Alana Thomas crowned rugby's Community Coach of the Year

TOP HONOUR: Alana Thomas was crowned the Australian Rugby Union's Community Coach of the Year. Photo: ARU.

TOP HONOUR: Alana Thomas was crowned the Australian Rugby Union's Community Coach of the Year. Photo: ARU.

On the Australian Rugby Union’s night of nights, the girl from Glen Innes was recognised as one of the country’s top coaches. 

Alana Thomas was crowned the Community Coach of the Year on Thursday after leading the Melbourne Unicorns to a premiership this year. 

Thomas played as a Wallaroo from 2006 to 2010 and has continued to inspire up-and-coming rugby stars in her role as a coach and mentor. 

She was overwhelmed in receiving the honour and said she was bursting with pride when they announced her as the winner and introduced her using her home town. 

“I don't coach for these awards, you coach for the players,” she said. 

“Hopefully if there are one or two kids in Glen Innes or the surrounding areas that can see this achievement, it drives them to chase their dream and realise they can do it, that's what it is all about.

“It was really nice in the video clip the ARU did that they put on the opening line 'girl from Glen Innes' so I thought that was really nice of them to start with that.”

The ARU’s top performers were honoured on the night including Israel Folau who was presented with his record-breaking third John Eales medal.

Thomas said she was in awe of the people she had the chance to rub shoulders with.

“We were sitting on a table with new Rebels coach Dave Wessels and with the Brumbies coaching staff and management so it was a really good night to sit there,” she said. 

“It was really nice to be in a room with such great people in the sport of rugby.”

The Community Coach gong was named after former Wallabies centre Geoff Shaw who presented the award to Thomas. 

“It was a fantastic night. I was excited and to get the award off Geoff, it is call the Geoff 'Bunter' Shaw award, and having knowing him and a lot of people commented he was just as excited if not more than me about winning it,” she said. 

“Two years in-a-row there's been a female win it so it is great to see there is a lot of women out there involved with the success of the sevens and all women's sport in Australia, it is another example of things that are going forward in sport.” 

A former Wallaroo.

A former Wallaroo.