Six Nations 2013: The Alternative Awards

The Pelé award for silky skills
No prizes for guessing the winner of this one. Simon Zebo’s outrageous flick of the heel and gather was a moment of pure class, for which he will probably be remembered for the rest of his life. O’Driscoll’s delayed pass to Zebo himself earlier in that same game deserves a mention, too, as it required a speed of mind that few possess.

The Jesus award for turning water into wine
In this metaphor, Wales’ first half performance against Ireland is represented by fetid, festering swamp water, and their final game against England is your finest bottle of Grand Cru. Whether it was the opportunity to beat England, the chance to win back-to-back championships, or the realisation that they actually have some half-decent rugby players, the transformation between rounds one and five was quite astonishing. So well done, Wales.

The Nick Mallett award for bizarre selections
Mallet set the benchmark pretty high with his Mauro-Bergamasco-at-scrum-half selection a few years ago, but this year one coach has been doing his utmost to catch him up. Blessed with the best centre in the Northern Hemisphere the obvious choice was, of course, to stick him on the wing. A confidence-based player plying his trade for club at scrum-half? Let’s play him at 10! Handing the goal-kicking duties to Freddie Michalak over Morgan Parra was also beyond baffling. Step up Philippe Saint-André.

The Scotland award for bottling it
The Scotland award for bottling it goes to… Ireland?! That game at Murrayfield quite simply defied belief. Over three-quarters of the possession and territory really should be enough to win the game. But knock-ons, missed kicks, butchered two-on-ones and O’Gara’s bizarre kick-pass contrived to give Scotland the most unlikely of wins. So hats off to Ireland, for showing a level of lack of composure that Scotland themselves would have been proud of.

The Charlie Dimmock Dodgy Gardening award
Only one winner here: the Stade de France pitch maintenance team. They may has well have played on the beach. Sort it out.

The Sour Grapes award for whinging
The English players are to be commended for the way they graciously accepted a crushing final day defeat that robbed them of championship and Grand Slam. England’s coaches, however, were not so contrite. Four days after the game, complaining about the referee in the media is not really on. There are official channels for that sort thing – stick to them, or we risk going down the road of the Wendyballers.

The Iain Balshaw award
This can be interpreted in many ways, but only one player can win it this year: Chris Ashton. Turnstile-like defence, not living up to the outrageous potential once shown, a propensity for pulling ridiculous faces while running… Could Ashton be more Balshaw-like? Time to pack your bags and head to France, Chris?


The Play through the Pain award, sponsored by Gaffa Tape
Alex Cuthbert’s two tries on the final weekend were scored with a hamstring strain that will now keep him out for four to six weeks, which has also helpfully given Welsh fans even more to brag about (‘He would have scored four if he hadn’t been injured!’… He wouldn’t.) However, Manu Tuilagi’s pure barbarism in taping his half-hanging-off ear back to his head and playing on for about 70 minutes wins this award hands down. It was disgusting and courageous in equal measures.

Feel free to submit your own awards below!

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

41 thoughts on “Six Nations 2013: The Alternative Awards

  1. The Andy Robinson for “Taking Positives” Out of A Hapless Performance

    Goes to Declan Kidney, almost to the extent this should be renamed the Kidney award.

  2. Vincent Clerc was unlucky in the Silky Skills award for his volley on the line against Scotland to keep Michalak’s cross-kick in play. They retained possession and went on to nearly score. That was deliriously good from France.

  3. The Yet Another False Dawn Award

    Goes to Italy after beating France in the first week, they end up getting stuffed by Scotland in the second? Bizarre!

    1. Bit harsh, they were on a 6 day turnaround on the back of a hugely emotional performance. A first ever win against Ireland, an unlucky loss against England and finishing above Ireland and France in the table is a pretty good campaign in my opinion.

    2. Arguably the false dawn award goes to England. In the aftermath of a win over the all blacks the media had written the English Grand Slam headlines and a lot of fans were already sure of it. Yet after an impressive win over Scotland England only scored one try and failed to convince in any of their subsequent wins before a dismal display in Cardiff, lest we ever be allowed to forget about it.

  4. The Running Into A Brick Wall award for attacking incompetence should go to England for their performances in the last three games.

