Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Pasifika stars shine at the 2023 World Rugby Awards

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

All Blacks Ardie Savea received the World Rugby Men’s 15 Player of the Year Award. Photo: World Rugby.
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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

Despite not clinching the Webb Ellis trophy this year, the All Blacks can celebrate Ardie Savea and Mark Telea’s victories at the 2023 World Rugby Awards.

All Blacks players Ardie Savea and Mark Telea were crowned recipients for two major awards at the 2023 World Rugby Awards ceremony.

Savea was awarded the World Rugby Mens 15’s player of the year whilst Telea received the World Rugby Mens 15’s Breakthrough player of the year award. 

The ceremony took place just hours after the Springboks had clinched a hard fought victory over the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup final making it the fourth time the South Africans have won the top prize.

However, despite the loss, both Savea and Telea were honoured and humbled to be both recognised for their efforts this year.

“It’s very special. Very blessed and grateful to be up here,” Savea spoke when receiving his award. 

“I guess for an individual to stand out; it’s based on the foundation of the team. A massive shout-out to Foz (Ian Foster), skip (captain, Sam Cane) and my brothers this year and the last couple of years, and the journey we’ve been through. 

Photo: World Rugby 2023.

“I wouldn’t say I’m in the same category as those guys (previous winners of the award from New Zealand) – they’re legends, but I just try to go out there, fulfil the black jersey and give my best. That’s all I can do and I have 14 other brothers next to me doing the same thing.” 

Savea may have narrowly failed to join his brother Julian as a Rugby World Cup winner, but the number eight has been the standout performer for the All Blacks in 2023, starting all but one of New Zealand’s 12 tests and six in France in 2023. 

The 30-year-old’s tireless work-rate often makes it appear there is more than one of him on the pitch and his presence within the New Zealand squad is widely respected by not only his teammates but his fellow opponents across the world stage.

Mark Tele’a received the World Rugby Men’s 15 Breakthrough Player of the Year Award. Photo: (L-R) Blues Rugby & World Rugby.

Fellow teammate Tele’a echoed Savea’s thoughts, as he collected his award after an amazing season with club and international duties.

Tele’a burst onto the international scene with a double against Scotland at Murrayfield last November and hasn’t looked back, scoring six tries in nine tests for the All Blacks. 

It took less than two minutes for the winger to cross for the opening try of Rugby World Cup 2023, one of two he scored against hosts France that night. 

Tele’a started four of New Zealand’s matches at the RWC and proved a constant threat across the pitch with  his evasive and slippery line breaks. Having only just made his mark this year, he is definitely a superstar for the future.

“I am truly grateful to be part of this team,” Tele’a said when receiving his award.

“To my teammates, they put in the right parts of the field to beat defenders. I guess just to sum up this year, it was just the opportunity given and I just took it with two hands and just kept going with it.”

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