Every year, rugby enthusiasts all over the Bay of Plenty put their hearts and souls into the game they love. In 2019, just like every other year, administrators, coaches, managers, officials, teachers, parents and players came together to make it happen on the field. A highlight on the Bay of Plenty Rugby event calendar every year is the annual awards night where those who contribute to the game in our region are celebrated. This year's event is being held in Rotorua on Wednesday night. Sports reporter David Beck looks at what the event includes and who the finalists are.
On Wednesday night, the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union will pay tribute to its best performing and most dedicated participants.
The Bay of Plenty Rugby Awards celebrate not only those who performed best on the field but also those working hard off it to provide others with opportunities.
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Bay of Plenty Rugby chief executive Mike Rogers said the event, being held at the Distinction Hotel in Rotorua from 6.30pm on Wednesday, was a highlight on the calendar each year.
"It's an opportunity for us to recognise the contribution that people have made right through all of our game, in terms of our community game, our schools and clubs, our volunteers and then obviously recognising the hard work that goes into the performance side of our game.
"It's a chance to celebrate the contribution and success that clubs, schools and individuals have had throughout the year. It's one night where we can take a deep breath and actually enjoy what our sport is all about."
Bay of Plenty's representative sides, from the Roller Mills and Under-19 teams to the Steamers and Volcanix, have all had successful years. Rogers said success at the high performance level started at the grass roots in the community.
"You've got to have a strong foundation to your game to have a performance environment that is successful as well. What our clubs and schools do, the quality of the coaching and the support from an administration point of view that our rugby people get in the Bay is fantastic. We're lucky to have such amazing support for our game.
"The players have got to start somewhere and if you look at any given Saturday, when you've got the junior players running around, it's amazing the talent and how well supported they are in the Bay of Plenty. In the boys and the girls there's just amazing talent."
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As well as the community awards, there are a range of awards up for grabs at the high performance level. Given the success of the Steamers this year in particular, they will be hotly contested.
Rogers said it was important to celebrate what had been a good year, but what would be even more crucial was building on that momentum.
"We do have some good years but we unfortunately have backed them up historically with some pretty average years. That's something we have talked about a lot - that we are able to consistently perform at the level we want to.
"The first thing is the people, getting the right people involved makes a huge impact in terms of consistency levels. In terms of the performance level end, we want to create a really good environment that people want to be a part of. I think then you can sustain success.
"At the community level of the game, which is just as important for us in terms of growing the game, we have to be really innovative. We can't keep doing the same old stuff, we have to change to meet the changes in society."
Community Award Finalists
Grass Roots Trust Administrator of the Year:
Russell Smart (Greerton Marist Recreation & Community Sports Club), Carolyn Katu (Rotorua Girls' High School), Donna Bidois (Te Puna Rugby Football Club).
Farmlands Co-operative Club team of the Year:
Ngongotahā Development, Te Teko Premier, Te Puna Development, Mount Maunganui Premier Women, Whakatane Marist Under-11.
R80 Club of the Year:
Edgecumbe Rugby Club, Te Puna Rugby Football Club.
SPARK for Service to Sport:
Ron Pearson (Greerton Marist Recreation & Community Sports Club), Rodney Voullaire (Mount Maunganui Sports Club), Charles Kuka (Te Puna Rugby Football Club), George Rogers (Eastern Bay Junior Advisory Board (JAB) and the Eastern Bay Sub-Union), Ron Henderson (Tauranga Sports Club).
FMG Rugby Good Sorts:
Darryl Jessop (Greerton Marist Recreation & Community Sports Club), Shane Chapman (Ōpōtiki Sports), Sean Lett (Te Puna Rugby Football Club), Phil Falamoe (Greerton Marist Recreation & Community Sports Club), George Rogers (Eastern Bay Junior Advisory Board (JAB) and the Eastern Bay Sub-Union), Steve Orr (John Paul College), Tim Hounsell (John Paul College).
SPARK Club Coach of Year:
Steven Byford (Whakatāne Marist Junior), Dennis Beckett (Ngongotahā Sports and Community Association), John Haynes-Dodd (Tauranga Sports Premier), Aidan Kuka (Te Puna Rugby Football Club).
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology Female club player of the year:
Calli Perrott (Rangiuru), Jade Tuilaepa (Rangataua), Kelsie Wills (Mount Maunganui Sports Club), Luka Connor (Rangataua).
SPARK Male club player of the year:
Phil Falamoe (Greerton Marist), Rewita Biddle (Te Puna Rugby Football Club), Emoni Narawa (Tauranga Sports Club), Seamus Bardoul (Tauranga Sports Club).
Toi Ohomai Secondary School Programme of the Year:
Pāpāmoa College, Trident High School, Mt Maunganui College, John Paul College, Te Wharekura o Mauao.
Bethlehem Coachlines Secondary School Coach of the Year:
Jimi McLean (Rotorua Girls' High School), Jarrod Clarke (Mt Maunganui College), Leander Huiarangi (Katikati College), Brett Wharewera (Trident High School).
Representative Award Categories - No finalists, winners announced on the night
One Foundation Te Waiariki Player of the Year
Distinction Hotels Mens 7's Player of the Year
TECT Womens 7's Player of the Year
Samurai U16 Girls Player of the Year
Samurai U16 Boys Player of the Year
Samuari U18 Boys Player of the Year
Samuari U18 Girls Player of the Year
Classic Builders-Bay of Plenty Toa Player of the Year
Ngāwhā Player of the Year
DVS Volcanix Player of the Year
DVS Volcanix Back of the Year
DVS Volcanix Forward of the Year
Samuari Volcanix Team Award (Players' Player of the Year)
Good Buzz Steamers Player of the Year
SPARK Award For Player Community Service
Aquaheat Steamers Forward of the Year
Horizon Energy Group Steamers Back of the Year
Craigs Investment Partners Steamers Rookie of the Year
Samuari Steamers Team Award (Players' Player of the Year)
Special Acknowledgement Award
WASPS Emerging Representative Player of the Year
Lion Foundation Representative Coach of the Year
NZCT Representative Team of the year
TCC Sports Person of the Year (chosen from all player award winners)
CARRUS Supreme Award (chosen from all player, coach and ref awards)