Taranaki snubbed in team of the year category
Thursday, Dec 02 2021
Taranaki rugby supporters are perplexed by the finalists at the upcoming New Zealand Rugby Awards.
Bulls coach Neil Barnes is nominated for coach of the year, but his team was snubbed as a finalist in the team of the year category.
It’s raised eyebrows after Taranaki completed a stellar season which included an unbeaten record, for the first time since 1985, won the championship division and had the best record across the two divisions. They were also the first team to beat all premiership teams in cross-over matches, since the format began in 2011.
Heartland winners South Canterbury are nominated in the category for their unbeaten and title winning season. The Waikato men’s national provincial championship side is also a nominee for winning the competition, despite being beaten by Taranaki. Waikato’s women’s team is also a finalist.
It’s another blow for the union, which was denied a chance to be promoted into the premiership division next year.
Taranaki fans took to social media to express how they felt.
“Not to receive a nomination is total BS and seriously detracts from the credibility of these awards. Bloody pathetic,” Paul Meuli wrote.
Greg Rowlands said it was a joke the team didn’t get a mention.
Rochelle Fleming questioned the nominations.
“How the heck are they not team of the year. You guys are awesome anyway, we all know it, the whole country knows it, even if they won’t admit it,” she said.
Taranaki Rugby chief executive, Laurence Corlett, said while it would be an honour for the team to have been nominated, the primary goal for 2021 was to go out and make the people of Taranaki proud.
“I know we achieved this, and we will be even more motivated next season to return to the top of provincial rugby."
In a statement, New Zealand Rugby said an independent judging panel considers a range of factors in deciding the nominees including, but not exclusively, on field results.
"The four finalists were all considered worthy nominees for the national team of the year after outstanding seasons on and off the field."
They did not discount Taranaki's season and said they "should be proud of their achievements."
Aside from Barnes, Taranaki hasn’t been left out of the awards altogether. Fullback Stephen Perofeta is up for the Duane Monkley Medal after scoring the highest number of points this year.
All Black Jordie Barrett is up for All Blacks player of the year.
Teammate Josh Lord is nominated for age grade player of the year and Hawera’s Gayle Broughton is a finalist for Black Ferns sevens player of the year.
Corlett congratulated all the nominees, especially those from Taranaki.