The Northern Territory Rugby Union is celebrating the 40th Anniversary of competition Rugby in Darwin this season.
The Union has recognised Administrators, Players, Coaches and Families whose contribution has been sufficiently meritorious to have an award in their honour.
NTRU President Dan Bree said “the 40th Anniversary celebration year is a significant milestone for our code and the NTRU Board thought it would be a great time to recognise the outstanding contributions of some of the people who have so positively influenced the success of Rugby Union in the Northern Territory both on and off the field.”
The First Grade Premiership Shield has been named the Dennis Bree Shield in recognition of Dennis’ achievement both on and off the field.
Dennis Bree played for Palmerston in their first game of the first season in September 1976 and played against Casuarina in Round One of this current season last month.
As an administrator Dennis Bree served as NTRU President from 1992-2001 and then served on the Board of the Australian Rugby Union from 2001 to 2005.
For the last three years he has been heavily involved in the strategic planning of the Hottest 7s in the World.
Dennis Bree was also was involved in the set-up of competitions in both Katherine and Alice Springs.
The Reserve Grade Competition and its Best & Fairest Player also recognise two long serving NTRU Board Members.
The Premiership Shield will be known as the Richard ‘Dick” Norris Shield while the Best & Fairest Award will acknowledge the contribution of Dan Panapa who apart from two decades on the NTRU Board played the game locally with Casuarina for three decades.
Dick Norris’ three years as President after numerous terms as a Vice President oversaw the transition of the Darwin Club Competition from Wet to Dry season.
His role with the Darwin Stubbies Golden Oldies Club ensured the success of the Territory 7s and Hottest 7s Tournaments by way of co-ordinating volunteers and that same group of people taking care of and billeting junior teams from interstate and overseas who were touring through Darwin.
The competition’s Rising Star Award Winner will now be known as the Tawera Kerr-Barlow Medallist.
Tawera, affectionately known in Darwin as Nerada played his first Rugby in Darwin with Palmerston as a 4 year old before moving to Hamilton in New Zealand for High School after representing Darwin Under 12s against Katherine.
After selection in various National Age representative teams Tawera was selected to play for the All Blacks in 2012 thus becoming the first Northern Territory Junior to play Test Match Rugby.
Players who are 18 or younger are automatic nominees for the Rising Star Award when they start in a First Grade Match for the first time with the winner selected based on their performance and development once nominated.
The Mosquitoes MVP will now be known as the Craig Leach Mosquito Player of the Year.
Craig Leach is one many outstanding players who have represented the Northern Territory and it is fitting as home grown, most capped and captain during our finest moments the award carries his name.
David Cooper is considered to be one of the founding fathers of the game in Darwin and is credited as having organised the meeting to determine if a Rugby Competition was to be viable.
A player with Palmerston and Casuarina, Cooper coached the first Northern Territory Representative Team and therefore appropriate to name the David Cooper Senior Coach of the Year Award in recognition of his contribution.
Colin Snowden Junior Coach of the Year recognises the contribution of East Arnhem based Colin Snowden.
Snowden a Level III Premiership winning Coach has dedicated an enormous amount his time developing junior talent.
Those players under his tutelage in East Arnhem consistently make the seamless transition to representative players and has coached the Northern Territory Under 16 Team on 10 occasions.
Swampdogs stalwart Des Bredhauer demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the game as an administrator at both club and association level, as a referee in both junior and senior grades and as a coach and manager of junior club and junior representative teams.
The The Under 17 Competition will be known as the Bredhauer Shield.
The Best & Fairest in the Under 17s will recognise the accomplishment of David Ross in 1984.
The Japan Schoolboys Team was on a nine match tour of Australian culminating in a Schoolboy Test Match in Brisbane.
Game seven of the Tour was against the Northern Territory Schools XV in Darwin and David’s performance earned him selection in the Australian Team and he became the first player from the Northern Territory to be selected in an Australian Team at any level of Rugby Union.
In what may be seen as unconventional, the NTRU have acknowledged the contribution of two families in lieu of individuals by naming the Under 15 Competition the Niki & Mayo Shield
Both families are firmly ensconced at Darwin Dragons and have contributed multiple players to both Junior and Senior Club and Representative Teams and without exception have played the game in the manner in which it should be played.
Bernard Niki and Peter Mayo are both Eric Johnston Medallists and playing members from both families have regularly coached their siblings and off-spring in junior competitions.
The Under 15 Best & Fairest also hails from the Darwin Dragons with the Award honouring Joseph Egan.
Joseph Egan played six Tests for the Australian Schoolboys in 2004-05 from Casuarina Senior College and there are only 20 players to have played more tests for the Australian Schoolboys since 1969.
The Under 13 Best & Fairest Award recognises another Territorian who has represented Australia at Schoolboy level.
David Billsborrow was the Northern Territory Under 16 Captain in 2000 and after an eye-catching tournament was recruited by the prestigious St Joseph’s College in Sydney.
After representing NSW David played four Tests for the Australian Schoolboys in 2001-02.
Women’s Rugby holds a significant place in the code’s history in the Northern Territory with twelve players earning National selection with the Wallaroos.
The Women’s Player of the Year in the Northern Territory will receive the Naomi Roberts Medal.
Naomi Roberts earned eleven caps for Australia from 1996-2001 and was arguably the first superstar of Women’s Rugby in Australia.
The Bo de la Cruz Award for Emerging Talent has been introduced this year.
Bo represented Australia on nine occasions at XV’s and is a 7s World Cup winner and the only Wallaroo to have been born and raised in the Northern Territory.
There has been a resurgence in interest and player numbers, particularly young, locally raised girls who play multiple sports and the naming of the award after de la Cruz was an obvious one.
The Volunteer of the Year Award acknowledges the contribution 20 year veteran of the Board and current Vice President Brian Anderson who has the sometime difficult portfolio of competition logistics and communication.
Another Award introduced this year is the Vince Kelly Regional Achievement Award.
Prior to his Presidency of the NTRU from 2004-11 as a Vice President Vince was based in Katherine and Alice Springs and both centres thrived during his time there.
He played and coached in each of the towns representative teams and also co-ordinated successful NT Country Representative Teams
The recipient of the Vince Kelly Regional Achievement Award may be an individual or a team who is based in Katherine, Central Australia or East Arnhem.