Michael Hooper wins second John Eales Medal

By Pete Fairbairn, 27.10.16

The Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) congratulates Michael Hooper on winning the 2016 John Eales Medal in Sydney on Thursday evening.

Hooper, a RUPA Player Delegate, played all fifteen Waratahs matches in the 2016 Super Rugby competition, the third straight season in which he has started every game for his side. Hooper also starred for Australia in their run to the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final, and played every minute during the 2016 Rugby Championship, as the Wallabies ultimately finished as runners up.

It is Hooper’s second John Eales Medal, following on from his win in 2013, joining only Israel Folau (2014 & 2015), Nathan Sharpe (2007 & 2012) and George Smith (2002 & 2008) as two-time winners’ since the award’s inception in 2002.

Click here to read fellow two-time John Eales Medal winner George Smith's tribute to Michael Hooper.

The John Eales Medal, proudly awarded jointly by RUPA and the Australian Rugby Union (ARU), honours the best Wallaby each year. Each Wallaby player in the matchday 23 votes on a 3-2-1 basis, with those votes tallied after each Test match. As has been the case since the first ever John Eales Medal, every vote has been scrutinised by Link Market Services, a long-term partner of RUPA.

RUPA Chairman Bruce Hodgkinson SC paid tribute to Hooper and the prestige of the John Eales Medal itself.

“RUPA are immensely proud to be the Co-Presenters of the John Eales Medal, which represents recognition of outstanding achievement by a Wallaby player,” Hodgkinson said.

“The collaboration demonstrated between RUPA and the ARU in coming together to award the John Eales Medal represents an important part of the continuing dialogue between the two organisations, as the players continue, through RUPA, to invest in Rugby, its structures and its future.

“The recognition of Michael Hooper’s outstanding contribution on the field, which sees him win the John Eales Medal for a second time is a fantastic achievement for him. It is an endorsement of good Rugby, and when one considers the elite crowd of only three others he joins in winning the Medal for a second time just days before his 25th birthday, it is a richly deserved honour for Michael.”

Further highlighting his outstanding form over the past thirteen months, Hooper was also crowned the Australia’s Choice Wallaby of the Year winner for the third straight season, continuing to cement his status as one of Australia’s most popular Wallabies since making his Test debut in June 2012, making a 61 appearances since.

Western Force star Dane Haylett-Petty was voted the Wallaby Rookie of the Year, after playing (and starting) all ten Test matches in the 2016 calendar year thus far, scoring two tries in the process. That came on the back of arguably his greatest Super Rugby season yet, the 27-year old missing just ten minutes of the Western Force’s season as he joined Hooper in the Volvo People’s Choice Team of the Year.

Haylett-Petty is one of thirteen players to make their Wallaby debut during the period of John Eales Medal eligibility, with Taqele Naiyaravoro and Toby Smith debuting in Chicago last September before Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Nick Frisby, Reece Hodge, Leroy Houston, Samu Kerevi, Sefanaia Naivalu, Tom Robertson and Lopeti Timani broke through in 2016.

There were a number of other RUPA members whose achievements were recognised.

In the year in which Rugby Sevens made its debut at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Charlotte Caslick and Ed Jenkins were awarded the Women’s and Men’s Rugby Sevens Player of the Year awards respectively, both named in honour of the late Shawn Mackay.

Caslick starred for Australia as the Women’s team won their first ever World Series and Olympic Gold, being named in the Tournament Dream Team at three of the five World Series events and at the Olympics, where she scored a total of seven tries.

Jenkins, the Captain of the Men’s team and a RUPA Player Director, again led by example as he played six World Series events on the way to securing a fourth placed finish, being named in the Tournament Dream Team in Sydney, before leading Australia to the Olympic Games where they finished eighth.

Melbourne Rebels stars Sean McMahon and Reece Hodge were rewarded for their outstanding Super Rugby form, with McMahon winning the Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year as he missed just one game and led his side on multiple occasions when regular skipper Nic Stirzaker was injured. Hodge scored nine tries and 63 points in total for the Rebels in their maiden campaign, off the back of a successful 20156 Buildcorp NRC with the Rays.

Irae Simone, who has signed with the Waratahs for the 2917 Super Rugby season, capped an outstanding maiden NRC campaign by winning the Player of the Year for his form in the centres for the Sydney Rays, while Nick Frisby and Drew Mitchell won the Super Rugby and Wallaby Try of the Year awards.

The Brumbies won Australian Super Rugby Team of the Year after winning the Australian Conference, with Stephen Larkham winning the Coach of the Year prize, while Melbourne Rebels recruit Tyrel Lomax was awarded the Australian U20’s Player of the Year award.

RUPA congratulates all of those honoured at the 2016 John Eales Medal.

Full list of Award Winners, 2016 John Eales Medal:

John Eales Medal: Michael Hooper
Wallaby Rookie of the Year: Dane Haylett-Petty
Super Rugby Player of the Year: Sean McMahon (Melbourne Rebels)
Super Rugby Rookie of the Year: Reece Hodge (Melbourne Rebels)
Shawn Mackay Women’s Rugby Sevens Player of the Year: Charlotte Caslick
Shawn Mackay Men’s Rugby Sevens Player of the Year: Ed Jenkins
Buildcorp NRC Player of the Series: Irae Simone (Sydney Rays)
Australian U20’s Player of the Year: Tyrel Lomax
Australia’s Choice Wallaby of the Year: Michael Hooper
Super Rugby Team of the Year: Brumbies
Super Rugby Coach of the Year: Stephen Larkham
Wallaby Try of the Year (most responsible): Drew Mitchell (try scored by Adam Ashley-Cooper)
Super Rugby Try of the Year (most responsible): Nick Frisby (Reds)
Women’s XVs Player of the Year: Ash Hewson
Hall of Fame Inductees:  Jack Ford, Peter Johnson, John Solomon
Volunteer of the Year: Deon Norval
Young Volunteer of the Year: Hayden Croghan
Lifetime Volunteer of the Year: Dougal Whitton
Roger Vanderfield Referee of the Year: Angus Gardner                  
Super Rugby Referee of the Year: Angus Gardner            
Nick Farr Jones Spirit of Rugby Award: Megan & Anthony Elliot                  
Joe French Award: Alec Evans   
Geoff Shaw Community Coach of the Year Award: Kylie Dawson   

Full List of John Eales Medal winners:

2002 – George Smith
2003 – Phil Waugh
2004 – David Lyons
2005 – Jeremy Paul
2006 – Chris Latham
2007 – Nathan Sharpe
2008 – George Smith
2009 – Matt Giteau
2010 – David Pocock
2011 – Kurtley Beale
2012 – Nathan Sharpe
2013 – Michael Hooper
2014 – Israel Folau
2015 – Israel Folau
2016 – Michael Hooper

Pete Fairbairn
Communications Manager
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