    1. I like this one. Maybe Andy Farrell and mike Catt should have that tattooed on their arms to remind them that scoring tries is what counts.

  5. Whether or not Lancaster and Rowntree should have gone public (they shouldn’t) and whether Walshie ruined the game for England (he didn’t), it does highlight some justified concerns about some of the refing decisions made. Walshie had issues in the Ire-Fra game, and as for Poite… Just hope the IRB has a look at this now.

    Can I also nominate BOD for an honorary bottling it/turning wine-into-water award? Looked petulant for not leaving the pitch when he should have done at the Aviva, and then lost to Italy and got banned in what could be his last game in the green. Very far from the swansong the great man deserved.

    1. Here here. As evidenced by coaches all over the place popping up and chiming their agreement. And was there really any way for the England coaches to raise entirely justified concerns about how the scrums is officiated without looking like whinging Poms? It’s not exactly like we’ve got a history of this under SL, the SA and Aus defeats were very matter of fact about our failings. Something about the Taffs?

      1. “was there really any way for the England coaches to raise entirely justified concerns about how the scrums is officiated without looking like whinging Poms” – Yes, it’s called sending the referee report in to the IRB referee panel. Simple as that.

        Giving quotes to the media about “momentum changing decisions”, discussing specific incidents that you perceive as “rucks” but everyone else as “tackles”, providing off-the-record sources that will assure everyone Wales collapsed the scrum, having your scrum coach tell everyone it couldn’t have been his boys because he coaches them to be fair and straight … these are all the things you do when you want to be called whingers.

        Which of the above two options – keeping your own counsel or telling the world and his mother – did the England coaching team choose?

        1. It is not true that “everyone else” perceived it to be a tackle and not a breakdown, Brighty.

          1. Well yeah, cos the england management team think it was a tackle. Ref associations for one seem happy with it –

            Lancaster wrong to question refs performance. England should look inside. First try fine. Ball came out from tackle – there was NO ruck.— RugbyRefs (@LivRugbyRefs) March 20, 2013

            And Brendan Gallagher seems happy about it


            I guess I agree with you that some people think it was a ruck and Walsh got it wrong, I know what I think of that.

            Overall though none of that changes the point of my mail i.e. whining in the press is just whining. Pure and simple. Sort it out through the proper channels, last I heard the Daily Telegraph is not the official channel for the IRB.

  6. The Pasty tax U turn award on refereeing decisions for Rowntree if the Lions go for an all Welsh (entirely possible ) front-row .

    1. Or the Poacher Turns Gamekeeper Award for submitting “glowing reports” on refs that have made huge “momentum changing” errors in your favour in the previous 2 games. Not heard too much about France or Italy seeking clarification!

      1. More fool them if they didn’t. The ref (Clancy?) made some shocking errors in England’s favour during the game with Italy

  7. The Gareth Bale and Spurs one man team award

    Sergio Parisse and Italy. Italy Outstanding against France, Italy and England with Parise at the helm but then dreadful against Wales without him. Never has a team relied on one player as much as the Italians rely on the big man Sergio!

  8. The What Not To Do With An Overlap Award goes to mess[e]rs Goode and Flood for their comedy coming together with 1/3rd of the team waiting to run in unopposed.

    1. It was so bad it still makes me shake my head in dis-belief.

      It would be poor play from a under-13 side let alone supposed internationals

  9. The Sour Grapes award for whinging – are you kidding?! Think you’ll find the England coaches have completely gone own the correct & official channel. As for complaining to the media – are you high? Or maybe you weren’t actually at the Writers’ Briefing when Graham Rowntree was asked a pointed question, to which if he hadn’t given a straight answer, the journalist would have continued pressing until he got what he wanted. Jeez you should get your facts straight before hurling unfounded & defamatory accusations.

    1. London rugby – you have just clarified and furthered the “sour grapes award ” Well done you – whinger

    2. “The journalist would have kept pressing until he got an answer”. Too right. A tiny lad like Rowntree can’t be expected to stand up to journalists when it would be the right thing to do, can he?

      Maybe you should have listened to five live on Monday morning – Edwards was asked a direct question by five live “who should be in the Lions” and he replied with “I am not answering that question, move on.”

