South Africa flanker Schalk Burger was given a double honour on Tuesday when he was named the world IRPA Investec Players’ Player of the year and best international newcomer.
It is the first time that a player has won both major categories at the International Rugby Players’ Association awards, which are voted for by players from the England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and the Tri-nations countries.
The honours complete a hat-trick for the 21-year-old Investec Stormers blindside, who was named 2004 South African player of the year a few weeks ago.
He could soon make it a quartet of awards as he is also on the short list for the International Rugby Board (IRB)’s player of the year title.
“Winning both these awards is a great honour, especially as they are voted for by professional players from all over the world,” said Burger, who made his Springbok debut only last year.
“It has been a fantastic season, with South Africa winning the Tri-nations, and now this caps an incredible year for me.”
Six Nations champions France were named team of the year while Stephen Jones’s superb counter-attacking try against England in the World Cup quarterfinal was the try of the year.
Martin Johnson, who retired from international rugby after leading England to the World Cup last year, was given a special merit award for his outstanding contribution to the game.