Springboks behemoth and reigning World Rugby player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit has been crowned the world’s best flanker after defeating All Blacks star Ardie Savea in a fan-voted poll on social media.

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The towering 27-year-old raked won by the slightest of margins after raking in 52 percent of the fan vote on RugbyPass‘ Facebook and Instagram accounts as part of the Straight 8 Fan Vote campaign to determine the best player on the planet in each position.

Du Toit and Savea were the last players standing in the third and final round of voting after having dispatched some significant names in the quarter-final and semi-final stages of the knockout bracket.

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After securing a landslide 82 percent victory over French loose forward Charles Ollivon, du Toit fought off the challenge of promising young Englishman Tom Curry by accruing nearly 57 percent of the vote.

On the flip side of the draw, Savea dominated proceedings against Welsh veteran Justin Tipuric as he fell in favour of 76.5 percent of the public.

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He followed up with another comfortable victory against Springboks captain Siya Kolisi after accumulating 61 percent of the vote, but his explosive ball-running and exceptional work rate wasn’t enough to tip up du Toit in the final.

The Stormers utility forward, who can also cover lock as well as blindside flanker, became the third South African to claim World Rugby’s player of the year award in 2019, following in the footsteps of Schalk Burger and Bryan Habana.

His acknowledgement as the world’s best player came after he played an integral role in the Springboks’ World Cup-winning campaign in Japan last year, where his prowess at the lineout and physicality on both sides of the ball proved vital.

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Although he missed out on top spot in the fan vote, Savea – who was nominated for last year’s player of the year award – can take solace in that he will join du Toit in the RugbyPass Straight 8 Fan Vote World XV by virtue of being one of the final two flankers.

The Hurricanes loose forward and du Toit will join second rowers Maro Itoje and Eben Etzebeth in the side after Itoje defeated Etzebeth in the final round of the first instalment of the Straight 8 Fan Vote campaign vote for locks earlier this week.

The Straight 8 Fan Vote will begin its third instalment early next week.

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