James Blackwell named Wellington Lions Player of the Year

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Lions lock James Blackwell has been named Wellington Player of the Year at the 2018 Wellington Representative Rugby Awards.

On a night that saw Wellington Rugby recognise the union’s highest performing teams, players and coaches, Lions head coach Chris Gibbes scooped the Coach of the Year award for a second year running after guiding his side to the premiership semi-finals.

Blackwell was awarded the newly named Graham Williams Memorial Cup, in honour of the late flanker who made a record 174 appearances for the union, after a season that saw him show some of his best and most consistent form in all aspects of the game.

Gibbes has continued to guide the Lions up the national pecking order a year after taking them to Mitre 10 Cup championship victory and promotion in 2017.

Under his guidance, and that of assistants Andre Bell and Cory Jane, the Lions finished fourth in the premiership after round robin play in the Mitre 10 Cup and will meet Auckland in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Gibbes was awarded the 2017 Bill Freeman Memorial Coach of the Year Award.

The 2017 Player of the Year, Jackson Garden-Bachop has been recognised as the Wellington Rugby Supporter’s Club Player of the Year in 2018, after another impressive season which has seen his game mature even more.

Exciting young prop Xavier Numia was named Lions Rookie of the Year. The New Zealand Under-20 representative earned a regular starting spot through his performances off the bench and showed he was a real player for the future.

The Wellington Pride, who finished the regular season on top of the Farah Palmer Cup championship and will host the final against Otago on Saturday, were named Team of the Year.

Under the guidance of coach Ross Bond, the Pride have been in great form for the majority of the season and will start Saturday's final as favourites.

Pride Rookie of the Year was awarded to loose forward Nina Foaese while senior player and captain Jackie Patea-Fereti was named the Pride Player of the Year for a second straight year underlining her importance to the side.

No 8 Luke Tau'alupe was named Development Team Player of the Year while loose forward Shamus Langton was the Under-19 Player of the Year.

Wellington Representative Rugby Awards 2018 Winners

Wellington Lions Player of the Year (Graham Williams Memorial Cup)
James Blackwell

Wellington Pride Player of the Year
Jackie Patea-Fereti

Wellington Lions Rookie of the Year
Xavier Numia

Wellington Pride Rookie of the Year
Nina Foaese

Wellington Supporters Club Player of the Year
Jackson Garden-Bachop  – Wellington Lions

Bill Freeman Memorial Coach of the Year
Chris Gibbes – Wellington Lions

Festival Cup Winner
Wellington Cenurions

Wellington Development Team Player of the Year
Luke Tau'alupe

Wellington U19 Player of the Year
Shamus Langton

Wellington U18 Girls Player of the Year
Precious Auimatagi

Wellington U16 Player of the Year
Riley Higgins

Al Keown Memorial Cup
Awarded to the best performing rugby player in the 2018 Wellington Rugby Academy
Naitoa Ah Kuoi

Ken Comber Memorial Cup
Awarded to the player who best embraced the Academy philosophy
Josh Southall