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!