The History of the Rhyce Shaw Medal

Help me. For the LOVE OF GOD!
This approximate expression of terror was etched on Shaw's face through the 2003 Grand Final

About the medal

The Rhyce Shaw Medal is a wonderful, prestigious medal craved by none. While the Norm Smith Medal – won this year by Geelong midfielder Jimmy Bartel – gets the glory, its poor cousin Rhyce is left to fend for itself. Maybe it’s because it’s so underground. Maybe it’s because the award has no physical form or official credibility. Maybe it’s because it’s awarded to the worst player on ground in an AFL Grand Final, not the best. Who knows? The real reason is lost in time, like the meaning behind ‘San Diego’. But slowly the movement is growing to get this award some credibility and year after year, the question starts cropping up early: who’s the early favourite? Who will take out this year’s RSM?

The award itself is named after former Collingwood (and current Sydney) player Rhyce Shaw. Rhyce Shaw, who is both a son and a nephew of former Collingwood captains, is a terrific footy player. But in the 2003 Grand Final, he…stunk. He stunk so badly that the Rhyce Shaw Medal was immediately created, named and posthumously awarded in 2002 to Collingwood’s Leon Davis. This means that Rhyce Shaw was SO bad, he wasn’t even the first to be awarded the medal named after him.

No one has ever won it twice. The closest were Leon Davis in 2010 (draw. 3rd) and Steven Milne in 2010 (replay, 2nd).
No one has ever completed the rare Brownlow/Shaw double.
Collingwood has had the most RS Medallists with a staggering FIVE, including 2011’s champion.

The honour roll

2002: Leon Davis (Collingwood)
Awarded posthumously, Neon Leon Davis, a 2-time All-Australian, has NOT fared so well in Grand Finals. In 2002 against the reigning champion Lions, he had 3 tackles. Good stuff. He also had a truly astonishing ZERO possessions. Wow. I’m not even mad, that’s amazing.

2003: Rhyce Shaw (Collingwood)
The man himself. 8 touches, 3 marks, no goals, behinds, tackles. What he did do though, was fumble, stumble and stagger through the whole game, slipping over at a crucial moment and allowing Brisbane to kick a crucial goal and further gather momentum. In related news, Collingwood lost by 50 points.

2004: Alastair Lynch (Brisbane)
The first few years of the Rhyce Shaw were very easy to pick – and none easier than Lynch. Lynch self-destructed in a way that few players have, before or since. Playing in his fourth consecutive Grand Final, Lynch had zero touches, tackles etc, but did give away one free kick which led to Port’s first goal. Shortly after, Lynch was swinging punches at Port’s Darryl Wakelin, who was owning Lynch in a way few had. Port won by 40 points, Lynch was reported for striking and had to ‘serve’ a ten match sentence, which he avoided by retiring. He was unable to avoid the $15,000 fine, the ignominy of the loss, the quad injury he picked up or the Rhyce Shaw Medal.

How DARE you kick goals on us! We're the Brisbane Lions, dammit!
The exact moment that Alastair Lynch retired

2005: Michael Gardiner (West Coast)
In the epic Grand Final battles of the Swans and Eagles, it seems sad that someone had to get the RSM. Not so much that it was Gardiner. Gardiner, known as much for his underworld connections as for his football, was absolutely slaughtered in the ruck contests (only 3 tap outs), managed only 6 touches and essentially signed the papers to leave West Coast. Dean Cox slotted into his spot very nicely.

2006: Barry Hall (Sydney)
This was a tough one. Barry Hall didn’t stink it up like Lynch, Shaw and Davis, but he certainly left a mark. 12 touches, no goals, 3 free kicks given away and several clangers was enough to secure him the Rhyce Shaw for ’06.


By this point, the medal was big enough that others started chiming in with their picks.

