Before we announce the long awaited results of the inaugural Manpilez Awards, we’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who sent in nominations, promoted us and, most importantly, to those who voted! The response to our humble little blog continues to amaze us; the day the polls opened was our busiest ever and over the week that followed, over 1500 of you put your mouses where your mouths are and cast your votes.
The polls have been pretty telling – it’s safe to say that a fair few of you share our appreciation of fine looking forwards and beautiful backs given the big response to what we dubbed The Hormonal awards and we also realised that out attempts to curtail our Welsh Bias were either a) failing or b) unnecessary as the votes seemed to stack up highest the further down the M4 the nominees were from!
And now, without further ado, we’re pleased to announce your winners!
Represent! The good, the bad and the downright regrettable marketing and PR moments of 2010…
– The “Where’s Mine?!” Award for Best Kit and The “You Want Me To Wear What?!” Award for Worst Kit
However much you love your team, the chances are they’ve had at least one kit which you haven’t been keen on. What they’re wearing dictates what you’ll be wearing on your weekends for the better part of a year, so whose was the most desirable strip in 2010 and whose left you running in fear to the nearest GAP, desperate to purchase the blandest, least offensive garment you could find?
Secretly fearing the worst after a glimpse of the training kit (it was a bit… busy); it was love at first sight for Lauren and Anna, two self-confessed purple addicts, when the new Ospreys kit was unveiled. We’re very happy that you agreed with us and voted in droves for the indigo chevron look! In an awesome exercise of neutrality, you lovely people voted the Barbarians kit your runner-up.
Captain Alun Wyn Jones shows off the winning kit in fine style
Your least favourite, by a long shot, was the new Wales kit, which is saying a lot in a year when Stade Francais offered up this eyesore: Incidentally, Gigi’s garm placed second, but it was the newly Admiral sponsored Welsh national kit that turned up your noses, with cries of “It looks like a football kit!” and “Bring back the Brains!”
The real opinion splitter of this year’s looks was the England Anthracite Grey strip, which attracted exactly the same amount of votes in each category. Love it or hate it, the attempted justification from Nike that it’s “the colour of the thorn of the English rose” remains highly dubious.
– The What The Shit Is This? Award for Daftest Piece of Merchandise
After Anna’s piece in the autumn highlighting the various and delightful pieces of tat club shops across the nations are touting, we asked you which ones you couldn’t quite believe you’d coughed up cold hard cash for. It was a close call, but eventually, you decided that Mugs bearing the face of Emyvale’s favourite son, Tommy Bowe, were the most regrettable, no matter how much it warms your hearts to see him go over the whitewash, he shouldn’t be keeping your PG tips warm when you get home. Noteable mentions also go to Ospreys Dummies, Scarlets curtains and plastic ducks of every nation.
– The Barry Scott Award for Most Hilarious Advert, Promo Moment or Photo Shoot
Every year, our pitchside heroes sell tiny bits of their souls in the search for their retirement funds. Sometimes, it’s a clear and logical part of the job; for example Lee Byrne and Shane Williams advertising fitness suppliments or James Haskell promoting… himself. But occasionally, a team or player does something so bizarre that it doen’t matter what the product, charity or competition is, you’ll never be able to take it seriously again. Surprisingly enough, this category was won outright by Gavin Henson. You see, we had so many nominations for daft publicity stunts from His Satsumaness that we had to consolidate him into one easy to handle nomination, which he stormed with nearly 50% of the vote. Even in the face of Bath getting their teddy bears out for no descernible cause. Oh dear.
– The It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time Award
This one should surely have belonged to Joel Monaghan and his shamed canine counterpart, yet even ill advised bestial photography wasn’t enough to make you forget the WRU’s ever-so-sensitive placing of a giant Gavin Henson on the side of the Millennium Stadium to coincide with the launch of the award winningly bad new Wales kit.
Never one to be outdone, big Gav’s turn on the dance floor also had you clapping your palms to your faces as it proved to be more toe-curling than toe-tapping.
