Black Ferns player Kendra Cocksedge has made history by becoming the first woman to receive the top honour at the annual national rugby awards at Auckland's Sky City tonight.

Cocksedge, a halfback who represents Farah Palmer Cup champions Canterbury, was named the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial player of the year. She beat out All Blacks Richie Mo'unga, Brodie Retallick and Codie Taylor.

Cocksedge, who has played 47 tests, also won the NZ Rugby women's player of the year, the second time she has taken the award, and also the Fiao'o Faamausili Medal for the most points - awarded on a merit basis - in this year's Farah Palmer Cup.

The 30-year-old's overall win recognises her status as the top player in New Zealand and the importance of women's rugby to the country. Previous winners of the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial player of the year include Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock and Beauden Barrett.

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Black Ferns halfback Kendra Cocksedge attacks during last month's test against France in Toulon. Photo / Photosport
Black Ferns halfback Kendra Cocksedge attacks during last month's test against France in Toulon. Photo / Photosport

"It puts women's rugby on the national stage," Cocksedge said of winning the award.

"I'm hoping there's a young me out there watching and hoping to aspire to win an award like this in the future.

"It's cool for me to be able to be the person to do it and hopefully give back and give a young girl the opportunity to live the dream that I get to live."

Cocksedge was just the second woman to be nominated for the overall player of the year award; after Sevens captain Sarah Goss was named a finalist in 2017.

"It started off last year with Sarah being nominated and now myself winning it this year, it's a stepping stone and I'm pretty proud to be a part of that and to keep paving the way for the women's game in New Zealand."

Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year winner Kendra Cocksedge. Photo / Photosport
Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year winner Kendra Cocksedge. Photo / Photosport

The women's sevens team were crowned New Zealand team of the year - their first time winning the honour after twin triumphs at the Commonwealth Games and at the Rugby World Cup sevens.

Super Rugby champions the Crusaders won the inaugural national team of the year award, with Auckland head coach Alama Ieremia winning the national coach of the year award ahead of Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, who won his second title as coach in two years.

Crusaders first-five Mo'unga saw off his team-mate Matt Todd and the Chiefs' Solomon Alaimalo to win Super Rugby player of the year; Crusaders and All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor was named the Tom French Memorial Māori Player of the Year, and Crusaders and Canterbury lock Luke Romano was awarded the Duane Monkley Medal for most merit points in the Mitre 10 Cup.

New Zealand Rugby's highest recognition of an outstanding contribution to rugby, the Steinlager Salver, was awarded to All Blacks legend Waka Nathan, who was chosen by the New Zealand Rugby Board. The NZRPA David Kirk Award was presented to All Blacks centurion Keven Mealamu and Black Ferns skipper Fiao'o Faamausili for their contributions to the game off the field.

"It has been a wonderful and successful year right across rugby," NZ Rugby chairman Brent Impey said. "It has been another positive year for women's rugby particularly for the Black Ferns sevens and their continued dominance on the world stage.

Kendra Cocksedge won three awards, including the Fiao Fa'amausili Medal. Photo / Photosport
Kendra Cocksedge won three awards, including the Fiao Fa'amausili Medal. Photo / Photosport

"Kendra's award tonight is another remarkable achievement, and her utterly sublime performances in both the Black Ferns and Canterbury jerseys have clearly made her a standout individual, and she thoroughly deserves the many accolades she has received."

2018 Rugby Award winners:
Fan's Try of the year:
Chris Hala'ufia (St Peter's College)

NZ Rugby Referee of the year:
Glen Jackson (Bay of Plenty)

Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the year:
Irene Eruera-Taiapa (Horowhenua Kapiti)

NZ Rugby Age Grade Player of the year:
Tom Christie (Canterbury)

Mitre 10 Heartland Championship Player of the year:
Brett Ranga (Thames Valley)

Duane Monkley Medal:
Luke Romano (Canterbury)

Fiao'o Faamausili Medal:
Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury)

National Coach of the year:
Alama Ieremia (Auckland)

NZ Coach of the year:
Clark Laidlaw (NZ sevens)

Investec Super Rugby Player of the year:
Richie Mo'unga (Crusaders)

Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the year:
Codie Taylor (Ngati Raukawa/Muaupoko)

Richard Crawshaw Memorial Sevens player of the year:
Scott Curry (Bay of Plenty)

Black Ferns Sevens Player of the year:
Michaela Blyde (Bay of Plenty)

NZ Rugby Women's Player of the year:
Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury)

Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the year:
Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury)

National Team of the year:
Crusaders

NZ Team of the year:
Black Ferns Sevens