Team captain James Parsons was honoured with the Most Valuable Player award at the 2016 Blues Awards, held at SKYCITY on Monday night.
The entire Blues organisation voted for the player who they judged to be the most consistent performer during the Super Rugby season. Parsons stepped up to captain the team early in the season and has started every game this season, bar one coming off the bench.
He was also recognised as Media Personality of the Year for his commitment to representing the Blues vision and values behind the microphone and on screen.
The Blues Awards were a glamorous night for our players, most of whom are accustomed to running out on green grass, not walking on the blue carpet. The evening was hosted by Scotty Stevenson and included a recap of the season’s highlights, as well as the annual awards.
The evening acknowledged many milestones for our players including Josh Bekhuis’s Super Rugby century, Quentin MacDonald’s 50 Super Rugby caps, and Steven Luatua and George Moala’s 50 Blues caps. There was also special mention of the 11 new Blues players who began their Blues careers this season: Male Sa’u, Kara Pryor, Billy Guyton, Matt Duffie, Sam Nock, Rieko Ioane, Hoani Matenga, Piers Francis, Namatahi Waa, Tanerau Latimer and Gerard Cowley-Tuioti each earned their first Blues cap in 2016.
The 2016 Player in the Community award, presented by Nestle, was awarded to Matt Moulds, a player who has sought out opportunities to connect with people in the community this season and, in doing so, has demonstrated the Blues’ values and culture.
Our Blues Development programme for 2016 has seen a number of stand-out performers, both at a regional, national and international level. The Westie Pies Development Player of the Year was awarded to the Development team captain Dalton Papalii, who has represented the Blues’ Development teams, as well as the New Zealand Under-20 team that competed at the World Rugby Under 20 Championships in Manchester, England.
2016 saw a number of new players step up into the Super Rugby level and make quite the impact. This year’s Rookie of the Year award, presented by nib, was awarded to Piers Francis, who earned 10 caps throughout the season.
The Club Person of the Year, presented by Barfoot & Thompson, is an award that recognises a member of the Blues club that represents our values and shows commitment to the organisation and its goals. Sam Prattley has been recognised as a player who makes a significant contribution to the Blues’ culture by being collaborative, constructive and supportive. He was awarded with the Mealamu Medal, which was first introduced in 2015.
After each Super Rugby round this season, we’ve given our fans a chance to vote for their player of the match. Each round’s winners were then nominees for the SKYCITY Player of the Year award, with fans once again given the chance to vote for their favourite player of the season. This year’s award went to Lolagi Visinia for his performance against the Jaguares in Round Six.
The Coaches’ Player of the Year award, presented by BNZ, went to a player who demonstrated professionalism, skill, capability and coachability in his role. Josh Bekhuis was presented the award for not only leading in the lineout, but also for taking on a strong leadership role on the team and taking up the mantle of team DJ.