No Rugby Stars Nominated for End-of-Season Awards
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Nowhere to be seen.
The shortlist for the 2021 RTE Sports Person of the Year has been announced and in what is unusual, there are no rugby union players on the list of eight this year.
That may be because Ireland were unable to win the Six Nations Championship back in the spring, something which is obviously a huge part of the rugby union calendar. They finished third in what was a respectable campaign. The highlight of that championship was their 32-18 victory over England in the final round of fixtures.
The RTE Sports Person of the Year is modelled on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in the UK. Emma Raducanu is the favourite in the winner odds on the Sports Personality of the Year 2021. There is no rugby union player nominated for that award either, so it is a disappointing campaign for the sport.
The Irish player who there could have been a strong case for being on the RTE Sports Person of the Year shortlist is Jonathan Sexton. He played his 100th game for Ireland in 2021 and is now up to seventh in the all-time appearance list.
Sexton is also closing in on Ronan O’Gara’s record for the most points for Ireland. If he overtakes O’Gara in 2022, he is certain to be on the shortlist next year. The fly-half won the award in 2018 so he would be joining an elusive club of multiple winners if successful next December.
Boxing Had a Lot of Success in This Award
A boxer has won the RTE Sports Person of the Year Award on five occasions, that’s one more than rugby union. Kellie Karrington will be hoping she becomes the latest boxer to add her name the roll of honour this year. The flag bearer for Ireland at the Olympics in Tokyo went into the Games as one of the country’s best chances of a gold medal, and she did not disappoint.
Karrington defeated Brazil’s Beatriz Ferreira 5-0 in the lightweight final, with all five judges scoring in her favour. She became only the second female boxer from Ireland to win Olympic gold and only the third Irish person to win any gold at the Games.
Ireland have produced some great male and female boxers over the last four decades. Barry McGuigan was the first ever winner of the RTE Sports Person of the Year Award in 1985. Katie Taylor is the latest to really shine. These figures are up there with the biggest names in rugby union in the country.
Golf Leads the Way in RTE Sports Person of the Year
No sport has had more success at the RTE Sports Person of the Year than golf. Nine times in the history of the event has a golfer collected the trophy, with Padraig Harrington being the most successful.
Golfer Leona Maguire has had a brilliant year in her sport and she will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Harrington and Rory McIlroy. Not only has she climbed up 130 places in the world rankings, she was a key player for Europe in their Solheim Cup success in her rookie appearance.
Golf is obviously a very different game to rugby union and when an Irish player does win a Major, it is naturally a huge storyline. They have more opportunities to shine than rugby players do, with four Majors scheduled annually.
Hopefully, rugby bounces back in 2022 and there is at least one representation at the RTE Sports Person of the Year. Good luck to those in contention for the award this year.