Race outcome disappoints Johnson

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Maheno Rugby Club president James Symes says he is fuming over the decision to award University A rugby player Gavin Stark the title of fastest club player in the Highlanders catchment area for 2014.

Symes said the winner should be either Maheno’s Adam Johnson or Taieri’s William Tagicakibau.

The race was held at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday night.

“Adam was first to place the ball down, which was stipulated in the rules, but William, the Taieri player, was ambushed by all the unstripped Highlanders players because they didn’t want Taieri winning it.”

While Johnson was behind Stark in getting to the line, photos show him placing the ball down before the winger from Varsity.

“He definitely won the race, but I’m more disappointed that the Otago Rugby Union won’t acknowledge they made a mistake or even give Adam a prize; with over $10,000 worth of prizes, surely they could have found something to give him other than match tickets which don’t suit due to rugby commitments.”

Maheno winger Adam Johnson, who entered the race on behalf of the North Otago club, said he was frustrated with final result.

“They gave him the win, which I wasn’t happy about, because they saw him go through the posts first,” he said.

“They were going to disqualify me because I didn’t run through the gauntlet, when I did, it’s just all the Highlanders boys on the tackle bags went for the ones they knew,” Johnson said.

Pre- race odds had Johnson at 100/1 to win.

“They had me ranked at 100 to one to win the thing, which p****d me off. I wanted to show them I actually was a chance.”

Otago Daily Times rugby columnist Paul Dywer said he gave the win to Stark because from where he was viewing the race, Stark went through the goalposts first.

“Clearly from where I was standing at the time the two boys went through the post, Stark was ahead by about half a metre, so on this he was judged the victor.”

Dywer was disappointed with the numbers and hoped more clubs from North Otago, South Otago, and Central Otago would compete in future years.

By BRAYDEN LINDSAY

PHOTO: FACEBOOK

QUICK START: Maheno’s Adam Johnson (green and black) gets out of the block early in the Otago Daily Times fastest club player halftime dash at Forsyth Barr stadium last Saturday.