The Breakdown… because the nice thighs are an added bonus, not the reason we’re here…
– The I Gotta Feeling Award for Best Game
You’re not a true rugby fan until you’ve travelled half the country chasing your team’s dream only to spend 2 hours in a cold stadium having your heart broken one pass at a time. Sometimes it’s hard to remember why we’re doing it, and then something happens, some master stroke, a magic moment that switches a game from depression to ecstasy, a build of energy that leaves you hardly able to stay in your seat from one minute to the next, where the whole crowd come together so you’re lifted so high you’ll be bouncing on air for a week. 2010 was, thankfully, a year of moments like that for many teams, from New Zealand’s efforts in the tri nations to The Magners League Final that nearly wouldn’t quit but one game stood out above all others to anyone in the northern hemisphere.
The scene:Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, Scotland were on fire and the men in Red had been fighting a losing battle… until Shane Williams made a break for the line with just 7 minutes to go. Nobody quite knew why, but from that moment on, we all believed Wales could come from behind, no matter how impossible it looked on the board. Moments later Leigh Halfpenny managed to make it over the ine after a failed attempt from Batman Roberts and before we knew it 14-24 had become a staggering 31-24. My heart is still pounding almost a year later and even the neutrals out there were glued to the scenes like Wales were playing for their own survival. For 10 minutes one cold and rainy afternoon in February 2010, Everyone that wasn’t Scottish was Welsh.
– The Don’t Call It a Comeback Award for Best Return
Sadly, Rugby is the kind of sport where nobody is immune from the twisted fate of injury or the ringing sound of a wrapped knuckle. Last year was no exception but your winner was not a victim of injury or the IRB citing committee, but of the mother of all hangovers. As was well covered by the Pre-manpilez press at the time, one member of the Wales squad chose to celebrate a little too much after the aforementioned dramatic scenes against Scotland. In a golf buggy. On the M4.
After that, Mr Gatland banished Andy Powell from the squad, but while some thought his Wales Career was over, he kept chipping away behind the scenes both for Cardiff Blues and Wasps and come the Autumn Internationals he was back. And not only was he back, he was better than ever before, proving to all doubters why he deserved to represent his country again.
Well done, Gorby, you won your place in the squad and in the hearts of the Manpilez readers.
Honourable mentions must also go to Irish Ledge-Bag Paul O’Connell who had a frustrating period of staring angrily as Munster misbehaved in his absence before coming back to whip them into shape and Mefin Davies who came back to his Ospreylian Roots after a spell in Leicester of all places.
– The Workhorse Award for Best All Round Performance
Based on our search stats, we knew Tom Croft would end up winning Something, but to be honest, we thought it’d a) be in the more hormonal categories and b) nowhere near as close as this. Thankfully, you lovely lot have proved that while you keep finding us looking for young Mr Croft in various states of undress, the real reason you admire him so is for his grafting on the field. Whether he’s stealing line out ball, driving scrums or making like a winger, you can always count on Crofty to put in the work.
However, just three votes separated Tom from our two runners up, Mr Richie McCaw is a controversial character, but nobody can deny he shows up and puts the work in, usually even when he should probably be in the bin. However, in the case of our second Runner up Ryan Jones, many have tried to deny his quality over the last 18 months, which the Newport lad has countered by putting in some absolutely belting performances for region and country, and generally proving himself to be a bit of a ledge.
– The Jiffy Screaming “Don’t Panic!” Award for Most Heartstopping Moment
We can’t say we’re surprised at the winner of this one, those last 10 minutes of the Wales v Scotland game which you voted your match of the year, and frankly it wasn’t even close. We’ve already waxed poetical about the ins and outs of the incident in question, but nothing quite sums it up as well as seeing it. So here’s a Youtube clip.
– The Chris Ashton Award for Best Try
Anna suggested the title of this award as a joke as there seemed to be little doubt that Ashy‘s jaw dropping try in October’s England v Australia game would sweep the board. Needless to say, you were all as impressed as us and no doubt held onto the memory with the aid of Lauren’s MS Paint skills. Our Welsh readers left only a slim margin between Ashton and the irrepressible Shane Williams, however, with his little gem against Scotland in the Six Nations coming a close second and also showed support for George North with his international debut coming in third.
– The Ledge-Bag Award for All-Round Hero
Let’s face it as soon as BOD was nominated in this category, we should have known what was going to happen. Half of Ireland want to be him or worship at his church when he’s wearing green and the other half are busy pretending to hate him while he’s donning the blue of Leinster. A legend on the field and a philosopher off it, It was always going to be Brian O’Driscoll.
