Rāhui forward Joel Winterburn was awarded Heartland Player of the Year and Māori Player of the Year at the Horowhenua-Kāpiti Rugby Union Awards this week.
It had been a vintage season for the Rāhui team, who had gone through the season unbeaten on their way to winning the HK club rugby championship's Ramsbottom Cup - Winterburn typifying the efforts of all those players involved.
Rāhui coaches Slade Sturmey and Makaore Beavan-Wilson were awarded Coach of the Year. But Beavan-Wilson and Sturmey were quick to point out that they were only interim coaches only and the kudos belonged with coach Sam Doyle, who had to step back early in the season after a cancer diagnosis requiring treatment.
They said the lockdown had motivated many to return home to Rāhui and the team was highly motivated throughout the season.
Shannon, who were gallant in defeat to Rāhui in a club rugby final to remember, were winners of the Robinson Rosebowl Club Trophy- awarded by the referees association, while utility back Sean Pape was awarded the Most Promising Player award.
Nicola Wallace from the Athletic club was awarded the Saturday Morning Volunteer of theYeara trophy. She said she enjoyed watching kids play every week and chase their dreams.
Bob Wiki from Shannon also got Club Supporter of the Year from his club. It cracked him up he said to get one from the union too. He said the award was for all supporters who turn out week after week, rain, hail or shine.
Wiki , a former lock forward for Horowhenua, said he got a real kick out supporting club rugby and seeing young players come through the ranks. It was a credit to the clubs and the union for nurturing young players and giving them opportunities.
Club Referee of the Year Sam Thompson said it had been great to see the clubs getting stronger and stronger year after year and especially watching so many junior player coming up through the ranks. "A testament to the efforts of the volunteers," he said.
HK chairman John Cribb said 2020 was season like no other. The union had gone from the prospect of having no rugby to a shortened club competition that produced a high standard of rugby.
While Covid-19 put paid to the traditional Heartland championship, he said it was great that HK were able to play four representative matches through the year and fielded teams made up entirely of home grown players.
It was a chance to blood more 12 newcomers and that would hold the team in good stead for next season, he said.
Things were holding up on the financial front post Covid-19 too. HKRU CEO Corey Kennett said the union was able to post its 12th consecutive surplus, due mainly to the fact there were no costs associated with competing in the Heartland championship.
They were also able to get through Covid-19 without any loss of staff, a credit to the work they did, he said.
The awards were hosted by Beach FM radio announcer Damian Collins, who had piloted a hugely popular television link through the club season. The efforts of Collins and his commentary team had added another dimension to the club rugby, with the ability to watch and review club games giving the season a real edge.
Collins quickly came up to speed with all the teams involved and his enthusiasm for the game was infectious.
Kevin de Castro KB Swain Trophy for the most referee points received: Levin College Old Boys.
Robinson Rosebowl Club: Shannon
Saturday Morning Volunteer of the Year: Nicola Wallace from Athletic.
Club Supporter of the Year: Bob Wiki from Shannon.
Club Volunteer of the Year: Jane Chamberlain from Waikanae.
Cluib Referee of the Year: Sam Thompson.
Club Coach of the Year: Slade Sturmey and Makaore Beavan-Wilson from Rāhui.
Māori Player of the Year: Joel Winterburn
Sevens Player of the Year: Sharn Rohloff.
Heartland Most Promising Player: Sean Pape.
Heartland Most Improved Player: Sonny Woodmass.
Heartland Player of the Year: Joel Winterburn.