Nick Cummins wins Medal for Excellence
December 12, 2013
Greg Growden and Russell Barwick review the Australian rugby year that was
RUPA Medal of Excellence Honour Roll
Nick Cummins ended the year in blistering form © Getty Images
Nick Cummins has upstaged Israel Folau and Michael Hooper to claim the Rugby Union Players Association's highest honour, the Western Force and Australia winger receiving the 2013 Medal for Excellence at the players union's annual awards in Sydney on Wednesday.
The medal recognises not only on-field performances but also an individual's contribution to the community, and their efforts in furthering their education. Australian Super Rugby players voted on a 3-2-1, with Cummins rewarded for his blistering form on the end-of-year tour, his charity work, and his perseverance after an injury-plagued domestic season.
Hooper - who was favoured to add the award to the John Eales Medal and New South Wales Waratahs and Australian Super Rugby player of the year awards - Folau and Brumbies and Wallabies playmaker Christian Leali'ifano were the other three finalists. But Cummins upstaged them all to become the fourth consecutive winner from Western Force, after former team-mates David Pocock (2010) and Nathan Sharpe (2011 and 2012). He also joins Wallabies all-time greats George Gregan and George Smith on the honour roll.
Cummins, 26, played just six matches for the Force in the 2013 Super Rugby season before starring on the Wallabies' tour of Europe. He was named man of the match in the Wallabies' first Test of the tour, against England, and backed up with a brace of tries against Italy and another crucial score against Ireland.
The crowd favourite affectionately known as the "Honey Badger" also had a busy year off the field, participating in numerous Western Force community events and undertaking charity work with Ronald McDonald House.
Folau was named RUPA Newcomer of the Year, a week after he was named the International Rugby Players Association's International Newcomer of the Year for his dream debut season in the code. Folau also picked up the People's Choice Player of the Year for 2013, after voting for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards was turned over to the public to select who they felt was worthy of being named the player of the year. Folau claimed the prize from Hooper and Quade Cooper.
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