blacks coach Graham Henry, New Zealand under-20s coach Dave Rennie, New Zealand Maori coach Jamie Joseph and Black Ferns coach Brian Evans.

Other awards went to New Zealand under-20 and Auckland lock Liaki Moli for age grade player of the year, Kurt Baker was sevens player of the year and Hosea Gear capped off a barnstorming year to be named the Maori player of the year.

Canterbury's powerhouse centre Robbie Fruean won the player of the year for the domestic championship and the Heartland Championship player of the year award went to Wanganui's Peter Rowe, who has been named four times in the Heartland 15.

Veteran broadcaster Keith Quinn was also recognised with an award for outstanding contribution to New Zealand rugby.

A special tribute was paid to McCaw, the world player of the year, and Mils Muliaina on their new joint test cap record of 94, set during an unbeaten tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The event also took a moment to acknowledge all those lost in the Pike River Mine disaster and their families and local communities, with special recognition paid to Michael Monk, Riki Keane and Blair Sims, who played their rugby this year with the Blaketown Club in Greymouth.

Full list of the winners of the 2010 national rugby awards:
NZRU age grade player of the year: Liaki Moli (Auckland, New Zealand under-20)

Sevens player of the year: Kurt Baker (Taranaki, New Zealand)

Referee of the year: Bryce Lawrence

Women's player of the year: Carla Hohepa (Otago, Black Ferns)

Volunteer of the year: Hilton Williams (Horowhenua Kapiti)

Super 14 player of the year: Alby Mathewson (Wellington, Blues, All Blacks)

Maori player of the year: Hosea Gear - Ngati Porou (Wellington, Hurricanes, New Zealand Maori, All Blacks)

Heartland Championship player of the year: Peter Rowe (Wanganui, Heartland 15)

Domestic championship player of the year: Robbie Fruean (Canterbury)

Team of the year: Black Ferns

Coach of the year: Gordon Tietjens (New Zealand Sevens)

Outstanding contribution to New Zealand rugby: Keith Quinn

Kelvin R Tremain Memorial player of the year: Kieran Read (Canterbury, Crusaders, All Blacks).

- NZPA