It was Australian rugby’s night of nights, but it could have been a Bull Sharks reunion as the men and women of Bond University took home a swag of awards.
The black-tie Rugby Australia Awards at Doltone House on Wednesday evening saw Bull Sharks footballers claim the two biggest gongs in the women’s game.
Premiership winning prop Eva Karpani was named Wallaroo of the Year while Maddison Levi took out her first Shawn Mackay Medal as 7s player of the year.
Bond’s men’s program was also represented with Jake Upfield winning the Super Rugby Try of the Year for his effort for the Queensland Reds against the Highlanders.
Hayden Sargeant was also nominated for rookie of the year for his breakthrough season with the Australian men’s 7s program. The award was claimed by Wallaroo Carys Dalinger.
Queensland born tight head prop Karpani emerged as the next big thing in international women’s rugby with her powerful scrummaging and explosive ball carrying ability.
She started in all eight games for the Wallaroos in 2023 with the high-water mark coming against France in the World Cup Semi Finals in New Zealand where she scored a hat-trick.
It secured their first in WXV tournament history, defeating the third-ranked French for the first time in close to a decade.
She was back on the scoreboard against Wales where she carried multiple defenders over the line to secure the 25-19 win.
"To be honest, I was just happy to be here and catch up with the girls and reunite," a humble Karpani said.
"I don't think an award shows how much we've done over the past 12 months so I'm generally humbled and grateful.
"I have so much confidence in this team.”
Her stunning finish to the season saw Karpani (146 votes) pip Ashley Marsters (140), who missed the win over France and came off the bench against England and Wales.
2022 winner Georgina Friedrichs finished third (118 votes) after another strong year in gold.
Levi was unstoppable in the 2022-23 HSBC World Rugby Series season, being nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year, and scoring a record 57 tries in just one season.
She beat out Olympic hero Charlotte Caslick and Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea
"It was a pretty exciting year for me. I've grown as a player and an athlete and I've been able to build on that so to top it off with those accolades, it shows how hard I am working off the field," Levi said.