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Gregan, Mortlock up for Aussie rugby medal

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The Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) in Australia has announced the finalists for the prestigious Rugby Medal for Excellence to be presented by former Wallaby Captain Andrew Slack at the RUPA Christmas Lunch in Sydney on December 8.


George Gregan is in line to capture his third Rugby Medal For Excellence but faces stiff competition from incumbent Wallaby Stirling Mortlock, NSW Waratahs hooker Adam Freier and Queensland Reds flanker, David Croft.


Gregan, Mortlock, Freier and Croft have been short-listed to receive the prestigious award and the winner will be announced at the Rugby Union Players Association’s 2006 Investec Rugby Players Christmas Luncheon on Friday, December 8.


All 132 RUPA members from the ACT Brumbies, Western Force, NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds were eligible to vote on a 3-2-1 basis prior the recent Wallaby spring tour of the United Kingdom, Italy and Ireland.


Players were asked to vote for a fellow player who they believed excelled on and off the field in 2006 in areas of performance, leadership, consistency and discipline plus their contribution to charitable work, vocational skills and their commitment to the development of the game.


Gregan is a two-time winner of the Medal For Excellence having received the inaugural honour in 2001 and again in 2004. He was last year joined by Wallaby lock Nathan Sharpe as a two-time Medal recipient.


Mortlock became Australia’s 73rd Test captain this year when leading the Wallabies to victory over England in Melbourne before skippering the team on the recent Wallaby tour.


Freier also enjoyed an outstanding season taking out the Matthew Burke Cup as NSW Player of the Year but ruptured the medial ligament in his left foot when playing for Australia against England.


Croft enjoyed an outstanding season for the Reds, playing in every game, and represented Australia A against Fiji and the landmark Prime Minister’s XV against Japan.


RUPA Chief Executive, Mr Tony Dempsey, said the Medal for Excellence is a unique award in Australian sport and one of the most prestigious awards in Australian rugby.


“Unlike other awards, the Rugby Medal For Excellence recognises the players on-field prowess as well as their leadership, general behaviour, charitable work and commitment to the development of the game,” he added.


“What makes this Award even more special is that the winner is judged by his peers – his fellow professional players.”


“There can be no higher accolade than to be recognised and rewarded for your excellence by your fellow players,” added Mr Dempsey.


The Medal For Excellence will be presented by 1984 Grand Slam winning captain, Andrew Slack.
The luncheon will also see RUPA announce the inaugural winner of the RUPA Newcomer of the Year Award.


The Award is open to all first year contracted players and the 2006 finalists are Queensland fly-half Berrick Barnes and Brumbies twin brothers Anthony and Saia Faingaa.


Monies raised from the 2006 Investec Rugby Players Christmas Luncheon will go to the Ian Tucker Foundation.


Ian Tucker was a former Northern Suburbs (Sydney), Oxford University and Australian under 19 and 21 player whose life was cut short when he made a tackle that resulted in an injury to his brain from which he did not recover.


The mission of the Foundation is to celebrate Tucker’s life by raising awareness of sports-related brain injuries and supporting institutions that work to prevent and understand the effects of such injuries.


The Rugby Medal For Excellence Honour Roll is:
2001 – George Gregan
2002 – Nathan Sharpe
2003 – Brendan Cannon
2004 – George Gregan
2005 – Nathan Sharpe


Medal for Excellence Finalist Profiles


David Croft


David is a senior member of the Queensland Reds squad and enjoyed possibly his finest playing season to date.


He

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