VOTING IS NOW CLOSED – We’ll announce the winners in a special podcast at the end of October
Thank you to everyone who put in their nominations for our 10th Anniversary Awards. We’ve collected the nominations and put together a shortlist in each category. Now it’s time to vote for your favourites.
The poll is open for the next two weeks. You can find the link at the bottom of the post once you’ve read up on each nominee.
Scottish Player Of The Decade
Chris Paterson – It’s terrifying to think about where Scottish rugby might be were it not for Mossy’s freakish consistency and range from the tee. Scotland’s reputation pre-Cotter was in tatters and were it not for Paterson’s metronomic kicking saving the cause time and time again Scotland might have slipped down the rankings into obscurity. Paterson was on his 83rd cap when we started the blog, eventually finishing on 109, a record until Ross Ford broke it this summer. Paterson remains Scotland’s highest points scorer (809) and it’s hard to see that being overtaken any time soon. All of this despite the obvious disadvantage of coming from Gala.
Sean Lamont – Another huge contributor to the Scotland cause. During Scotland’s dark ages Lamont would be the one taking the game by the scruff of the neck and putting his body on the line time and time again. A useful utility player found on the wing and at centre (and in the back row at one point if this writer’s memory serves him correctly) he has seen things you wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.
Stuart Hogg – Hogg first came to the fore in a blistering display for Scotland A against England Saxons in 2012 with Scotland running out 35-0 winners. This earned Hogg a call up to the first team squad and after a barnstorming appearance from the bench against Wales he has never looked back. His precocious talent was sometimes sullied by poor temperament but Hogg appears to have put this behind him in recent years and has amassed 92 points for Scotland in 52 appearances as well as two Lions tours. At only 25 years of age he is likely to remain a mainstay of the Scotland team for many years to come. Potentially a future contender for breaking Scotland’s all-time cap and try record. Hogg is currently only two tries shy of passing Gregor Townsend’s tally of 17 and just 10 shy of breaking the overall record. All this despite the obvious disadvantage of coming from Hawick.
Grieg Laidlaw – In just 58 appearances “Rugby Jesus” has managed to become Scotland’s third all-time points scorer behind Gavin Hastings and Chris Paterson. Laidlaw has also made the most appearances for Scotland as captain despite coming to international rugby relatively late in his career. Often maligned for being too slow to get the ball away from the base of the ruck, Laidlaw’s game management skills have grown in recent times earning him a call-up to the 2017 Lions. One can only wonder how the Lions would have fared if Laidlaw had started all the test matches. All this despite the obvious disadvantage of coming from Jed.
Overseas Player Of The Decade
Leone Nakarawa – The Weegie from Fiji with the hands of David Blaine, able to complete one-handed passes he has no business attempting, let alone completing. A key component of Glasgow’s Pro 12 victory in 2015 and it might be argued that neither he nor Glasgow have quite been the same since.
Niko Matawalu – The other Weegie from Fiji with skills to both dazzle and frustrate. Often guilty of taking a “f*** it I’ll do it myself” approach to games with horrifying results, but watching him jink thorough opposition defences was, at times, a sheer filthy pleasure.
DTH Van Der Merwe – The Weegie from Saskatchewan? The South African born Canadian winger scored 215 points in 96 appearances for Glasgow Warriors and like his two Fijian colleagues was part of the “classic” Glasgow XV that claimed the Pro 12 trophy in 2015, scoring tries in the semi-final and the final.
Only non-Scots qualified players were eligible. Players who qualified on residency such as WP Nel were excluded.
#Justice4Roddy Award For The Criminally Undercapped
Roddy Grant – A mainstay in the Edinburgh back row for years and capped for Scotland 7s and Scotland A but never the first XV. Perhaps unlucky to have been playing at a time when Scotland had a wealth of talent in the back row but there was a period under Andy Robinson and Scott Johnson when Scotland were badly in need of a fetcher with Grant’s particular set of skills. However, it was not to be – despite a social media campaign by this blog which gave this award its name.
