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