The 2019 NZRL Community Award recipients have tonight been announced with Taniwharau Rugby League Club taking out NZRL Grassroots Club of the Year.
Seventy-five years strong and situated in an area where the playing population is quickly diminishing, this has not hindered the growth of the North Waikato Club who have not only retained players but expanded in numbers and accolades across the park.
Taniwharau’s Premier team remain undefeated after they took out the Waikato Men’s Premiership for the third year running. The club also impressively sports a team at every age group including two female grades, who due to lack of local competition travel each weekend to compete in Auckland. Taniwharau’s U18’s Girls team, coached by Mike Wilson, reigned supreme taking out the U18’s Auckland Women’s Competition which earnt them a nomination for Sport Waikato Team of the Year and Mike a nomination for Sport Waikato Coach of the Year.
Canterbury’s Tevin Arona picked up NZRL Domestic Player of the year due to his outstanding season with the Bulls helping guide them to the NZRL Premiership final. He also Co-Captained the NZ Residents to a victory over the England Community Lions in November and represented the Cook Islands at International Nines and Test level.
Andrew Auimatagi was awarded Domestic Coach of the Year after he coached the Canterbury Bulls to their most successful season in recent time, the Linwood Keas to their third Premiership title in a row, and also the NZ Residents to their victory against England. Andrew has been a driving force within Canterbury and the Southern Zone for a number of years and continues to give back to age-grade representative teams and coaches.
Tokoroa’s Cassius Cowley was awarded U16s Player of the Year after a remarkable 2019 season that saw him captain the Vodafone Warriors 16s team, receive MVP of the 17s North Island Tournament, as well as MVP at the NZ16s test against Toa Samoa in October.
Temple Kalepo was awarded U18s Player of the Year for 2019. The Ellerslie Junior made his debut for the Vodafone Warriors Jersey Flegg and Canterbury Cup team before taking the field for the Junior Kiwis against the Australian Schoolboys. He was also named in the NZ18s squad who took on France and Toa Samoa.
Chris McMillan was awarded Match Official of the Year after he was appointed Touch Judge for all Kiwis home Test matches for the season and refereed the NZRL National Premiership final. Chris also continues to provide coaching at a grassroots level in his spare time.
The Pirtek Volunteer of the Year Awards went to Bryarn Nuku from Omahu Huia Rugby League Club and Anaru Paul from the Hamilton City Tigers after those within their communities nominated them for their selfless dedication to their clubs.
Bryarn kick-started junior rugby league at Omahu Huia Rugby League club which hadn’t seen a junior grade for more than 20 years. Her actions epitomise the Kiwi Way, from fundraising, transporting local kids to their games and paying for their playing fees. Anaru has held the Managers role at the Hamilton City Tigers for over five years, he was a part of two Waikato Premiership winning teams himself and has managed the current Waikato Men’s Premier squad for the last three years. He is described as a true gentleman and an extremely humble man who puts everyone involved in the game before himself.
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters says, “It is these people that keep our game thriving whether you’re a player, coach, referee or volunteer at any level.
“I want to thank all recipients for their dedication to what happens on the field as well as off it. These awards recognise outstanding work in our grassroots and community space and the growth of our game is a testament to them. We congratulate each recipient on their outstanding achievement.”
The NZRL High-Performance Awards will be broadcast on Sky Sport in the new year.
2019 NZRL Community Award Winners
- Grassroots Club of the Year – Taniwharau
- Domestic Coach of the Year – Andrew Auimatagi
- Domestic Player of the Year – Tevin Arona
- U16s Player of the Year – Cassius Cowley
- U18s Player of the Year – Temple Kalepo
- Match Official of the Year – Chris McMillan
- Pirtek Female Volunteer of the Year – Bryarn Nuku
- Pirtek Male Volunteer of the Year – Anaru Paul