The 1st annual Barbarians Awards Banquet kicked off on a cold and blustery night in downtown Milwaukee at Fire On Water. Unlike years past with smoking jackets, harrumphs and ties around the head dancing, this year was much more free wheeling. There was plenty of beverages to keep the cold at bay, and a spread of appetizers guaranteed to keep even the hungriest forwards satisfied (although this usually means the backs and everyone's dates suffer, but not so this year).
There were rookie skits, pranks and enough antics to stock an evening at the Improv. Less a rugby team and more a group of friends living the good life.
The awards issued at the banquet are steeped in tradition and reflect those who worked hard to become the top of the heap, as recognized by their peers. Everyone knows that rugby is a team sport, and even those at the top realize that they didn't get there without the blood, sweat and dedication of the others wearing Barbarian Blue, be it the game pitch or on the practice field. Alas, once again, I was passed over for Match Secretary of the Year. I vow not to give up in that pursuit.
For the uninitiated or perpetually inebriated, the awards are broken down between general position, Forwards (numbers 1-8) and Back (numbers 9-15) and the 1st or A side and the 2nd or B side. In addition we offer up a rookie of the year, who is not necessarily (as in in this case of Zach Albert, an electrifying player since he started playing in high school) a rookie to rugby, but to the Barbarians organization. The final award, rugger of the year, is slated for the person, not necessarily a player, who impacts the organization in a positive way and with who the team cannot do without. This was given to Captain Ben Smith. Smitty has grown into one hell of a leader on and off the field, and the award was well deserved.
Without further ado, the awards as presented on Saturday, February 16th, 2013 were:
- A-Side Forward of the Year: Charlie Wagner
- A-Side Back of the Year: Mark Fine
- B-Side Forward of the Year: Mark Muench
- B-Side Back of the Year: Ben Nirschl
- A-Side Most Improved Forward:Charlie Wagner
- B-Side Most Improved Forward: Jared Abt
- A-Side Most improved Back: Zack Albert
- B-Side Most improved Back: John LeCloux
- Barbarian Rookie of the year: Zack Albert
- Rugger of the Year: Ben Smith