Super Rugby players from across the country have elevated Emirates Western Force captain Nathan Sharpe into rare company with the star lock taking out the Rugby Union Players’ Association ‘Medal for Excellence’ for a third time.
Voting for the Medal for Excellence is undertaken by all Australian based professionals and shows the esteem in which Sharpe is held by those not just at the Emirates Western Force but throughout the nation.
In his 14th Super Rugby campaign Sharpe surpassed former Brumbies playmaker George Gregan as the most capped Super Rugby player in history, across all three SANZAR countries, and joins the star scrumhalf as the only player to be presented with the Medal for Excellence on three occasions.
In another season in which his leadership and consistency was instrumental in the west, Sharpe also broke the club’s long standing consecutive appearance record when he played his 53rd straight match in ocean blue.
Emirates Western Force players dominated the RUPA Awards by taking home three of the four categories on offer with loose forward pair Matt Hodgson and David Pocock recognised in the areas of academia and community service.
Pocock, who was also nominated for the Medal for Excellence, an award he won in 2010, took home the RUPA ‘Foundation Community Service’. The star backrower is dedicated to helping those less fortunate and his efforts through charity EightyTwenty Vision, which he helped form in 2009, have transformed many lives in his native country of Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, Hodgson has shown that not only is he a star on the field but is also a role model in preparing for life outside of rugby through his dedication to education and professional development. Hodgson completed a Bachelor of Exercise Science & Sports Management in 2009 and in the years since has also finished a Real Estate Sales Agent course and is enrolled in a Masters of Business Management (Sports Law) at Deacon University.
RUPA ‘Medal for Excellence’ winners:
2001 – George Gregan
2002 – Nathan Sharpe
2003 – Brendan Cannon
2004 – George Gregan
2005 – Nathan Sharpe
2006 – George Gregan
2007 – George Smith
2008 – George Smith
2009 – Berrick Barnes
2010 – David Pocock
2011 – Nathan Sharpe