They say one good round deserves another and Ruby Tui got his just reward at the World Rugby Awards in Monaco.
The New Zealand rugby star has become a global sporting success for her infectious personality and positivity and once again she took center stage again at the glitzy ceremony.
Tui, who overcame a traumatic childhood to become an Olympic and world champion, imitated Sonny Bill Williams when he presented his Rugby World Cup winner’s medal to a young fan in the crowd at Eden Park on November 12.
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But an even more heartwarming story emerged when it was revealed that the recipient, Lucia, was a leukemia survivor who met her hero Tui at a fan engagement event during the tournament.
And just as they had with Wallabies great Justin Harrison, World Rugby presented Tui with a replacement medal after she accepted the Women’s Player of the Year award.
“She had just been through a pretty tough battle with her family,” Tui said of Lucia.
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The cult hero Kiwi leads the crowd in song
“I met her father. It was super inspiring. In fact, she gave me her biggest pearl which represents bravery. So it’s my gold medal now, and I wouldn’t want it otherwise.”
Black Ferns legend Fiao’o Fa’amausili then took to the stage with the replacement medal.
“685 baby!” Tui said, referring to the Samoa area code.
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“I’m so happy right now. It was a very good surprise. Thank you very much.”
Tui’s mentor Wayne Smith has been named World Rugby Coach of the Year after surprising England in the World Cup final.
Smith orchestrated a remarkable turnaround in just seven months, winning all 12 of his Tests after inheriting a side at rock bottom.
‘The Professor’ described it as the culmination of his hugely successful coaching career.
“At first it was like taking the granddaughter and all her best friends to Disneyland,” Smith said.
“They were excited, happy, loud, and then they all found the courage to jump on the roller coaster.”
2022 WORLD RUGBY AWARDS WINNERS
World Rugby Player of the Year at 15 – Ruahei Demant (New Zealand)
Josh van der Flier (Ireland)
World Rugby Coach of the Year – Wayne Smith (New Zealand Women’s 15)
World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year – Ange Capuozzo (Italy)
World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year – Ruby Tui (New Zealand)
World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year – Terry Kennedy (Ireland)
World Rugby 7s Player of the Year – Charlotte Caslick (Australia)
World Rugby Referee Award – Tappe Henning (South Africa)
Vernon Pugh Distinguished Service Award – Dr Farah Palmer (New Zealand)
Special International Merit Award for Rugby Players – Bryan Habana (South Africa)
International Men’s Rugby Players Try of the Year – Rodrigo Fernandez (Chile vs USA)
International Women’s Rugby Try of the Year – Abby Dow (England, v Canada)
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