Vodacom Western Province and Stormers flank Luke Watson scooped the Vodacom Super 14 Player of the Year prize at the annual Absa SA Rugby Awards in Sandton on Wednesday night.
Watson was a key performer for both the Stormers and WP this season. He led a young and inexperienced Province team to Absa Currie Cup semi-finals and was very unfortunate not to be included in the Springbok team this season.
Watson was also strongly in the running for the prestigious Players’ Player of the Year award, but lost out to Kabamba Floors. The loose-forwards got the same amount of votes, but SA Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins used his casting vote in favour of the Cheetahs star.
Another WP player, fullback Gio Aplon, was rewarded with the Supersport Try of the Year award.
Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez is the 2006 Absa SA Rugby Player of the Year. The other nominees for the prestigious award were fellow Springboks Victor Matfield, Os du Randt and Pierre Spies as well as Vodacom Western Province captain, Luke Watson.
Previous winners of this top-accolade include Springboks Andre Vos, Andre Venter, Breyton Paulse, Joe van Niekerk, Ashwin Willemse, Schalk Burger and Bryan Habana.
The Absa SA Rugby Player of the Year Award is the most coveted in the South African game. The Award is presented to the player who has performed consistently well at the highest levels of the game throughout the 2006 season.
The 2006 Players’ Player of the Year Award, which is chosen by the country’s professional players, was awarded to popular Vodacom Free State Cheetahs flanker Kabamba Floors. Previous winners in this category include 1995 World Cup winner Du Randt (2004) and current Springbok captain John Smit (2005).
SA Sevens star Floors also received the Absa Currie Cup Player of the Year Award for his outstanding performances in the Cheetahs jersey.
Watson was awarded the Vodacom Super 14 Player of the Year prize, while another Blue Bull, Stefan Basson is the Sasol SA Sevens Player for 2006.
SARU President Oregan Hoskins, who attended the glittering event with a host of rugby and media personalities as well as corporate sponsors, congratulated the award winners on their achievements.
In referring to yet another successful domestic rugby season, Hoskins praised the players, administrators, match-officials and the many volunteers for their contribution towards the exceptional high standard of rugby produced during the 2006 Absa Currie Cup competition.
“This year’s Competition produced outstanding rugby and a huge amount of excitement for the fans. SARU is especially pleased with the high quality performances delivered by the group of emerging talent. Judging by their performances and in view of the strategic absence of the contracted group of Springboks from the Competition, I am pleased to say that South African rugby is in a very healthy state,” said Hoskins
Springbok newcomer Spies, also a member of the SA U21 team to the IRB World Championships earlier this year in France, was crowned the Sasol Most Promising Player of the Year.
Like Floors, Keegan Daniel walked off with two awards. He was voted as the Vodacom Cup Player of the Year as well as the Sasol SA U21 Player of the Year. Gio Aplon’s sublime effort in the Absa Currie Cup match for the Vodacom Western Province against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Newlands was judged as the Supersport Try of the Year.
Nominees in the 6 main award categories were determined by votes from the country’s rugby media. The independent panel of judges comprising of leading South African rugby journalists, broadcasters and radio commentators, voted to determine the respective winners.
Leading SA referee Jonathan Kaplan added Marriott Referee of the Year title to his impressive list of top-match official awards.
Mandisa Williams of Border and a member of the national women’s team that competed in the country’s first IRB Women’s World Cup Tournament in Canada earlier in the year, was decorated with the British Airways Women’s Rugby Achiever of the Year prize.
In the media categories, Rapport rugby writer JJ Harmse scooped the Sasol Springbok Journalist of the Year. Former Bok World Cup winning lock Kobus Wiese received the Sasol Springbok Commentator of the Year accolade while Wessel Oosthuizen (The Citizen) was praised as the Sasol Springbok Photographer of the Year.
The full list of 2006 Awards winners is as follows:
Absa SA Rugby Player of the Year: Fourie du Preez (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Player’s Player of the Year: Kabamba Floors (Vodacom Free Sate Cheetahs)
Sasol SA Sevens Player of the Year: Stefan Basson (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Sasol Most Promising Player of the Year: Pierre Spies (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Vodacom Rugby Super 14 Player of the Year: Luke Watson (Vodacom Western Province)
Absa Currie Cup Player of the Year: Kabamba Floors (Vodacom Free State Cheetahs)
Vodacom Cup Player of the Year: Keegan Daniel (The Sharks)
Sasol SA U21 Player of the Year: Keegan Daniel (The Sharks)
SA U19 Player of the Year: Francois Steyn (The Sharks)
Supersport Try of the Year: Gio Aplon (Vodacom Western Province)
Fidentia National Club Championship Player of the Tournament: Deon Booysen (Progress Rugby Club, Eastern Province)
British Airways Women’s Rugby Player of the Year: Mandisa Williams (Border)
Marriott Referee of the Year: Jonathan Kaplan (SA Rugby)
Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Tournament: Cecil Afrika (Griffons)
SASOL MEDIA AWARDS
Sasol Springbok Journalist of the Year: JJ Harmse (Rapport)
Sasol Springbok Commentator of the Year: Kobus Wiese (Supersport)
Sasol Springbok Photographer of the Year: Wessel Oosthuizen (The Citizen)