Lions Tour to Australia 2013: Awards

Player of the series
Nominees: Alex Corbisiero, Alun-Wyn Jones, Adam Jones, Leigh Halfpenny, Will Genia

There are several players worthy of this accolade, most of them, unsurprisingly, from the Lions. Alex Corbisiero has confirmed himself as one of the world’s best loose-heads and, if he can stay fit, is quite a weapon for England and new club Northampton. Alongside him in the front row, Adam Jones was also a rock in the scrums who never lost his battle with Benn Robinson. Alun-Wyn Jones was an absoulte rock; a pillar of passion, power and effort in the engine room, and a more than deserved captain in that fateful final test. Will Genia deserves a mention for the Australians, as he proved once again that he is in a different league to all other scrum halves. Can you imagine if he had been playing behind the Lions pack in the final test? That he plays so well behind an average set of forwards is hugely impressive.

Loathe as we are to state the obvious, there is only one man who can take this award, however. Leigh Halfpenny had a quite astonishing series, averaging over 90% with the boot and really coming into his own with ball in hand – something some bizarrely seemed to think he couldn’t do. Two assists in the final test put that notion to bed. An exemplary tour in every sense.

Winner: Leigh Halfpenny

Try of the series
Nominees: Israel Folau first test (x2), George North first test, Johnny Sexton final test, George North final test

This is a tricky award, as there were some fantastic tries scored this series. Isreal Folau’s double in the first test would both be worthy, the first for Will Genia’s brilliance in the build-up and the second for a sidestep so good it left Johnny Sexton, normally an astute defender, firmly on his buttocks. Then there are the two second half tries from the final test that so stick in the memory, and are enhanced by their importance in taking the game, and the series, away from Australia. The first included a gliding run and nice offload from Davies, a calculated assist from Halfpenny and a superb supporting line from Sexton. The second involved a jinking run from Halfpenny, leaving Genia and Tomane trailing in his wake, and a nice pass to North who steamed over the line.

However, for sheer individual brilliance this award must go to George North for his effort in the first test. The Lions, shell-shocked by that early Wallaby score, were on the back foot before North received the ball from an aimless kick. Seemingly with nothing on, he danced through a non-existent gap before rounding two more men without being touched on the way to the line. It was a try that will go down in Lions folklore.

Winner: George North, first test

Moment of the series
Nominees: North on Folau dump truck, James Horwill’s reaction after second test, Daniel Craig

The reason Horwill’s reaction is up for this award is that it encapsulated how much this series meant to the Australians. It showed that Australia does care about rugby union, and that the Lions series is certainly still relevant in this day and age. Daniel Craig wondering around the Lions changing room after the final test win was a moment of pure surrealism – when Bond met the Lions.

However, George North picks up his second coveted TRB award for his quite bizarre, but brilliant, bit of defending-cum-attacking, when, ball in hand, he basically dump-tackled Israel Folau. Clearly he had been spending too much time with Dan Lydiate. You don’t have to tackle everything, Dan. Sometimes it’s ok just to run with the ball.

Winner: George North’s dump-truck on Israel Folau

Unsung heroes of the series
Nominees: Lions’ medical team, Lions’ social media staff, Stuart Hogg

Stuart Hogg gets a mention here, for two reasons. Firstly for filling in at fly-half for most of the tour, a job he did admirably well considering he hadn’t played there since school. And secondly, for carrying the toy Lions Bil around for five weeks. That must have been tiresome at times. The Lions’ social media team were excellent, keeping their Twitter and Facebook feeds up to date with news, photos and general chat from the Lions camp. Fair play on letting the players have a fairly free-reign on social media as well – there were some brilliantly funny photos and tweets, but no PR calamities.

Really though this award can only go to the Lions’ medical team. They worked wonders to get the likes of Tommy Bowe and Jamie Roberts fit again, after they suffered injuries that on previous tours would have seen them on the next flight home. Dr James Robson and his team deserve a huge amount of credit for their hard work.

Winner: Lions medical team

Disappointment of the series
Nominees: James O’Connor, Stuart Barnes, disciplinary procedures

It is tough not to feel sorry for James O’Connor. He is a very talented individual, but he is not a fly-half. Everyone on the planet could see that, bar Robbie Deans. He was tasked with leading an exciting Wallaby back-line, but instead looked out of his depth and failed to make the most of the immense talents outside him. And in a supremely harsh act of kicking a man when he is down, he has just been dropped by his club, the Rebels, for next season. We feel for you, James.

This award is a tie, however, between Sky commentator Stuart Barnes and the disciplinary system. Barnes offered precisely zero insight all tour, and was an ear-sore more often than not. His assertion that Warburton’s injury was a blessing was utterly ridiculous. The disciplinary system failed spectacularly too, allowing James Horwill off scot-free for a blatant stamp on A-W Jones. Anyone with two eyes could see it deserved at least a mild punishment, but even after review he was let off. We don’t know the nuances of the procedure, but something is not right there.

