I’ve caught exactly 0 minutes of this years ITM Cup. Blame it on oversaturation/the world cup/a lack of Sky or whatever, but the point is, I’m totally incapable of making an informed pick in either the premiership or championship division. But if an octopus can call the soccer world cup with only it’s cephalopodan appetite to guide it, then surely I can do better with the whole mascot pool to choose from. Taking into consideration mascot appearance, history, antics and more, here are your 2015 ITM Cup contenders.
Canterbury – Larry the Lamb
If we really want to get into ovine semantics, Larry looks like more of a sheep than a lamb. He’s also been lifted straight out of Stories from Toytown, a kids show from the 70’s. But even if we concede that Larry is in fact a lamb and not a sheep, it begs the question – why? I mean, ‘a lamb to the slaughter’, ‘meek as a lamb’ and so on, none of which describe Premiership leaders Canterbury.
Auckland – Hira Bhana Potato Man
The only anthropomorphic root vegetable in the ITM Cup, the Hira Bhana Potato Man may not be the official Auckland mascot, but he is the only one worth mentioning. The Hira Bhana Potato Man is also superior to that other potato, Mr Potato Head, in that he actually resembles a potato and wears neither a hat nor moustache.
Taranaki – Ferdinand the Bull
Another mascot stolen straight out of 20th century children’s fiction, Ferdinand the Bull has fallen a long way from the days when he was an embodiment of pacifism at the outbreak of the Spanish civil war. But what Ferdinand lacks in the political arena, he more than makes up for in superb facial contouring and a theme song second only to that of New Zealand’s other bovine mascot, Mooloo. He’s also appeared from time to time as a motorised, steam-blowing robot bull.
Tasman – CarCo the Mako
Pros – Mako shark. Cons – worst name in the competition. Summary – wasted opportunity.
Winner – Ferdinand the Bull
A rich history, a theme song and a well designed costume, Ferdinand the Bull has got it all. Taranaki are bringing the cup back to the mountain.
Hawke’s Bay – Kahu the Magpie
Kahu has seen two moments of glory in the ITM Cup. Once the biggest mascot in world sports, Kahu is also the only mascot to have kneed Hori BOP full force in the testicles during a fight in 2011. However Kahu is the Maori term for the harrier hawk, which is definitely not a magpie, and the Hawke’s bay is named after a British Admiral, not a bird, so points lost for muddying the waters.
Wellington – Leo the Lion
Leo had a facelift this month and now looks more like a lion than the overweight bear he resembled in previous seasons. Designed by Weta Workshop’s costume designer Bryce Curtis, Leo is a blend of Marty from Madagascar and CGI Aslan from the more recent Chronicles of Narnia.
Otago – The Razorback
The Razorback is significant in that it actually looks like a boar. Totally lacking in the googly eyes and lackadaisical grin common to the more-child friendly mascots in the tournament, The Razorback is a grunty, piggy bastard with tiny pig eyes and big pig tusks. He’s Otago personified.
Bay of Plenty – Steamy/Hori BOP
Like a fat Don King in jandals, Hori BOP is the unofficial mascot for the Bay of Plenty Steamers. He’s the only mascot to have run for mayor, and also the only mascot to have been kneed in the dick by Kahu the magpie. He’s a New Zealand bloke through and through, and apparently lives in Tauranga, home to the shockingly impractical Bay Park. The official mascot Steamy is so boring even the Bay of Plenty Steamers website has nothing to do with him.
Winner – The Razorback
It’s a close call between Leo the Lion’s fresh summer look and The Razorback’s classic bush-chic, but the boar is bringing home the bacon. He’s rugged, he’s tough and he’s a little bit rough around the edges, but so is provincial rugby. Otago win the Championship division.