      1. Guys, the interviews with Rowntree can be sourced on the RFU website. It is probably worth your whiles, in taking a look at them, as whilst they will not account for any deep-rooted prejudices, they do allow a more objective assessment of the context of his comments.

        1. You should be able to work the press at Stuarts and Grahams level, no excuses really, just as players should pplay the ref – unfortunately the Welsh victory and Championship has been undermined and played second fiddle to all the other nonsense as the referee – but well done England and the management Team to unable to get all the attention and press and turned this years championship into the SH show rather then rugby.

        2. Yes, I’ve seen that video and also read the articles with direct quotes in e.g. Cleary’s.

          To think this is whining is not a deep-rooted prejudice. To try and say so is just another form of prejudice i.e. you think that a lot of us just hate England anyway so we’re incapable of being objective here.

          When the Edward’s comments were pointed out to me I called him a whiney whinger as well. It’s all whinging when it’s done through the press. You don’t need to go to the press to get some IRB consideration, in fact I suspect they’ll completely ignore the press and just read the report. The report by itself would have been fine so there’s no need to give Rowntree even a modicum of credit for supposedly trying to get something done. He already had all the opportunity he needed by submitting his report.

          1. Brighty, It is true to say that if the emotions of hate (or love) are involved, it always compromises objectivity, so you are partly correct.

            Our prejudices (and we all have prejudices of some sort) do affect our judgement, and when we use such emotive descriptions as “whining”, as opposed to say “talking” or discussing”, then it suggests an interpretation of the facts, that may, or may not be true – and these can be coloured by deep-rooted, or even sub-conscious prejudices – which is not the same thing as conscious prejudice.

            To be clear, I don’t think that a lot of you (Welsh?) hate England.

  10. While I don’t necessarily believe about complaining in the media about referees, choosing Walsh to referee England – given his past – is always going to be contentious and surprise surprise it was. When the elite refereeing panel is doing nothing to reduce the stupid performances of referees (see the stupidly long pauses in the scrum sequence which marred several games, particularly from Southern Hemisphere referees) the only thing to do is often go public in the hope that they start to pay attention. See also Richard Cockerill’s gripe with Wayne Barnes. After the Premiership final he made a formal (not public) complaint and his argument was upheld. Yet Wayne Barnes continues to referee poorly and so what option does he have?

    1. All a little overdone know – SL and the rugby committee will be applying to be in the next election – who is the spin doctor – i am sure Labour or the conservatives would pay more for him

  11. Quite interesting, i was wondering why Tuilagi kept pouring with blood good to know lol.

    If I had to great another award… hmm,..

    Two just isn’t enough – Awarded to wales in advance before they slack of for another year :p Right before they return to win 6N 2014

  12. I somewhat agree with a lot of the statements, England went down the correct channels, which they’re completely entitled to do.

    But why release it to the media straight after? Surely the logical solution would be to wait until the storm has died down, and perhaps all the responses from the IRB have been collated.

    For what its worth (and as an Englishman it pains me to say that) I don’t think Walsh was that bad. He should be spoken to with regards to his level of professionalism towards Tom Youngs, but that’s it. refereeing of the scrum is a universal problem, and should be looked into.

    There are far worse referees than Walsh…

    1. Very good point Andy – the vast majority of the refing problems are centred around the scrum engagement.

      There is no question that the scrum still needs to be looked at, and in the meantime more and more players are learning to play the “streetwise” game rather than attempting to compete fairly.

      But don’t ask me what the answer is – if I knew I’d be earning millions as an IRB consultant!

      1. Actually peteyboy, there are a number of possible solutions that would go a long way to solving the problem, and none of them are super creative.

        Option 1- return to the two part scrum. The scrums come together, and once they are set, steady and up then the ball is put in by the scrumhalf. Once the ball is in, then the competition (ie pushing) is allowed to begin.

        Option 2- have the ball put in straight, so teams are given a fair chance of competing for the ball and don’t have to try and con a penalty while defending a scrum for a chance to get the ball. With the ball being fed straight to the locks, even a poor scrummaging team can simply get it to the 8 and get it away. This means that the defensive team really has to cheat to have any hope of competing for the ball.

