Gregan wins Rugby Medal fo Excellence
December 8, 2006

George Gregan reached another career milestone when voted by his fellow professional players as a three-time winner of the 2006 Rugby Medal For Excellence at the annual Investec Rugby Players Christmas Fundraising luncheon in Sydney today.

In winning the coveted award for on and off field excellence, Gregan becomes the Award's first three time winner having captured the inaugural Medal in 2001 before triumphing again in 2004.

Gregan posted 50 votes to comfortably beat NSW Waratahs hooker Adam Freier (40 votes) with Queensland Reds flanker David Croft and ACT Brumbies and Wallaby centre Stirling Mortlock (both 29 votes) in joint third place.

All 132 members of the Rugby Union Players Association 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.

In 2006, Gregan became the world's most capped rugby union player and surpassed John Eales with for the most number of Tests as captain for Australia.

He has now played 127 Test caps, 58 as captain, since making his debut against Italy in 1994. He recently opted to rest from the recent Wallaby tour to focus on his preparation for next year's Rugby World Cup in France.

Off the field George is a successful businessman operating a chain of GG Espresso coffee shops in Sydney and establishing the George Gregan Foundation with his wife, Erica.

The Foundation aims to raise funds for specific children projects, particularly researching, funding and delivering outdoor specialised playgrounds in children's hospitals and the funding of a Fellowship in Neurology at Westmead Children's Hospital in Sydney.

More than $1 million has been raised and the Westmead Children's Hospital playground was completed in September 2006. The Foundation has also raised funds to build a playground at the Royal Children's Hospital Brisbane which will be completed next year.

Gregan is also a national patron of Brainwave, a charity supporting the treatment and care of children with neurological disorders and their families.

Additionally, Gregan donated an enormous amount of memorabilia to schools and community groups and made several hospital visits throughout Australia.

Queensland fly-half Berrick Barnes was named winner of the inaugural RUPA Best Newcomer Of The Year Award.

Open to all first year contracted players, Barnes was judged the winner by the RUPA Executive Committee ahead of Brumbies twin brothers Anthony and Saia Faingaa.

Barnes made his Super 14 debut in the Reds' opening match against the NSW Waratahs and played 11 games before being sidelined following a shoulder operation.

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 Ian Tucker Memorial Statue stands at Iffley Road overlooking Oxford University's playing grounds. Each year, Oxford's Best and Fairest player is inscribed on a plaque on the statue.

The Rugby Medal For Excellence Honour Roll is:

2001 - George Gregan
2002 - Nathan Sharpe
2003 - Brendan Cannon
2004 - George Gregan
2005 - Nathan Sharpe
2006 - George Gregan

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