Springbok World Cup winners lead SA Rugby awards nominations
Eben Etzebeth up against Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit to defend his title
Five members of the Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok squad — Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe and Damian Willemse — have been nominated for the coveted SA Rugby men’s player of the year award for 2023.
Etzebeth is defending the title he won last season.
SA Rugby announced the nominees, as voted for by members of the media and key stakeholders in the governing body, in nine categories on Tuesday. The winners will be named early in 2024, along with the referee of the year and the provincial women’s player of the year.
Etzebeth will face strong competition from Kolisi and Du Toit, the winners of the player of the year awards in 2021 and 2019 respectively, Bok scrum anchor Malherbe, and Willemse, a previous nominee in the category for young player of the year (under-23) and winner of the youth week’s player of the year in 2016.
Nadine Roos will also defend her title as Springbok women’s player of the year against Libbie Janse van Rensburg, Rights Mkhari and former winners Aseza Hele and Babalwa Latsha.
Four of the five nominees for young player of the year were also on the shortlist in 2022, when Canan Moodie beat off the challenges of Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Jaden Hendrikse and Evan Roos. This year, Ruan Venter has also been nominated.
Ricardo Duarttee, who was named rookie of the year at the annual World Rugby Sevens Series awards, is up against Christie Grobbelaar and Shilton van Wyk for the Springbok Sevens men’s player of the year award.
The three nominees for the Junior Springbok player of the year award are captain Paul de Villiers, who led the SA U-20s to a bronze medal at the World Rugby U-20 Championship, Corné Beets and Damian Markus.
The categories for coach and team of the year are straight shoot-outs between Jacques Nienaber and the Springboks, John Dobson and the Stormers and Hawies Fourie and the Cheetahs.
On the Currie Cup front, the Cheetahs’ Ruan Pienaar is up against two Pumas players in Devon Williams and Tinus de Beer for the Premier Division award, while the Boland duo of Cameron Hufke and Darian Hock are up against Keagan Fortune of the Valke for the First Division award.
“We had a wonderful year culminating in the Rugby World Cup victory, and I would like to congratulate all the nominees not only for their performances during the year, but also for their contribution to the local rugby landscape,” SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said.
“All the names on the list of nominees can look back at the year and be proud of their performances. Rugby is a team game, and I’m sure all of them will agree nothing is possible without the player next to you, but they stood out and deserve these nominations.
“All of our national teams were in action this year, with varying degrees of success, but every single player put their country first whenever and wherever they took the field, and I would like to thank them for that.
“A special word of thanks and congratulations to Jacques, Siya and the Springboks, though. You were great ambassadors for SA and by defending the Webb Ellis Cup in France. You have ensured that the name of the Bok team of 2023 will forever be written in the annals of our game as one of the greatest.
“Locally, the Stormers hosted their second consecutive URC final, the Cheetahs dethroned the Pumas in the Currie Cup Premier Division, the Boland Kavaliers and Valke stood out in the First Division and Mzansi Challenge, and the Bulls Daisies were unbeaten in the season to secure the Women’s Premier Division title.
“I would like to sincerely thank every player, coach, administrator, referee, sponsor and all other significant role players for playing their part in making the 2023 season one for the ages.”
Nominees (in alphabetical order):
SA Rugby men’s player of the year
- Pieter-Steph du Toit
- Eben Etzebeth
- Siya Kolisi
- Frans Malherbe
- Damian Willemse
Springbok women’s player of the year
- Aseza Hele
- Libbie Janse van Rensburg
- Babalwa Latsha
- Rights Mkhari
- Nadine Roos
SA Rugby young player of the year
- Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (Stormers)
- Jaden Hendrikse (Springboks/Sharks)
- Canan Moodie (Springboks/Bulls)
- Evan Roos (Springboks/Stormers)
- Ruan Venter (Lions)
Springbok Sevens men’s player of the year
- Ricardo Duarttee
- Christie Grobbelaar
- Shilton van Wyk
Junior Springbok player of the year
- Corne Beets
- Paul de Villiers
- Damian Markus
Team of the year
- Cheetahs (Currie Cup)
- Stormers (URC)
Coach of the year
- John Dobson (Stormers)
- Hawies Fourie (Cheetahs)
- Jacques Nienaber (Springboks)
Currie Cup Premier Division player of the year
- Tinus de Beer (Pumas)
- Ruan Pienaar (Cheetahs)
- Devon Williams (Pumas)
Currie Cup First Division player of the year
- Keagan Fortune (Valke)
- Darian Hock (Boland Kavaliers)
- Cameron Hufke (Boland Kavaliers)
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