2015 Ken Catchpole Medal: From one Wick to another

Photo: Ric McLallen

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David Horwitz wasn’t even born the last time a Randwick player won the Ken Catchpole Medal.

The annual award for the Shute Shield’s shining light, voted for by the matchday referee’s, was presented to the Galloping Greens’ flyhalf/centre at last Monday evening’s celebration of Sydney club rugby, held at The Rugby Club. A clearly elated Horwitz finished with 22 votes from his 15 games, edging out last year’s winner Hamish Angus from Warringah and Northern Suburbs flanker Will Miller, by only one vote.

“It’s amazing. There’s such a good group of guys on that list that have dominated the Shute Shield for so long and to finish on top is a very special feeling,” he said. “No matter what I go on to do, and hopefully I have a long career, it’s so rewarding to win this award.” But when it was pointed out to him that the last recipient of the famous trophy to don the myrtle green was the one and only Phil Kearns, back in 1993, the talented 20-year-old couldn’t suppress a chuckle.

“That was the year before I was born so maybe that bodes well!” he smiled. “Kearnsy is a very passionate Randwick supporter and you can always hear him barking over your shoulder down at Coogee. He’s a Newington boy and I’m a Scots boy so he always gets into me about that but he’s a great club figure who was famously picked out of 2nd Grade to play for the Wallabies. If I can follow in his path in any way at all, I’d love to do that.”

From Scots College to the Wicks to representing the Aussie Under 20’s and the fringes of the NSW Waratahs, it has been a rapid rise for the young playmaker. Made captain this year, the extra responsibility has taken his game to another level as Randwick look to return to their former glories with the likes of Horwitz, Andrew Kellaway and Andrew Deegan leading the way.

“Dave is a highly talented rugby player and a key contributor to Randwick’s success and improvements seen throughout 2015,” says his head coach at Coogee Oval, Shannon Fraser. “With a very young and inexperienced group it was crucial that we had strong leadership, which Dave provided through both his capacity and game management. He is a well balanced attacker with a strong kicking, passing and running game and considering he is still only 20, he has a huge future in the game.”

The next challenge for Horwitz is to try and cement himself as a permanent fixture at the Waratahs, a tough ask given the calibre of players in his position. The best way to do that, is to keep excelling at every level he is confronted with. “To get a little bit of exposure to the Waratahs and Super Rugby over the last couple of years and to train with guys like Kurtley Beale and Bernard Foley, has been incredible,” he admits. “Getting a starting spot is going to be really tough and for me to progress I need to perform, and the Shute Shield is such a good standard that if I can perform here, or in the NRC with the NSW Country Eagles, I can hopefully go on to bigger and brighter things.”

Other winners on the night were West Harbour’s Kelly Meafua, who capped a stellar first year of top grade by lifting the Rookie of the Year Award. The gun flanker finished with an impressive tally of 139 ball carries and 151 tackles across the season. And it was smiles all round at Northern Suburbs too as fledgling head coach Simon Cron was rewarded for a season of progress, voted Coach of the Year by his peers. “If we had made it in to the finals I’d feel better about it but this is pretty special,” said the affable Kiwi.

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Ken Catchpole Medal 2015

Original version published in the 2015 Rugby News Grand Final match program on August 15th, 2015

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