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2015 Awards!

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2015 Awards!

HS Game of the Year. Daniel Bandoni photo.

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.

 

Overall

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.

 

 

College

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. 

 

High School

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

 

International

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