With another rugby season just about done and dusted, and with the IRB Awards looking to be the usual overly political, foregone conclusion, it’s time to celebrate those who have actually provoked the most debate and excitement in season 2012.
Nominees for the Alternative IRB awards are:
1. Worst Refereeing Howler
a) Wayne Barnes and Dave Pearson: For being too close, or too far away to spot Bradley Davies spear tackle on Donncha Ryan.
b) Craig Joubert: Worst unlikely contribution to New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup campaign.
c) Bryce Lawrence: Worst brazenly obvious contribution to New Zealand’s rugby world cup campaign.
d) Alain Rolland: Worst timing for a referee to actually punish a tip tackle while having a French sounding name.
e) Jonathan Kaplan: For “Keep your eye on the ball… the ball… not around the ball…the ball. Now, JK, which ball was used in the quick throw? The game ball from row Z in the stands? Or another one?”
2. Worst Coach
a) Andy Robinson: Worst capitulation in IRB rankings in a single year.
b) Rob Howley: For enabling Wales to slip down the rankings faster than Warren Gatland falling from a ladder.
c) Robbie Deans: Consistently making the worst attempts to win a Bledisloe Cup.
d) Heyneke Meyer: For best attempt to make Springbok fans nostalgic for the good old days when P-Divvy was in the power seat.
e) Martin Johnson: for worst attempt at a Rugby World Cup campaign.
3. Worst Act of Thuggery
a) Aurélien Rougerie on Richie McCaw: For worst eye gouge on an opposition captain in a Rugby World Cup final.
b) Dean Greyling on Richie McCaw: For worst attempt to subtly imply to a referee that a flanker might be offside.
c) Sam Warburton on Vincent Cleric: For worst attempt to get away with a tip-tackle.
d) Andrew Hore on Bradley Davies: For worst attempt to nonchalantly knock out an opponent.
e) Bradley Davies on Donncha Ryan: For least appropriate way to suggest a player is bound correctly to a ruck in the future.
4. Worst Team Performance
a) England for Rugby World Cup 2011: otherwise known as Mike Tindall’s stag.
b) Fiji: For all of 2011/2012.
c) France: For worst performance by a finalist in a Rugby World Cup pool.
d) New Zealand: For that draw in Brisbane.
e) Wales: For the tour of Australia they backed themselves to win 3-0.
f) Ireland: For losing to New Zealand 60-0 after being an injury time drop goal shy of a win the week before.
5. Worst off Field Indiscretion
a) Mike Tindall: For getting caught on video with another woman in a bar, two weeks after getting married.
b) Manu Tuilagi: For worst waterborne attempt to escape from the England team environment.
c) James Haskell, Chris Ashton and Dylan Hartley: For “the hotel walkie-talkie incident”.
d) Quade Coope : For worst contribution to dressing room solidarity.
c) Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono: For worst adherence to Godwin’s law on a social media platform.
6. Worst Kit
a) England: For wearing All Black to a rugby competition, in New Zealand.
b) Ireland: For wearing an All Black away strip, at home after losing 60-0 to the All Blacks.
c) England: For the purple jump suit.
d) New Zealand: For being a bunch of money grubbing sell outs and defiling rugby’s proudest icon with a sponsor’s logo.
7. Worst Commentary/Pundit
a) Ian Smith: For introducing the defeated French Captain as “Thierry Henry” in the Rugby World Cup post match interview.
b) Murray Mexted: Occupying all Google’s top 10 hits for the search phrase “rugby commentary howler”.
c) Zinzan Brooke: For ending every sentence on Sky TV with the word “here”.
d) Brian Moore: The only thing more reliable than a referee ignoring a crooked scrum feed is that Brian Moore will talk for 20 minutes about it. Every. Single. Time.
e) Phil Kearns: For suggesting every act of foul play perpetrated by a Wallaby should be legalised by the IRB.
f) John Inverdale: For most tenuous segue to mention Jonny Wilkinson’s 2003 drop goal during every single match commentary.
And the winners are…