2007: Daniel Motlop (Port Adelaide)
Motlop 14, Pettigrew 9
Daniel Motlop had recently arrived in Port from North Melbourne with big expectations and going into the 2007 GF was purported to be the X-Factor by local newspaper the Advertiser. Two things were forgotten. One, that Port overachieved just by making the GF and two, that Motlop is some flash, zero substance and no flash. Motlop had four possessions and the Power lost by a record 119 points. On the plus side, he led the match in hangdog expressions and slumped shoulders. Motlop (13 votes) edged out Michael Pettigrew (9 votes) for the medal with daylight to third.

2008: Mathew Stokes (Geelong)
Stokes 23, Mooney 18
Geelong was expected to comfortably win the 2008 GF. They did not. And the Rhyce Shaw voters placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of Cam Mooney and Matthew Stokes. Mooney’s was especially fascinating as he started out in a flurry, kicking two early goals and looking a good early bet for the Norm Smith. But at half-time he missed a shot from 5m out, destroying his confidence. He missed another couple later on and the RS voters jumped on his back.
Stokes, however, took the win with only 7 touches…all of which were basically clangers. He missed one easy shot on goal and committed a bunch of poor blunders. This continued a stretch of Rhyce Shaw voting where the voters took particular exception to cocky small forwards underperforming.

"If just one of us could catch this yellow thing, perhaps we'd be Shaw-free...right?"
Riewoldt and Milne look on as the Rhyce Shaw voters circle their carcasses.

2009: Stephen Milne (St Kilda)
S. Milne 34, S. Johnson 25, J. Koschitzke 8.
11 disposals. No goals. Two behinds. Three free kicks against. Never have the voters been happier to anoint someone with the RS Medal. The universally despised Milne screwed up numerous shots on goal, particularly one glorious one that he grubbed along the ground and absolutely should have kicked cleanly.

2010 draw: Luke Ball & Travis Cloke (Collingwood) (tie)
L. Ball 21, T. Cloke 21, L. Davis 19
2010: Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda)
N. Riewoldt 29, S. Milne 28, T. Cloke 7

What to do with two Grand Finals? Have two Rhyce Shaws of course! The Norm Smith medals were won by Lenny Hayes and Scott Pendlebury respectively. The Rhyce Shaws, in a unique twist, matched the matches.

Collingwood stars Travis ‘Choke’ Cloke and Luke Ball managed to tie the voting for the tied game, narrowly ahead of Leon Davis. Cloke missed several easy shots on goal which incited the voters. Somewhat ironically, Cloke was actually far worse in the replay but it was the timing and ease of the shots he missed that got him votes. Ball managed only 13 touches for the game, poor for an on-baller and easily inciting the wrath of voters already irritated by his move to Collingwood from St Kilda. Which wasn’t necessarily his fault. Hmm.

St Kilda superstar Nick Riewoldt was basically an open-and-shut, Daniel Motlop-esque loss in the replay, though he only narrowly edged out Stephen Milne. In one of the AFL’s most stunning moments, Riewoldt sauntered in for an uncontested 1st quarter goal, only for a lunging Heath Shaw to deny him. Shoulders slumped, Riewoldt would miss again that quarter and the Saints were never in it again. Tall poppy syndrome cropping up again – the superstar must stand up or the RS voters punish you.

So 2011? Who will be the champion?
Check in for part two here

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10 thoughts on “The History of the Rhyce Shaw Medal

  1. Mikey – nice write-up!
    2 things please:
    1. What is the criteria for winning the RS medal? Is it worst performing, or worst performing against expectations?
    2. It looks like the vote count for 2010 replay is a tie, with Riewoldt and Milne both on 28 votes. Is this a typo, or was a decision made to split the tie because of the Heath Shaw smother making Riewoldt’s performance soooo much more memorable?
    Love your work 🙂

  2. I am no longer sure where you’re getting your information, however good topic. I needs to spend a while studying more or understanding more. Thanks for great information I was in search of this info for my mission.

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