Outstanding members of community game recognised with 2021 Rugby Australia Awards

Launceston Rugby Club. Photo:Rugby Australia
Launceston Rugby Club. Photo:Rugby Australia

Four outstanding members of the Australian Rugby community have been recognised today as part of the 2021 Rugby Australia Awards.

Harry Maniatis (Volunteer of the Year), Ebony Altmira (Nick Farr-Jones Spirit of Rugby Award), Peter Fenton OAM (Joe French Award for Outstanding Contributions to Rugby) and Luke Crameri (Geoff ‘Bunter’ Shaw Community Coach of the Year) have all received awards for their exceptional contributions to the game within their respective states and nationally.

Their recognition is part of a week-long celebration of the Rugby Australia Awards which will culminate in the 2021 John Eales Medal being announce on Sunday morning (AEDT).

Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos said: “The community game is crucial to what we do at Rugby Australia and without dedicated volunteers like the people we are recognising today, the game wouldn’t exist. These people are the heart and soul of the Australian Rugby community.

“I would like to congratulate and thank each award winner for the service they have given to Rugby in Australia.

“Each of these recipients embody the five values we live at Rugby Australia and they all should be proud of what they have achieved and contributed to the sport.”

After 30 years of service to Canterbury Rugby Club, Harry Maniatis has been recognised with the Volunteer of the Year award for 2021.

Having held almost every position at the club and played more than 300 games, Maniatis exemplifies what it means to be dedicated to his club and is a great ambassador of the game.

“I was shocked to say the least I didn’t think it was real at first but at when I figured out it was the real deal, I was truly honoured and humbled to say the least,” Maniatis explained.

“The club (Canterbury) is my second family and there are many out in the club community that have volunteered even more time than me and it is those people who are willing to stay and share their knowledge that makes the club last for years.”

Tasmanian Rugby (TasRugby) President Ebony Altimira has been awarded the Nick Farr-Jones Spirit of Rugby Award as a volunteer who has made a significant contribution to the development, promotion, or advancement of Rugby in Australia.

Altimira has given countless hours to the game running the volunteer-led Member Union in Tasmania helping to re-establish the sport in the state.

With a strong passion for junior Rugby, Altimira set about reinvigorating the state’s junior committee, leading to the development of an U10s and U12s fifteen-a-side for the first time.

While managing the presidential, CEO and general manager roles in the state, Altimira has also been able to organise and execute various tours for TasRugby state representative sides including a state junior tournament for girls and boys (U14-U18) against South Australia.

“We’ve achieved so much this year, putting both a senior and junior competition in such a disruptive year,” Altimira said.

“We couldn’t have done it without the support of the TasRugby board, our volunteers, Rugby Australia and especially our development officer here Nic Robertson.”

Parramatta Rugby player Peter Fenton OAM has received the Joe French Award for Outstanding Contributions to Rugby.

Fenton has served many years with Parramatta Rugby Club, transitioning from a player to a coach in 1977, which led to the side’s inaugural premiership that same year.

Fenton continued his coaching prowess into the Shute Shield competition, working with Eastwood and Penrith and Sydney District, subsequently earning a life membership with NSW Rugby Union.

Fenton also contributed to the game in unique ways as a Rugby raconteur and poet, having written the NSW Waratahs’ current team song.

“I think it’s lovely to win this award, it’s not something I ever thought of however I did know Joe French which means a lot he was a wonderful bloke,” Fenton said.

“I’ve been around rugby a long time and all my lifelong friends have been from the game, so it is a fantastic fraternity to be a part of.”

The Geoff ‘Bunter’ Shaw Community Coach of the Year Award has been won by 28-year-old Luke Crameri for his dedication to coaching within Victoria.

Crameri has risen through the coaching ranks within Victoria through his time at local club Power House, mentoring junior coaches and players as well as playing an assistant role within Power Houses’ Senior Women’s side.

Crameri has also played a large role in development at Rugby Victoria, completing various player dispensations across the entire state at local club and schools.

He is also now working with the Melbourne Rebels Super W side as a skills coach, where he will look to continue his development.

“To be honest it’s very humbling to win this award, I like to see myself as quite a jovial coach I never want to see players with frowns on their faces when they train”, Crameri said.

“It’s was a pretty disruptive year last year being in Victoria however I got the opportunity to learn from some pretty experienced coaches and that has really helped with my development.”