It's time for some end-of-year awards from Goff Rugby Report.
Some of the awards we've already given out, but we'll remind you of them, and some of them are new for December. Now, it's a weird time, really, to give awards seeing as the high school season ends in the spring, and the college season is split into two halves.
And, yes, we've got 7s thrown in there, somewhere, too. All very confusing. So we do our best (PS, these are all men's awards):
USA National Team
Player of the Year - Samu Manoa. No other player was asked to do as much for his club or his country, and no one came through as much. Mike Petri had a really strong year for the USA, and other players, too, had their moments. But this was Samu's year.
7s Player of the Year: Madison Hughes. This was a difficult one because the USA team did so well, and you could argue that various other players had excellent season, too. Very true, but Hughes was the captain, one of the key playmakers, the team's leading tackler, and just made his teammates better.
Best Moment (15s): Halftime against Scotland, when the Eagles were leading and looking like the team they could be.
Best Moment (7s): Qualifying for the Olympics. Winning London was a close, very close, second, but it would all have been for naught without the NACRA win.
Best Try: Chris Wyles v. Japan in the Rugby World Cup. (See more about this try here)
Story of the Year: Too many to count. Todd Clever's ouster, the 7s team becoming great, the World Cup's ups and downs. Plenty to write about.
Coach of the Year: Mike Friday took a USA men's 7s team that was mostly potential, and led the World Series all-time in winning the Shield (the lowest tier of the trophies) and was not pegged to win qualifiction to Rio 2016, and made them a tournament champion and a legitimate Olympic medal contender.
Spring Player: Kyle Sumsion
Spring Back: Dylan Audsley
Fall Player: Jihad Khabir
Fall Forward: Malcolm May
Best Team (15s): BYU
Best Team (7s): Cal
Upset: Lindenwood winning USA Rugby 7s championship
Best Conference: Rugby East
Best Event: ACRC Bowl Series. Obviously the CRC is a big deal and the LVI college tournament ends up with a game in front of about 30,000 people, but the ACRC Bowl Series provides a meaningful and exciting finish for (this year) 20 college rugby teams in 15s. Its payoff for the number of players involved is huge.
Game of the Year: DIA Final St. Mary's over Life
DII Players: Trace Bolstad and Andrew Buntrock
Story of the Year: We still have way too many championships at the DI level. Also, the recovery of at-risk and suspended programs, as we saw those teams re-establish themselves and come back better than ever. Also. the growth of paid coaching positions. And, related, varsity and quasi-varsity programs getting quick separation from club programs.
Coach of the Year: Jeramy Katchuba Kept a team focused despite winning big in their conference to win another national title.
Player: Steven Branham
Back: Brian Hannon
Special Honorable Mention: Jack Iscaro
Game of the Year: NorCal Club final, Danville v Granite Bay
Team of the Year: Gonzaga HS
Toughest League: Northern California
Story of the Year: Top programs realizing that they need to play across borders in order to improve, and to move up in the rankings
Game of the Year: World Cup Final
Honorable Mention: Japan v South Africa Rugby World Cup pool game, Scotland v Australia Rugby World Cup semifinal.
Most Prominent Figure Endorsing Rugby: Pope Francis
Best/Worst Rugby/Football Moment: Former USA U19 star Nate Ebner being asked to kick two unconventional onside kicks for the New England Patriots. Problem was, neither kick worked as hoped.
Biggest Story: Rugby helping football dig itself out of its concussion hole with better tackling techniques.
Best Event: Rugby World Cup
Best Evetn in USA: USA 7s in Las Vegas