All Black Beauden Barrett looks to pass the ball during the Rugby Championship match between New Zealand and South Africa at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
All Black Beauden Barrett looks to pass the ball during the Rugby Championship match between New Zealand and South Africa at AMI Stadium in Christchurch. DIANNE MANSON

The best and the worst of this year's Rugby Championship

RUGBY writer Chris Rattue names his Rugby Championship awards ...

Coach of the tournament

Michael Cheika ... just kidding. We'll go against World Rugby's 2015 judgment and give the gong to Steve Hansen. The All Blacks boss is already up there with the greatest coaches rugby has ever seen. We are watching a rugby revolution, one that is sweeping the rest of the world aside. In comparison, the poor old 'Boks looked like they were playing primary school rugby at Durban. Ian Foster, Grant Fox and Wayne Smith can also take a bow. But the buck stops with Hansen, and so should most of the praise.

Player of the tournament

Beauden Barrett. Plays with a barely believable flair and freedom that has taken the All Blacks' game to a new level. No offence, but it also shows how the Dan Carter obsession was actually holding the All Blacks back. The contest for the No.10 jersey is over - Barrett might not be able to kick goals but he has booted his super-sub tag well into touch.

Inexplicable award

How come a bloke as talented as Barrett looks like his boots are on the wrong way around when he tries to kick goals?

Most significant accolade

From All Blacks legend and World Cup winner Sean Fitzpatrick, about the current side: "This team has taken rugby to a new level ... I quite openly will say this is the best All Black team I have seen. Their skill sets are sensational. (They have) outstanding leadership. Congratulations to them.”

Weirdest story

It's Aaron Smith v a bug. And it's a stunning victory to Smith. Until Smith was banned for having sex in a disabled toilet at Christchurch Airport, the bug story was odds-on favourite. The bug in this case was a listening device in the All Blacks' meeting room in Sydney. It must be stressed that the culprit remains unknown. But if Australia has uncovered any All Black secrets, it looks as though it hasn't got a clue what to do with them. New Zealand Rugby must now work out what to do with Smith ... precedents are in short supply.

Best newcomer

Anton Lienert-Brown. A star is born. He wasn't the first port of call. Far from it. But the Chiefs centre has already expanded the All Blacks' horizons with the skill he brings to the midfield. Malakai Fekitoa, Seta Tamanivalu, George Moala et al have been turned into also-rans for the No.13 jersey.

Saddest sight

A dead-heat. Years of South African rugby magnificence going down the gurgler and the champion Springbok wing Bryan Habana playing like an exhibit.


Nick Phipps. The Aussie halfback chucked Malakai Fekitoa's boot into the Wellington stands, then pushed over an Argentina medic at Twickenham. What's his issue?

Best quote

"No one cares about second. I can't remember who was in the World Cup final - all I remember is New Zealand won it.” The Wallabies' beaten World Cup final coach Michael Cheika, before the Twickenham clash against the Pumas.

Worst missed tackle

Australia was apparently set to complain about Steve Hansen meeting referee Romain Poite before the Test in Wellington. Hansen said: "We don't meet the ref, we haven't for 18 to 24 months because it's just a waste of time.”

The huh? award

TJ Perenara lost control of the ball, rolled it along the ground and scored a try against South Africa. Who the heck came up with a rule like that?

Rising star

Facundo Isa. The Pumas' No.8 is not exactly a newcomer, but at 23 he is one of the great long-term prospects in world rugby. He had a fantastic game against the All Blacks in Buenos Aires, carrying the ball well over 20 times. Isa has it all.