Thom Evans – The criminality of Evans lack of caps lies not with having been overlooked, but rather with criminal bad luck following a horrific injury against Wales in 2010 at the age of 24 that ended his career. Evans had pace and promise and Scotland were badly in need of someone with his talents in the years that followed. Evans is now pursuing a career in acting.
Ross Rennie – Rennie was the man who broke up the Killer B’s hold on the Scotland back row and seemed destined for greatness. However a run of injuries hampered his progress and he moved down to Bristol where he has a small renaissance under Andy Robinson with many tipping him for an international comeback. He was eventually forced to retire due to a neck injury. Rennie now works as a property manager for luxury ski chalets in France.
John Barclay – Not since the days of the Bible has there been such a resurrection. From out in the cold to Scotland captain in just over a year, Barclay’s return to the International scene has been as surprising as it has been welcome. There was a time when opensides became unfashionable in a Scotland jersey and this as well as rumours of strained relationships with coaches meant Barclay was left out in the cold despite superb performances for Scarlets where he is fast becoming a loc. Now firmly ensconced in the camp and on a one-man mission to keep Stuart Hogg’s feet on the ground.
Steven Shingler – Shingler was called up to Scotland’s 2012 Six Nations training squad. However it turned out he had already committed himself to Wales. Shingler has yet to win a cap for Wales and currently plays for Cardiff Blues.
Scottish Rugby’s Moment Of The Decade
2015 World Cup Quarter Final vs Australia – There are so many moments that stand out from this match – both good and bad. Somehow, the entire game seemed to perfectly encapsulate the history of Scottish rugby in a single 80 minute match. Two years have passed and this is the most this writer can bear to write about the game: my keyboard is soaked in bitter tears.
Melrose Winning Their Own Sevens in 2011 – The Melrose 7s is a crowning moment in the Scottish Rugby calendar each year with teams from around the world coming to compete for this historic and much-coveted prize. Melrose’s victory was all the more impressive in a tournament featuring a South African team with three IRB World Series players in its ranks as well as New Zealand provincial champions Waikato. All this despite the obvious disadvantage of coming from Melrose.
Scotland 7s Victory in 2017 – Scotland went into the 2017 London 7s as reigning champions and there is an argument to say that victory should have been put forward for the vote too. However, the 2017 victory was made all the more impressive after Scotland beat New Zealand in the quarter finals 24-21 having been 21-0 down at half time. The fact Scotland retained the trophy also demonstrated the vast strides made by a team threatened with extinction just two years previously.
Berwick Rugby Club Drinking The Orkney Ferry Dry – In January 2016 we ran an article covering Berwick’s mammoth journey to play Orkney in the National Leagues. The story caught the imagination of a number of our readers as it cast a light on the financial pressures facing small clubs up and down the country. However the stand out quote of the piece concerned the discovery by some in the travelling party than paying £7.50 upgrade to first class on the ferry entitled you to complimentary drinks with the bar having to be refilled three times in the hour and a half crossing.
Jo Ansbro & Al Strockosh headbutting each other after beating Australia in 2012 – Words cannot do justice to such a moment. Why not just sit back and enjoy:
Coach Of The Decade
Gregor Townsend – After an underwhelming start to his coaching career as an assistant to Andy Robinson, Townsend was parachuted into Glasgow at Sean Lineen’s expense. That move was questioned by some at the time but Townsend has cemented his reputation as one of the most respected young coaches in the world after leading Glasgow to victory in the Pro 12. Townsend is now looking to take his talents to the international stage and has made a strong start with Scotland.
Vern Cotter – Scottish rugby has a lot to thank Big Vern for. Perhaps he has gone to Montpellier too soon and time will tell if the SRU made the right call replacing him with Townsend but he left as the most successful Scottish coach of the professional era with a 53% win rate. Cotter radically changed Scotland’s approach to rugby, allowing players free reign to play the game in front of them, and taking Scotland to fifth in the World Rankings. He seemed to take Scotland to heart as much as we claimed him as one of our own. Perhaps he understood us better than any of us will ever understand ourselves. He also (allegedly) made Richie Gray kill a rabbit with his bare hands.
