Supreme champion Rebecca Mahoney in refereeing mode. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES
By Gary Caffell
Her rugby refereeing exploits led to Rebecca Mahoney being a popular winner of the supreme champion trophy at last night’s 2017 Wairarapa Times-Age sports awards held at Copthorne Solway Park.
The former two-times winner of the Women’s Rugby World Cup only made the transition from playing to refereeing in 2015 and her rise up the ranks has been spectacular.
Already Mahoney has controlled two grand finals of the national women’s inter-provincial championship, became the first female referee to control a domestic first-class men’s fixture in New Zealand, refereed her first 15-a-side international, a match between Japan and Hong Kong in Hong Kong, and officiated on the women’s world sevens tour.
She was also a finalist for the Referee of the Year trophy at the New Zealand rugby awards held in Auckland last December.
Mahoney was one of 15 category winners in the reckoning for the supreme champion award, having taken away the Senior Official of the Year trophy earlier in the night.
Seth Rance, who made his Blacks Cap debut in the recent tri-series in Ireland, won the Senior Sports Personality of the Year after being the joint highest wicket-taker in the McDonald’s Super Smash for 2016-17, a consistently strong performer in the Ford Trophy and a member of the 2016 New Zealand emerging players squad.
The versatile Kate Sims, a star in swimming and cricket, was named Youth Sports Personality of the Year, the junior individual award went to Louis Oliver, who has achieved excellent results in swimming and athletics, and the disabled award went to athlete Josh Taylor, winner of two gold medals at the national secondary schools championships.
For the sport of hockey the 2017 awards provided many memorable moments, the Dalefield men’s team being named Senior Sports Team of the Year after winning the Wellington premier division title for a history-making second time, their coach Willie Schaefer taking away the Coach of the Year trophy and their manager Mike Van Woerkom the Volunteer of the Year trophy.
Ross Linton, manager of the New Zealand barefoot water skiing team, won the Administrator of the Year award and Junior Official of the Year is Georgia Wilson, who umpires senior grade hockey and has also officiated at national age group level.
The Sports Club of the Year trophy is always keenly contested and this year was no exception with the spoils going to the Wairarapa Paddlers whose members have made such a big impact on the national canoe polo stage.
Their winning of the Central Districts Twenty20 title was a major feather in the cap of the Wairarapa girls under-18 cricket side which won the Youth Team of the Year while the Junior Team of the Year is the Masterton Swimming Club’s team which competed with considerable success in the under-12 section at the national Junior Festival event.
Taking out the College of the Year trophy was Solway College which launched its own equestrian academy while the Primary School of the Year award went to Hadlow whose pupils have tasted success in so many sporting arenas over the past 12 months
The inaugural People’s Choice award went to the finalist receiving the most public votes outside the category winners and a very popular winner there was Janice Leighton, a well-known indoor bowls identity who spends considerable time teaching disabled people the fundamentals of that sport.
The 2017 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises the years of valuable service given to their particular sport by an individual, is Bob Wilton, who is in his 20th successive year as president of the Masterton Motorplex Drag Racing Club and was instrumental in them constructing an internationally-acclaimed drag strip on land near the Hood aerodrome.
Senior Sports Personality: Seth Rance.
Youth Sports Personality: Kate Sims
Junior Sports Personality: Louis Oliver
Disabled Sports Personality: Josh Taylor
Administrator of the Year: Ross Linton.
Coach of the Year: Willie Schaefer.
Senior Official of the Year: Rebecca Mahoney.
Junior Official of the Year: Georgia Wilson.
Volunteer of the Year: Mike Van Woerkom.
Senior Sports Team of the Year: Dalefield men’s hockey.
Youth Sports Team of the Year: Wairarapa under-18 girls cricket.
Junior Sports Team of the Year: Masterton Swimming Club Junior Festival team.
Sports Club of the Year: Wairarapa Paddlers.
College of the Year: Solway College.
Primary School of the Year: Hadlow.
People’s Choice: Janice Leighton.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Bob Wilton.
Supreme Champion Award: Rebecca Mahoney.