New Zealand law firm Bell Gully has been enlisted as independent scrutineer in the vote counting for the world's best rugby players in 2006.
The International Rugby Players Association has just held its annual awards in which the national squads from the eight major rugby playing countries cast votes to select the International Player of the Year, the Team of the Year and the Newcomer of the Year. The awards all went to New Zealanders but not until after an independent and carefully scrutinised voting process overseen by the Wellington-based office of Bell Gully.
Bell Gully acts for the New Zealand Rugby Players Association and the New Zealand association's executive manager Rob Nichol is chairman of the International Rugby Players Association. Mr Nichol enlisted Bell Gully as trusted counsel to act as scrutineers and oversee the vote counting.
Partner Andrew Scott-Howman and practice assistant Lisa Schuring undertook the work, with Lisa acting as chief electoral officer to check and tally the 240 votes cast by players from France, Ireland, Wales, England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
The rules stipulate they may not vote for players from their own country. After the count the winners were clear: Player of the Year - Richie McCaw, Team of the Year - the All Blacks and Newcomer of the Year - Jason Eaton.
"It's not everyday lawyers get to be auditors as well – and on a more unusual but important counting assignment!," says Andrew Scott-Howman.
"But we were delighted to be able to help out – and can attest to a very fair and square win for New Zealand."