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Libbok the Vodacom URC fan’s favourite

PUBLISHED: March 14, 2024


DHL Stormers flyhalf Manie Libbok was recognised as the Vodacom URC Fans’ Player of the Season at the SA Rugby Awards 2023 ceremony on Thursday evening.

Libbok was one of five DHL Stormers nominated for awards with Frans Malherbe and Damian Willemse finalists for SA Rugby Men’s Player of the Year and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu and Evan Roos both finalists for the SA Rugby Young Player of the Year award, while DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson was a finalist in the Coach of the Year category.

Libbok was originally handed the award by DHL Stormers superfan Sardiq Slamdien on the eve of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship semifinal against Connacht at DHL Stadium last season.

DHL Western Province U21 stars Paul de Villiers and Damian Markus were also nominated as finalists for the Junior Springbok player of the year award.

Double Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth became only the second player to win back-to-back SA Rugby’s Player of the Year awards when he was recognised for a stellar season at the SA Rugby Awards 2023 at a glittering ceremony at Multichoice City in Johannesburg.

Springbok wing Canan Moodie also did the double by again walking away with the Young Player of the Year Award, while Libbie Janse van Rensburg cleaned up in the women’s categories by being named Springbok Women and Provincial Player of the Year for 2023.

The 32-year-old Etzebeth, who made his Test debut in 2012 and was nominated for World Player of the Year last year, won the main gong in South Africa for a second successive time after consistently high levels of performances in the green and gold as the Springboks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup for a second time in a row in France last October.

The other finalists were Pieter-Steph du Toit, the first player to win back-to-back awards in 2018 and 2019, as well as Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, Malherbe and Willemse.

Janse van Rensburg – the highest international points’ scorer in the history of South African rugby – featured for the Springbok Women in both 15s and sevens last year, and spearheaded the Bulls Daisies’ challenge to win the Women’s Premier Division.

The other nominees were former winners Nadine Roos (2022), Aseza Hele (2019), and Babalwa Latsha (2017), as well as Rights Mkhari, herself an international in 15s and sevens rugby.

Moodie was voted as the Young Player of the Year for a second successive season after another year of stand-out performances for the Springboks and the Vodacom Bulls, beating challenges from his fellow Boks in Jaden Hendrikse and Roos, as well as Feinberg-Mngomezulu and Ruan Venter.

Following their triumph in France, Jacques Nienaber and the Springboks won the awards for Coach and Team of the Year, while Ricardo Duartee was named Springbok Men’s Sevens Player of the Year, and Corne Beets the Junior Springbok Player of the Year.

In a new category, voted for by supporters on social media, Cheslin Kolbe won the SuperSport Fans’ Moment of the Year award for his charge-down of a Thomas Ramos conversion in the RWC quarter-final, a match the Boks won by 29-28 against the hosts in Paris.

Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers – Vodacom URC Fans’ Player of the Season), Ruan Pienaar (Toyota Cheetahs – Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year) and Cameron Hufke (Sanlam Boland Kavaliers – Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year) also walked away with awards on the night for their performances at franchise and provincial level.

The award for Associate Member of the Year was re-introduced in 2023 and the SA Deaf Rugby Association (SADRA) were named the deserved winners. South Africa finished fourth in the World Deaf Rugby Championship in Argentina and after an internal audit, SADRA was judged to be well-governed and growing their footprint in South Africa.

Mr Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby, congratulated all the winners for their contribution to a memorable 2023 season.

“Eben was at the front of the Springboks’ charge to their second Rugby World Cup title, backed up by the rest of the squad, coaches and management, all of whom deserve recognition for a remarkable season for South African rugby,” said Mr Alexander.

“The 2023-season will be ingrained in our memories for decades to come, with the Springboks setting the tone and doing so much for nation building and social cohesion in South Africa, but all of our national teams did well, and we are proud of all the winners.

“It was especially heart-warming to see the big strides made by women’s rugby in the last couple of years and Libbie’s performances for the Springbok Women, as they finished third in WXV 2 and were crowned champions of Africa yet again, and in the colours of the Bulls Daises, as well as that of all the other nominees representing our country across the world, were testament to the great work done in women’s rugby.

“To Jacques Nienaber, Canan Moodie and the Springboks for their awards, congratulations. It’s well deserved, and we are immensely proud of what you achieved last year. The same goes for Ricardo Duarttee and Corne Beets, as well as all the nominees in these various categories.

“Cheslin Kolbe’s charge-down of the conversion in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final underlined the commitment and work-rate we saw from the Boks in France, and the fans agreed.

“On franchise and provincial level in the Vodacom URC and Currie Cup, Manie Libbok, Ruan Pienaar and Cameron Hufke were rewarded for their brilliant form and rightly so, while Jaco Peyper capped off a magnificent career as match official by deservedly winning the OUTsurance Referee of the Year award, and we are excited to see what he will bring to the table in his new role with the Springboks.

“Last but not least, congratulations to our friends at SA Deaf Rugby. After your programme was put on hold by the pandemic, it was great to see you represent South Africa on the international stage and we’d like to thank you for the inspiration, hard work and effort, often in trying circumstances, in giving people with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy and experience our wonderful game.

“To all stakeholders and sponsors involved in the game, a massive thank you for your contribution to a stellar season for SA Rugby, and especially to SuperSport for hosting the award ceremony and for being the best broadcast partner we can ask for. We are massively excited for what the rest of 2024 holds.”

SA Rugby Awards 2023 winners and finalists:

SA Rugby Men’s Player of the Year: Eben Etzebeth
Finalists: Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe, Damian Willemse

Springbok Women’s Player of the Year: Libbie Janse van Rensburg
Finalists: Aseza Hele, Babalwa Latsha, Rights Mkhari, Nadine Roos

SA Rugby Young Player of the Year: Canan Moodie (Springboks / Vodacom Bulls)
Finalists: Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (DHL Stormers), Jaden Hendrikse (Springboks / Cell C Sharks), Evan Roos (Springboks / DHL Stormers), Ruan Venter (Emirates Lions)

Springbok Sevens Men’s Player of the Year: Ricardo Duarttee
Finalists: Christie Grobbelaar, Shilton van Wyk

Junior Springbok Player of the Year: Corne Beets
Finalists: Paul de Villiers, Damian Markus

Team of the Year: Springboks
Finalists: Toyota Cheetahs, DHL Stormers

Coach of the Year: Jacques Nienaber (Springboks)
Finalists: Hawies Fourie (Toyota Cheetahs), John Dobson (DHL Stormers)

Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year: Ruan Pienaar (Toyota Cheetahs)
Finalists: Tinus de Beer (Airlink Pumas), Devon Williams (Airlink Pumas)

Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year: Cameron Hufke (Boland Kavaliers)
Finalists: Keagan Fortune (Valke), Darian Hock (Boland Kavaliers)

SuperSport Fans’ Moment of the Year: Cheslin Kolbe
Finalists: Bongi Mbonambi, Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse

Provincial Women’s Player of the Year: Libbie Janse van Rensburg (Bulls Daisies)

OUTsurance Referee of the Year: Jaco Peyper

Vodacom United Rugby Championship Fans’ Player of the Season (announced last year): Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers)

SA Rugby Associate Member of the Year: SA Deaf Rugby Association