Winners (or losers, rather): Stuart Barnes and the disciplinary procedure

What do you make of our awards and winners? Do you agree?

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Stay tuned for our alternative awards – a more tongue-in-cheek look at the memorable moments from the tour!

10 thoughts on “Lions Tour to Australia 2013: Awards

  1. I think North deserves a mention for player of the series as well. The one winger who has really proved his worth on this tour. And also for the try in the first test, and for picking up an opposition player and running with him on his shoulder, whilst still holding onto the ball!

  2. I thought JOC’s try in the third test was worthy of a mention. How on earth he found the space to get over still puzzles me.

    Moment of the series, BoD’s reaction to being dropped. Obviously a very classy individual.

    And to be fair to Deans (sort of) JOC wants to play FH and thinks it’s his best position. I don’t think the rest of us do!

    Losers – the doubters (like me!).However at least I never stopped supporting the Lions, so biggest losers the supporters who switched allegiances.

  3. Losers – those of us (definitely me included) who let ourselves be dragged into lazy parochialism (even if we were severely provoked by some ‘interesting’ selection decisions…)

    Spent many hours wandering (*staggering!) the streets of London on Sat in a Lions shirt, and thoroughly many conversations and congratulations with Lions fans of all nations (and even some Aussies).

    Reminded me of what the tour was all about, and what makes the British and Irish Lions (and rugby) so bloody special. Bring on 2015 :-)

  4. I almost feel ungrateful for doing it, but I am going to dispute Leigh Halfpenny’s selection as man of the series. It’s true that his unerring accuracy off the tee was the bedrock on which the series victory was built. I’m also not one of those who questioned his ability with ball in hand, as I remember what a tricky inventive player he was when picked on the wing in his early international games and I think his chances to show what he can do are limited by Gatland’s game-plan. I just happen to think that over the three tests Alun-Wyn Jones has been immense from start to finish, even saving his finest performance for the final test. He started his tour with a stamp to the head but has stood up to be counted even making up for the potentially fatal absence of Paul O’Connell (ably assisted by Parling obviously), and then taking on the captaincy in the deciding test!

    Regarding Barnes and his assertion that Warburton’s injury was a blessing – when put like that it sounds offensive, but if Warburton had been fit Sean O’Brien would not have started, and that would have been an injustice.

  5. Alternative moment of the series occured in the first minute of the first test Christian Leali’ifano bouncing his head of Jon Davies’ hip cue no first choice kicker etc etc on such margins …….

  6. My moment of the series was Hibbard/Smith clashing heads, Hibbard bounces up like nothing has happened, Smith wanders off like Bambi on ice. I’m glad it wasn’t serious so that it can be laughed at now. When it happened it seemed to sum up what was happening with that amazing front five – zero give, maximum power. Also my own personal moment of the series was the chanting of “scrum! scrum! scrum” in The Old A whenever we had the ball in that first half. We wanted our team to drop it we were enjoying the arm wrestle so much. A hearty welcome back to The Scrum, I’ve missed you.

    Agree with Staggy about the biggest losers. Also would add a small loss for rugby – for my non-Sky subscribing casual-rugby-fan mates this tour passed by almost unnoticed.

    As much as I loved North’s solo try I’d have to go for 1/2ps 2nd assist. The whole pub shouting “how the hell is he over there?” when he rx’d the ball on left wing after punting in to Beale from the right wing. The dancing step around Genia, the despair on Genia’s face and the inch perfect pass to North. Magic.

  7. I don’t think Stuart Barnes was a disappointment as such. I got exactly what I was expecting from him – unless you count the forlorn hope at the start of each match that he might somehow have lost his voice that day and been unable to commentate.

    I was in New Zealand during the world cup, and watched some of the games on the TV. Nobody had warned me that Sky NZ had signed up Barnes as a pundit. Now that was a disappointment!

  8. late call ups are an inevitability on a lions tour, and its not unheard of for one of them to become a star of the test series.

    therefore i would like to submit Alex Corbisero for the “unexpected hero award”

    previous winners:
    2009 – Tom Croft.
    2005 – RyanJones
    2001 – Scott Gibbs/Martin Corry

  9. I think a little bit more of a deal should be made about Faletau.

    he knuckled down and played in the midweek games, and clearly didnt let missing the test sqaud get him down. he put in his all, was rewarded with a test start, and had an absolute stormer.
    can the actions and attitude of one player epitomise the ethos of the lions more?

  10. Woah, what twitter feed were you following Jamie?

    The Lions Official had two fairly bad PR missteps. – One with a quip asking whether players awaiting the squad announcement were feeling ‘suicidal’, and the other where they tweeted a pic showing an animal (a springbok I think) with it’s genitalia impaled on metal fence post! Both were deleted pretty quickly and the animal cruelty one resulted in them having to issue an apology.

    Also where there were crazy rumours flying around about Manu being injured and BOD potentially getting the nod a day or so before the 3rd test there wasn’t a word from them. A good social media team would’ve checked with the team/management and quashed those rumours ASAP.

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