        Option 3- have a specific patch/handle on the shirts of the props. This is the area where they MUST bind. A failure to bind in this area shows a lack of positive intention to scrum.

        Option 4- the scrums have become such a mess that we simply adopt the rugby league style scrums. Essentially the only purpose is to restart the game and tie the forwards in. Eventually we will see the extinction of props and hookers.

        As you may have been able to tell, I was becoming less realistic throughout the options, because the scrum is such a problem in the modern game that anything seems better that the moment.

        The major issues that need addressing are A) too much emphasis is put on the hit that it is dangerous, and we are not even seeing proper scrums. B) the scrumhalves never out the ball in straight, therefore there is no competition at the scrum unless you can either con a penalty or cheat so much that you get the other team marching back on their own ball. C) refs and touch judges ensuring that binds are made and kept. Too often in the modern game we see an illegal bind go unpunished. These binds are used to manipulate an opponent into an illegal scrummaging position, and the ref pings the wrong player.

        The whole move to crouch, touch, set had done nothing for the game. Before players were taught to go on the “en” of engage. Nt they simply try and anticipate the timing of set. It is resulting in way too many early engagements. Scrummaging should be about the technique and strength of the pack, not who can hit harder and try to stay up the longest. It is time that we did away with the hit and reverted to scrums where we push once the ball is in (a rule which I believe is still actually a rule, but seems to be ignored)

        Oh! And before anyone thinks I am referring specifically to the England Wales games I am not. This is about scrummaging in general, because the entire situation has been a joke for the past few years.

    2. Andy, I think that England are very keen to promote an open image through the press following on from the PR disaster in New Zealand, hence the many, many videos being shown constantly – and throughout the 6N – on the RFU website.

      This is just one such video, and its subject matter has rather been taken out of context. I suspect that in hindsight, England would have rather kept this one under wraps.

      1. I think it demonstrated a lack of awareness of how their comments would be perceived, which was a bit of a surprise as Lancaster seems very open minded and capable of seeing things from another persons (or nations) perspective. Don’t expect it to happen again, I’m sure they will learn from it, but I hope we don’t lose all the open and transparent communications as a result.

        1. A bit of a surprise from Lancaster? After last year’s gaffe with announcing the Leicester Tigers’ injury list while Leicester were still trying to keep it to themselves, I’m not sure he does think that much.

  13. This is the backfiring of England allowing the media unprecedented access to their team.

    To try and recover from all the anti-England media during the 2011 RWC, SL has allowed the media more access to England than they have with any othe team. The result will be that things like this do come out in the press.

    But ultimately we all need to be realistic. There have most likely been 100’s of complaints to the IRB in recent months, but with the IRB being so disfunctional internally, nothing gets done. The result is that coaches get so frustrated that they view the only option as to go public. Rowntree is not the first, and isn’t the last either. As people have mentioned, Cockerill has done it. Brian smith has done it. And Connor O’Shea has backed up Rowntree by saying he too wants clarity over the scrum and breakdown.

    From the final whistle England have agreed that Wales deserved the win, and no one is claiming a reversal of result. What is happening here is coaches getting sick of incompetent officiating at the highest level, and they have decided to voice the opinions publicly, because the official channels clearly are not working.

  14. perhaps from a british lions point of view it would have been best not to bring the problems with the front rows up.the welsh front row who will probably be the lions front row will now have alot of attention paid to their technique.It will be easy for referees to penalise them rightly or wrongly especially as they have apparently admitted collapsing the scrum 6 times deliberately.I suspect that the refs will now think them the villians when the scrum collapses or there are binding problems. This will obviously favour the aussies. Could this be all part of the southern hemispheres master plan to disrupt the lions. probably not ? but then again.

    1. It’s a risky bet if there is indeed any truth behind the welsh admitting it.

      But it could be quite a decent gamble if it pays off. After all, the IRB will surely have to put refs who are known to have exceptional knowledge of the scrum on the lions games. That way the lions will be able to gain proper dominance and the wallabies will not be able to collapse it because the pressure is too great.

      Hopefully we will have decent scrum refs on the lions tour, because it will be one of our most effective weapons against the Aussies.

Comments are closed.