That didn’t however, mean he didn’t have some serious competition in the form of the amost Jack Russell-like Welsh winger Shane Williams. Even Scarlet’s supporters can’t begrudge Shane a try, as when he’s on form (which is nearly always), the tries don’t just come, but they come bang on time and out of seemingly nothing. We love Shane, you love Shane, and we’re all glad he’s back in time to tear up the Six Nations.
The Hormonal Section… because the nice thighs really are an awesome added bonus…
– The Dropped Handkerchief Award for Most Swoon Worthy Player:
There’s was never really much doubt in our minds over which way this one would swing as soon as the nominations came in. Since our launch, one man has brought more people to our blog than any other (although Tom Croft is a strong contender!) That man is your Most Swoon Worthy Player, Tommy Bowe. Maybe it’s the smooth Irish tones, the butter-wouldn’t-melt smile or even the ability to save potentially disastrous dinners with impressive chocolate fondant, but whatever he’s doing, Tommy’s status as Manpilez Poster Boy #1 is now officially secured! Your runner-up was the equally lovely Olly Barkley, whose erudite wit and Twitter babysitting banter has been setting a fair few hearts a-flutter.
Your most lusted after player, Sir Thomas of Bowe
– The Sorry I Forgot What You Look Like Fully Clothed Award for Hottest Photo
To be perfectly honest, we were a little surprised at the winner of this one. Based on comments we received through the three channels our site stats and our general demeanour, we assumed Danny Care’s fans were going elsewhere for their kicks. We were wrong, and of all the beautiful slices of naked manflesh on offer from the Dieux Du Stade to the Matt Hampson offering, Danny Care’s stint of near obscenity in the Rugby’s Finest Calendar won the lion’s share of your votes. Once again, however you lovely lot proved you’re all about style over filth and your runner up was the really rather overdressed Olly Barkley in this year’s Bath Rugby Calendar. Lush.
Your winning image
– The Oh Daddy Award for Hottest New Father
Your run away winner was Ryan Jones, who left the other daddies trailing in the dust. In a year which has seen our RyJo scapegoated and snubbed, he managed to maintain his awesomeness and dignity while also becoming a father and sporting a dashing silver streak in his hair. Like you, we love him.
If there's two things we like here at Manpilez HQ, Ryan Jones and Tea would be high on the list...
Let’s hear it for the boys… because it wouldn’t be the same without the banter and bromance…
– The #FF Award for Best Tweeter
Much like the Most Swoon Worthy category, we had an idea of who might storm this one, as there is one man who has done more for Twitter than the likes of Stephen Fry and Ashton Kutcher could ever dream of. That man is Cai Griffiths. We here at Manpilez feel Twitter ought to pay Cai commission for every new person he gets to sign up and double it if they’re an Osprey. Generous with his replies, liberal with his hash tags and always drifting somewhere between obscure and hilarious, Cai had won this award before we even thought it up.
While you lot were voting this man your King of the Twits, Tommy Bowe was posting this picture all over Twitter (Thanks Tom!)
Which leads us nicely into our next category, where you have chosen Cai Griffiths and Edd Shervington as your winner of the I Got Your Back, Bro Award for Best Partnership. Once side by side as front row forwards at Ospreys, they are now separated by club but are held together by a bond of kettle bells, chicken wings and unflattering Twitpics. Far less off the wall and far more genteel is the epic bromance between your runners-up Tom Croft and Ben Youngs, who have warmed hearts with their tales of shared pets and bad cooking.
– The Clean Off Guy Award for Most Entertaining Player
Most discerning Rugby leaning folk will tell you that a large part of the deal with the oval balled game is the banter. In fact, some rugby folk are so obsessed with banter they go feral if left alone for too long. To that end, every team has a member whose value to the squad isn’t confined to their skills on the field and it’s those who we’ve come to celebrate with this award.
As you can expect, with so many characters around it was a very close call with just one vote separating our winner, Ian ‘Ianto’ Evans of the Ospreys and David ‘Flats’ Flatman of Bath. Both boys seem to have had more than their fair share of injury of late but both have put it to good use in entertaining the nation, Flats with his columns in the Independent, and Ianto with his legendary Yaks. We Salute you both, boys!
A massive congratulations to all our winners and a huge thanks to you for all your votes and nominations. See you next year!
Words by Lauren and Anna, Pictures from all over the shop