Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ruck 'n' Roll Awards 2014: Part One

The first games of 2015 have been played and the year promises to be an action packed one. As well as the usual league, cup and regular international action, we have the joy of another World Cup on British soil to revel in. However, before we indulge in a glut of top class rugby, it's award season. Lets celebrate with our own Oscars; the Ruck ‘n’ Roll Awards 2014.

Team of the Year
Ireland had a fantastic year. Pipping England at the post to lift the Six Nations trophy, defeating Southern Hemisphere big boys and moving up to third in the IRB World rankings. However, England's Women will no doubt push the female form of the game to the next level in this country. Their World Cup win has led to some earning central contracts ahead of the Olympics in Rio and will surely increase interest in the women's game.

Player of the Year
It was a close call with All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick, but Duane Vermeulen is the Ruck 'n' Roll player of the year. The Springboks would have been a much lesser side without him. A big ball carrier, comprehensive jackaler and a tackle like a runaway freight train. Vermeulen has earned the nickname Thor and he is every bit as powerful as the Marvel character, even without a hammer.

Match of the Year
That unbelievable second Wales-South Africa summer test. The Welshmen turned up at Nelspruit aiming to do what not even the greats had done. A Welsh win in South Africa was mythical and seven days before the 'Boks showed why, hammering Wales in Durban.
Amazingly, Wales led 17-0 - and later 30-17 - before yellow cards and a penalty try eventually saw them go behind with 2 minutes on the clock and break Welsh hearts again.
TV Show of the Year
Jonathan's 10 Year Specials were great and Rugby Tonight is a breath of fresh air in rugby programming. However, School of Hard Knocks is the best programme around. Funny, shocking and uplifting, SoHKs is great viewing. If you didn't like the programme itself you can always watch for the ever excitable Scott Quinnell and more serene Will Greenwood. The pair are so fantastic, they even make Sky's rugby coverage bearable.
Tit of the Year
Australian fullback Kurtley Beale and the picture of an overweight woman with hers out that he sent to business manager Di Patston.
Twits of the Year
Andy Powell has had his fair share of bad press in the past, but when his own wife Natasha Gascoigne took to Twitter to reveal all it was a new low for the backrower. Affairs, gambling, alcohol problems; the allegations kept coming as the world watched with morbid curiosity. However, when the pet names for their genitals was tweeted it was a step too far. Now the couple have patched up their differences and are back together.

Twats of the Year
Sorry ruck 'n' rollers, this year it's the fans. Not all fans I hasten to add, but there have been a number of incidents this year that have sullied the good name of the sport. Booing kicks has slowly crept in at far too many stadiums. Wales fans lowered the tone further by booing their own player in an act of idiocy so incredible it made Joey Essex look like Stephen Hawking.
However, not to be outdone, a group of fans hurled "nasty, foul-mouthed, racist, homophobic abuse" at referee Nigel Owens. The RFU responded with a two year ban.
Tweeter of the Year
It was the year that Wales Online journalist Simon Thomas signed a dual contract with Facebook, but Thomas stayed true to Twitter. Informative, knowledgeable and willing to engage with fans - even when they aren't too accommodating themselves - Thomas is a credit to his profession, employers and himself.
Biggest Rise
At the end of 2013 Samson Lee had only made a handful of international appearances and lay behind Adam and Rhodri Jones in the tighthead stakes. Now Samson Lee is first in line for the number three jersey. In the autumn internationals Lee spent more time on the field than any other prop and didn't give away a single penalty. Who says the scrums are a lottery?

Biggest Fall
At the start of 2014 Kelly Brown was Scotland's talisman. An imposing backrow with the captain's armband. However, something went awry. He was dropped for the Calcutta Cup game despite being fully fit before being reinstated one game later. The Saracens man was then overlooked for the summer tours and Autumn Internationals leaving his Scotland career in the balance.

Emotional Farewells
Two of the greatest players of the professional era hung up their boots. Both Jonny Wilkinson and Brian O'Driscoll retired from the game, both with fully deserved 'rugby legend' status.

Keep an eye out for part two of the awards where we hand out awards for Twitter spats, The Lord Lucan Award and the awe inspiring Warrior Award.
Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk

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