DHL Stormers second-rower Pieter-Steph du Toit on Monday became the second Springbok lock in two seasons to be named as SA Rugby’s Player of the Year at a glittering awards ceremony at the Gallagher Conference Centre in Midrand.
The 24-year-old Du Toit follows in the footsteps of Lood de Jager, who walked away with the Award for the 2015 season, on a night where no fewer than eight of the winners are aged 25 or younger. The average age of all the players who won awards, is 22.7 years.
The Springbok and DHL Stormers lock fought off strong challenges for the top award from his middle row partner Eben Etzebeth, and a trio of Boks from the Emirates Lions, Ruan Combrinck, Jaco Kriel and Warren Whiteley.
There were also awards for DHL Stormers wing Seabelo Senatla (Steinhoff Springbok Sevens Player of the Year) and DHL Western Province U18 flyhalf Damian Willemse (Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Year) as well as Western Province referee Rasta Rasivhenge who won the Outsurance Referee Award for the second successive year.
The Golden Lions however did do exceptionally well at the Awards, with a total of five awards heading back to Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.
The winners from Johannesburg are Malcolm Marx (Young Player of the Year), Elton Jantjies (Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Tournament), Jacques Nel (Supersport Try of the Year) and Johan Ackermann (Coach of the Year), while the “Pride of Jozi”, the Emirates Lions, was named Team of the Year after a superb showing in Vodacom Super Rugby.
The prestigious Players’ Player of the Year Award, presented by MyPlayers and voted for by the players themselves, went to Jean-Luc du Preez of the Cell C Sharks, who was on Saturday included in the Springbok tour squad for the Barbarians match in London early next month.
The winners in the three categories for national teams were Senatla (Steinhoff Springbok Sevens Player of the Year), Curwin Bosch (Junior Springbok Player of the Year) and Marithy Pienaar (Springbok Women Player of the Year). The Outsurance Referee Award went to Rasivhenge for a second successive year.
The winners in the various competitions were Jantjies, Ox Nche of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs (Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year), Masixole Banda of the Border Bulldogs (Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year) and DHL Western Province’s Willemse (Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Year).
SA Rugby, for the first time this year, rewarded one of their member unions with a Best Development Award, which went to the Blue Bulls Rugby Union.
“To see so many young players step up and make their mark certainly bodes well for the future and I would like to congratulate all the winners, as well as those who were nominated,” said Mr Mark Alexander, Acting President of SA Rugby.
“Many of the players who won awards this year, will thrill us for many years to come and I’m certainly excited to see what the future holds for them and South African rugby in its entirety.
“It was a challenging year for South African rugby in many respects, but there were still a lot of wonderful achievements worth celebrating and all the players who won awards tonight, fully deserve to walk away with the spoils.”
The award winners are (followed by nominees in alphabetical order):
SA Rugby Player of the Year: Pieter-Steph du Toit
Nominees: Ruan Combrinck, Eben Etzebeth, Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley
Young Player of the Year: Malcolm Marx
Nominees: Curwin Bosch, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Seabelo Senatla, RG Snyman
Players’ Player of the Year, presented by MyPlayers: Jean-Luc du Preez (Cell C Sharks)
Team of the Year: Emirates Lions (Vodacom Super Rugby)
Nominees: Springbok Sevens, Toyota Free State Cheetahs (Currie Cup Premier Division)
Coach of the Year: Johan Ackermann (Emirates Lions, Xerox Golden Lions)
Nominees: Brent Janse van Rensburg (Boland), Neil Powell (Springbok Sevens)
Junior Springbok Player of the Year: Curwin Bosch
Nominees: Manie Libbok, Jeremy Ward
SA Sevens Player of the Year: Seabelo Senatla
Nominees: Kyle Brown, Rosko Specman
Vodacom Super Rugby Player of Year: Elton Jantjies (Emirates Lions)
Nominees: Ruan Combrinck (Emirates Lions), Warren Whiteley (Emirates Lions)
Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year: Ox Nche (Toyota Free State Cheetahs)
Nominees: Huw Jones (DHL Western Province), Nico Lee (Toyota Free State Cheetahs)
Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year: Masixole Banda (Border)
Nominees: Johan Deysel (Leopards), George Whitehead (Griffons)
Supersport Try of the Year: Jacques Nel (Xerox Golden Lions v DHL Western Province, Currie Cup Premier Division)
Nominees: Garth April (Cell C Sharks v Sunwolves, Vodacom Super Rugby); Ruan Combrinck (Emirates Lions v Crusaders, Vodacom Super Rugby Qualifier); Rohan Janse van Rensburg (second try, Emirates Lions v Vodacom Bulls, Vodacom Super Rugby); Paul Jordaan (second try, Cell C Sharks v Southern Kings, Vodacom Super Rugby); Sylvian Mahuza (Emirates Lions v Southern Kings, Vodacom Super Rugby); Courtnall Skosan (Emirates Lions v Highlanders, Vodacom Super Rugby semi-final and Emirates Lions v Crusaders, Vodacom Super Rugby Qualifier).
Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Year: Damian Willemse (DHL Western Province)
Outsurance Referee Award: Rasta Rasivhenge
Springbok Women’s Achiever Award: Marithy Pienaar
Best Development Programme Award: Blue Bulls Rugby Union
Nominees: KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union, Western Province Rugby Football Union