Monday, February 06, 2012

Rugby: All Blacks and Crusaders up for global awards

The Crusaders and the All Blacks are both up for Laureus sports awards at what will be a glittering affair in London early on Tuesday morning.

The Crusaders have been nominated for Comeback of the Year following their efforts in making the final of the 2011 Super Rugby competition, despite the earthquakes in Christchurch, which ruled out the use of their home AMI Stadium and sent them on the road for the entire season.

The All Blacks have been nominated for World Team of the Year after winning the World Cup which put an end to a 24-year drought following their victory in the inaugural tournament in 1987.

In front of an audience which will include sporting personalities such as former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick, boxer Marvin Hagler and gymnast Nadia Comeneci, the two New Zealand teams face tough competition.

Up against the Crusaders are the Queensland Reds, who won the Super title at Suncorp Stadium despite the floods earlier in the year in the Brisbane region which killed 35 people, as well as French footballer Eric Abidal, golfers Darren Clarke and Sergio Garcia and Chinese hurdler Liu Xian.

Abidal last year recovered from surgery to remove a tumour on his liver to help Barcelona win the Champions League final over Manchester United. Irishman Clarke won The Open Championship aged 42 after 20 years of trying and following the death of his wife Heather in 2006. Spaniard Garcia won two successive European tour events after a three-year stretch without a win, and Liu fought back from the disappointment of having to pull out of the 110m hurdles at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, due to a hamstring strain, by placing second at the Daegu world championships.

In the Team of the Year award, the All Blacks face Champions League and Spanish League winners Barcelona, the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, the England cricket team, Japan women's football team and Red Bull motor racing team.

The Mavericks won their first ever NBA championship, England's cricketers became world No 1 after their Ashes win in Australia and beating India 4-0. Japan were the first Asian team to win women's World Cup, and Austrian motor racing team Red Bull won their second straight Formula 1 constructors' world championship.
The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation supports 91 community sports projects around the world.

The All Blacks are also up for the Halberg Awards Team of the Year in Auckland on Thursday night (Feb 9). That is an awards evening likely to be dominated by rugby, with All Blacks' coach Graham Henry nominated for Coach of the Year and captain Richie McCaw up for Sportsman of the Year.

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