DHL Stormers stars Jean de Villiers and Eben Etzebeth have been shortlisted in the inaugural Ultimate Rugby IRPA Awards, after a string of impressive performances for both franchise and country during 2013.
Etzebeth will face off against New Zealand’s Sam Whitelock and Samoa’s Joe Tekori at lock, whilst De Villiers – the DHL Stormers and Springbok skipper – will be up against Wales & Lions star Jamie Roberts and Kiwi Ma’a Nonu at centre.
Eben and Jean – as one of the top three players in their positions – have also been included in the 45-strong shortlist for the global title of Fans’ Player of the Year. And, as part of the inaugural Ultimate Rugby IRPA Awards, the Fans’ Player of the Year and World XV of the Year will be decided by votes cast on Ultimate Rugby’s mobile app, and announced on Tuesday, November 26.
For their World XV of the Year award, fans will be asked to pick one of the three nominated finalists in each of the 15 playing positions. For the Player of Year, fans must choose just one name from the shortlist.
The shortlist itself was created by a panel of professional and ex-professional rugby players, but the eventual Winners of the Player and Team of the Year Awards will be determined by a public vote – so this is YOUR chance to vote for Eben and Jean!
If you would like to vote for Eben and/or Jean, all you need to do is go to www.ultimaterugby.com, download the mobile app and follow the voting instructions contained within.
The 45-man shortlist, prepared by a panel of IRPA recently-retired international players, features players from 11 nations. New Zealand has the most entries with 15 players, followed by Wales (eight), South Africa (six), France (four), Argentina and Samoa (three), Australia and Ireland (two) and England, Italy and Fiji (one).
The shortlist for the Fans’ Player and World XV of the Year awards (in order of playing position) is:
15. Willie le Roux (South Africa), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Israel Dagg (New Zealand)
14. Israel Folau (Australia), Ben Smith (New Zealand), Napolioni Nalaga (Fiji)
13. Wesley Fofana (France), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Conrad Smith (New Zealand)
12. Jamie Roberts (Wales), Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand), Jean de Villiers (South Africa)
11. George North (Wales), Julian Savea (New Zealand), Sitiveni Sivivatu (New Zealand)
10. Dan Carter (New Zealand), Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Aaron Cruden (New Zealand)
9. Kahn Fotuali’i (Samoa), Aaron Smith (New Zealand), Will Genia (Australia)
8. Kieran Read (New Zealand), Sergio Parisse (Italy), Toby Faletau (Wales)
7. Sean O’Brien (Ireland), Richie McCaw (New Zealand), Francois Louw (South Africa)
6. Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (Argentina), Louis Picomoles (France), Liam Messam (New Zealand).
5. James Horwill (Australia), Brodie Retallick (New Zealand), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
4. Sam Whitelock (New Zealand), Eben Etzebeth (South Africa), Joe Tekori (Samoa)
3. Juan Figallo (Argentina), Adam Jones (Wales), Census Johnston (Samoa)
2. Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa), Benjamin Kayser (France) Richard Hibbard (Wales)
1. Vincent Debaty (France), Alex Corbiseiro (England), Marcos Ayerza (Argentina)