All Blacks dominate awards night

THEY won rugby's greatest prize 24 hours earlier, and the All Blacks' golden run continued last night as the team won two of the top International Rugby Board awards.

The glitziest night in rugby came to Auckland as 1300 guests in their most glamorous dresses and swankiest tuxes walked the red carpet into Vector Arena.

The All Blacks had a night to match their tournament. They were named Team of the Year, and Graham Henry the Coach of the Year.

France captain Thierry Dusautoir was rewarded for an outstanding campaign and man-of-the-match performance in the final by being named Player of the Year.

All Blacks Jerome Kaino, Piri Weepu and Ma'a Nonu were also nominated for the award.

After receiving his award, Henry said that in 2007, the pain of World Cup defeat got worse as the weeks went on. "It's going to get better this time."

Former NZRU chairman Jock Hobbs, who has leukemia, was presented with the Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service.

Hobbs, who arrived flanked by family, was instrumental in securing for NZ the hosting rights for this year's tournament and was given a standing ovation.

He told the ceremony the All Blacks' victory meant a great deal to New Zealand rugby, but the tournament had gone beyond that.

"The Rugby World Cup has engaged, galvanised, brought together the country in what has been a pretty tough 12 months."

All Black legend Jonah Lomu made a surprise appearance to be inducted into the IRB's Hall of Fame.

Last month, Lomu was admitted to Auckland City Hospital and is undergoing tests to see if his failing kidney can be revived.

Lomu said he wasn't able to wear a tie to the event because he has two holes in his neck for daily dialysis.

He couldn't tell people how his health was because the doctors couldn't give him an answer.

But Lomu said his greatest memory of the tournament would be being with his family to see the All Blacks win the final.

The All Blacks were last to arrive, at 7pm.

Led by captain Richie McCaw clutching the now-familiar Webb Ellis Cup, many still bore the scars of the final on their faces.

The French team had earlier arrived in high spirits, with the players forming a gauntlet to clap Dusautoir up the red carpet.

IRB Awards winners

Player of the Year - Thierry Dusautoir
Team of the Year - New Zealand
Coach of the Year - Graham Henry
Junior Player of the Year - George Ford, England
Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC - Cecil Afrika, South Africa
Women's Personality of the Year - Ruth Mitchell
Referee Award for Distinguished Service - Keith Lawrence
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service - Jock Hobbs
Development Award - Rookie Rugby
Spirit of Rugby Award - Wooden Spoon
IRPA Special Merit Award - George Smith, Australia
IRPA Try of the Year - Radike Samo, Australia v New Zealand

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