It's that time of the year again. Live on the Rugby Channel you can see the NZRFU Rugby Awards night. Who will be coach of the year? Team of the year? Referee of the year? Player of the year? Hosted by Tony Johnson and Ian Smith, this night will surely be one of the most BORING of the year!
Instead of putting yourself through the torture of watching the NZRFU awards, check out the Rugbyheads Awards. All of last years prizes are back again, as well as several new ones. Intregued? Read on...
"Plank" Award for making a dickhead of yourself on the field
- 3rd - Caleb Ralph (For the All Blacks, against England) for his 'kick'. He completely missed the ball which is not easy to do. Would be called a 'whisky' in golf.
- 2nd - Will Greenwood (For England, against South Africa) for copping a hit in the nads, sticking his hand down his shorts and signalling "2" and a thumbs up to the crowd. Nice one.
- 1st - Matt Dunning (For the Waratahs, against the Chiefs) for that amazing drop-goal he landed from 35 metres which put the Tahs out of the Super 12 semi-finals seeing as his team needed to score 4 tries to sneak into the top 4.
"Matt Dunning Memorial Trophy" for spectacular play by a tight foward
- 3rd - Richard Bands (for South Africa, against the All Blacks - in Dunedin) for that incredible 40 metre try. Barnstorming down the field all 120 kg of him - completely steamrolling some rather frightened backs who dared to get in his road.
- 2nd - Scott Palmer (for Auckland against Wellington - in Auckland) for getting to a ruck about 5 metres out from the tryline and instead of picking the ball up and driving in the normal fashion, dove over the ruck spectacularly and scored an amazing try!
- 1st - Matt Dunning (for the Waratahs against the Chiefs) once again for the drop-goal. It was terrific. The only time I have seen a prop score a droppie at any level of rugby. Jonny Wilkinson himself couldn't have kicked it more sweetly.
A special mention too for Dave Dooley, who in the game between Waikato and Northland this year ran down Rupeni Caucauinbuca. After Rupeni broke the line he looked certain to score another try but Dave Dooley chased him down and bundled him into touch! Dooley of course is a lock, and Rupeni is widely achnowledged as the fastest man in world rugby. Great work!
"David Campese Award" for being a pretty boy hero
- 3rd - Louis Koen (for South Africa against Argentina) - a last minute penalty from the sideline to deny the Argies their first ever Springbok scalp in a game that the Boks didn't deserve to win. Never looked like missing.
- 2nd - Isea Tanivula (for Auckland against Otago - in the semi-final) for a try in the 80th minute to win the game for Auckland, send them into the NPC final which they went on to win. Ran through about 6 Otago players to score under the bar.
- 1st - Jonny Wilkinson (for England against Australia - Sydney) not much doubt here. A drop-goal in the 100th minute to win the rugby world cup final in extra time. Can't be much more herioc than that.
"Grizz Wylie Award" for Ugliest Player/Coach
- 3rd - John Mitchell - cauliflower ears, bald, sharp teeth and a disfigured nose. A very ugly man.
- 2nd - Martin Johnson - he may be a great player and a great captain, but he's no oil painting. Been lying at the bottom of a few too many rucks methinks.
- 1st - Steve Thompson - harder to put your finger on why this guy is ugly - but he definately is. His head looks like an arse is the best way to put it. Damn Poms win everything! We aren't even the ugliest anymore!
"Mark Ellis Trophy" for the Silliest Haircut
- 3rd - John O'Neil for what looks like a very bad toupee or possibly roadkill. "Possum-Head" is a nickname I often hear when refering to him.
- 2nd - Jason Spice for not even bothering to cut his hair half the time. Looked a bit like Shaggy off Scooby-Doo for most of the Super 12.
- 1st - Andrew Merhtens for those wonderful sideburns. If he had kept them a little while longer he might have started a cult following I reckon! Caused many a sheep-joke here in Wellington about Canterbury players having lamb-chops...
"Flavell Shield" for thuggish, brainless brute behaviour
- 3rd - Wendell Sailor (for Australia against New Zealand - Bledisloe 1) taking out Muliaina when he was high in the air jumping for the ball, earning a yellow card. Undoubtably did it on purpose and in the time he was off the All Blacks scored 2 tries.
- 2nd - Ron Cribb (for North Harbour against Canterbury) rucking the head of a young Canterbury player. Four week suspension and the end of his carreer in New Zealand.
- 1st - Troy Flavell (for the Blues against the Chiefs) the king of the bin got a deserved red card in the first few minutes of the match for stomping on a Chiefs players' head repeatedly. Also suspended for 12 weeks and lucky not to get more. Missed the rest of the Super 12 and with it went all chance of ever playing for the All Blacks again.
"Austin Healy Trophy" for causing controversy
- 3rd - Clive Woodward for repeated snide remarks to the media. I guess that unlike Mitchell he actually says things, but was it really necessary to gloat about how England have now beaten Australia the last 5 times they've played one another right after the world cup final?
- 2nd - Christian Cullen for releasing a book criticising John Mitchell and the All Black setup right before the world cup. You've had a good career, Cully. Don't shoot your mouth off and bite the hand that's fed you.
- 1st - The Springboks for "Camp Barbed Wire" where players were stripped naked, threatened at gunpoint, humiliated and subjected to freezing cold water in the name of building mental toughness. Didn't work too well though.
"New South Wales Prize" for getting taken to the cleaners
- 3rd - Australia (against the All Blacks - Bledisloe 1) what a game. 50-21 against the old foe that has given us so many problems in recent years. If only we could have repeated the dose in the world cup semifinal...
- 2nd - South Africa (against the All Blacks - Pretoria) 52-16 was the sort of score formerly reserved for New Zealand Super 12 teams against South African Super 12 teams, but this time it happened in the test match at Loftus; all finishing with a demolition of the Jappie scrum at the fulltime whistle.
- 1st - Namibia (against Australia) I know that Namibia aren't exactly a rugby superpower, but they should have done better than 142-0. That's a try every four minutes! Try harder please.
"Hurricanes Prize" for inconsistancy
- 3rd - Wellington for beating Auckland, coming back to draw with Canterbury, knocking off Waikato in the semi-final, but also losing to North Harbour and going missing in the grand final.
- 2nd - Waratahs for losing games to the Reds and Stormers, then beating the mighty Crusaders and the Highlanders at Carisbrook, then failing to put away a very average Chiefs team!
- 1st - All Blacks for looking so damn good for the whole year, but losing the plot against the Wallabies! Argh!!!!!
"The 111 Lineouts Match Award" for the most forgettable rugby game
- 3rd - Australia vs Scotland - knock-ons galore, Australia always in control but never looking any good. Both teams deserved to lose but at the end of the match Australia has scored a few more so they were awarded the win.
- 2nd - New Zealand vs France (3rd/4th playoff) - proof that even matches with tries can be boring. The first time I've fallen asleep while watching the All Blacks play. The game lacked any sort of edge as two crestfallen teams went through the motions of playing an unneccesary fixture.
- 1st - Otago vs Auckland (round-robin) - What a horrible match this one was. Otago won 6-3 but again both teams deserved to lose. You had to see this match to believe how bad it was.
- 3rd - Southland beating Canterbury
- 2nd - Bay of Plenty beating Auckland
- 1st - Wallabies beating All Blacks
So there it is. That's what I'll remember from season 2003. Enjoy the summer and GO THE BLACK CAPS!