They say one good turn deserves another and Ruby Tui got her just reward at the World Rugby Awards in Monaco.
The New Zealand rugby star has become a global sports smash hit for her infectious personality and positivity and again she took centre stage again at the glitzy ceremony.
Tui, who overcame a traumatic childhood to become an Olympic and world champion, emulated Sonny Bill Williams in gifting her Rugby World Cup winner’s medal to a young fan in the throng at Eden Park on November 12.
Watch Wallabies vs Wales and Springboks vs England this Sunday on the home of rugby, Stan Sport. All matches streaming ad-free, live and on demand
But an even more heartwarming backstory emerged as it was revealed that the recipient, Lucia, was a leukaemia survivor who had met her hero Tui at a fan engagement event during the tournament.
And just as they had with Wallabies great Justin Harrison, World Rugby presented Tui with a replacement medal after she had accepted an award for breakthrough women’s player of the year.
“She’d just been through a pretty hard battle with her family,” Tui said of Lucia.
READ MORE: Day two talking points – concussion issue branded ‘a disgrace’
READ MORE: Iran players’ powerful national anthem protest leaves female fan in tears
READ MORE: Arnold’s cheeky one-liner highlights relaxed attitude before France
Kiwi cult hero leads crowd into song
“I met her dad. It was super inspiring. She actually gave me her biggest bead that represents bravery. So this is my gold medal now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Black Ferns legend Fiao’o Fa’amausili then took the stage with the replacement medal.
“685 baby!” Tui said, referencing Samoa’s area code.
Sean Maloney and Morgan Turinui return to delve into all the Autumn Nation Series results as well as reviewing the RWC qualifying results and World Rugby Awards
“I’m so happy right now. That was a really cool surprise. Thank you so much.”
Tui’s mentor, Wayne Smith, was named World Rugby’s coach of the year after upsetting England in the World Cup final.
Smith masterminded a remarkable turnaround in just seven months, winning all 12 of his Tests after inheriting a team at a low ebb.
‘The Professor’ described it as the highlight of his wildly successful coaching career.
“At the start it was like taking the granddaughter and all her best friends to Disneyland,” Smith said.
“They were excited, joyful, noisy, and then they all found the courage to hop on the rollercoaster.”
2022 WORLD RUGBY AWARDS WINNERS
World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year – Ruahei Demant (New Zealand)
World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year – Josh van der Flier (Ireland)
World Rugby Coach of the Year – Wayne Smith (New Zealand Women’s 15s)
World Rugby Men’s Breakthrough Player of the Yearr – Ange Capuozzo (Italy)
World Rugby Women’s Breakthrough Player of the Year – Ruby Tui (New Zealand)
World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year – Terry Kennedy (Ireland)
World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year – Charlotte Caslick (Australia)
World Rugby Referee Award – Tappe Henning (South Africa)
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Dr Farah Palmer (New Zealand)
International Rugby Players Special Merit Award – Bryan Habana (South Africa)
International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year – Rodrigo Fernandez (Chile vs USA)
International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year – Abby Dow (England, vs Canada)
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here