Scott Johnson – Johnson cuts a controversial figure amongst many Scotland fans and his time as interim Scotland coach will be recalled more for his numerous sound bites than performances on the pitch. However he laid the groundwork for Cotter’s time in charge and blooded players such as Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar and Sean Maitland. Since then Johnson has retreated to the shadows and despite the controversy surrounding the potential loss of the 7s team, his work in getting the Academy set up in Scotland right is beginning to pay off in a big way.
Sean Lineen – It might be argued that Sean Lineen set the foundations for Townsend’s success at Scotstoun. Townsend inherited a decent squad and Glasgow were competitive. Lineen went on to work with Scotland’s Under 20’s turning them into a side that could compete with the likes of Ireland and Wales in days before the Academy set up was firmly in place. Lineen now works on recruiting overseas players to Scotland, a controversial role but one that has brought great short term benefits to the national side.
Calum MacRae – MacRae took over as 7s coach in the 2014/15 season. At the time the 7s team had been long neglected by the SRU and just one year into MacRae’s tenure looked to be on the brink of being disbanded altogether. It is credit to the work MacRae has done that the 7s is no longer under threat and is now an integral part of the SRU’s player development plans, giving young players an opportunity to play in a high pressured international arena. The 7s team has also become hugely competitive under MacRae winning back to back titles in London and finishing 7th in overall rankings in 2016/17. He is now Edinburgh’s defence coach.
Cult Hero Of The Decade
Girth – Geoff “Girth” Cross. The bearded behemoth. A man who seemed to love scrummaging more than life itself. Girth cemented his place as a cult hero within seconds of his debut against Wales in 2009 when he knocked himself out tackling Lee Byrne in the air and was shown the yellow card whilst being stretchered unconscious from the pitch. Girth is now a qualified GP.
Chunk – Allan “Chunk” Jacobsen was described as “an Oxo cube on legs” by the late Bill McLaren. To everyone else he will always be Chunk. An apt nickname for a man who at times looked like a throwback to the days of amateur rugby. However his outward appearance concealed surprising turn of pace and handling skills rarely found in a prop. He played some of his schoolboy career as a 10. Part Weeble, part Mighty Mouse, part Ram-Man there were few greater sights than Chunk at full pelt, shirt down to his knees, ball in hand punching holes in an opposition defence. Chunk is now a plumber in Edinburgh and continued playing for Watsonians after his retirement.
Gordy Reid – A cult hero not just for the infamous “Gordy shuffle” try celebration but for drawing parallels between Scotland and the Mighty Ducks prior to Scotland’s quarter final with Australia at the 2015 World Cup. “Everyone is writing us off as underdogs. I don’t care. It’s awesome. Just look at the movies. It’s always the underdog who wins – just look at the Mighty Ducks. We can be those Mighty Ducks.” The quote spawned a series of niche memes online and will live on as one of the all time classic Scottish rugby quotes.
Sean “orange gloves” Lamont – We’ve already covered Lamont’s contributions to the game but his services to fashion in the shape of his bleached blonde tips and orange glove combo made him hard to miss on the pitch. Lamont gamely agreed to bring back the hair in aid of charity for his last game before retiring raising over £8,000. Sadly the orange gloves remained in the drawer.
Richie “he plays where he wants to” Vernon – Back row come centre Richie Vernon has become a cult hero at Glasgow with his boy band good looks and ability to cover every position on the field. The ladies love him and the guys want to be him. And he once wrote for the blog, with tour diaries from the World Cup in New Zealand in 2011.
Big Vern – From the day he was named as Scotland coach Big Vern Cotter was a cult hero. With his steely glare and granite like build Scotland fans were simultaneously terrified and delighted with his appointment. Not since the days of Jim Telfer have Scotland players had the fear of God put in to them and BVC was rumoured to have marched the squad up a French mountain in their kit and made them kill and cook their own dinner with their bare hands. Not a man to show his emotions, the mask slipped a little after his final game at Murrayfield and a nation wept with him.
Please don’t vote in the comments as they won’t be counted.