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SA Rugby Awards nominees feature RWC winners but no clear favourite

South Africa's tighthead prop Frans Malherbe (L), South Africa's lock Eben Etzebeth (2L), South Africa's lock Franco Mostert (C) and South Africa's openside flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit (R) stand for the national anthems ahead of the France 2023 Rugby World Cup semi-final match between England and South Africa at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris, on October 21, 2023. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

SA Rugby has today announced the nominees for their annual awards, covering nine categories that includes the prestigious SA Rugby Men’s and Women’s Player of the Year awards for 2023.

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The awards are voted for by members of the media and key stakeholders within the governing body, with the winners named early next year.

Five members of the Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok squad in France – Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe and Damian Willemse – were nominated for the SA Rugby Men’s Player of the Year Award for 2023, with Etzebeth up to defend the title he won last season.

Etzebeth will face stern competition from Kolisi and Du Toit, the winners of the Player of the Year Awards in 2021 and 2019 respectively, as well as Bok scrum anchor Malherbe and Willemse, a previous nominee in the category for Young Player of the Year (U23) and winner of the Youth Weeks Player of the Year Award in 2016.

Nadine Roos will also defend her title as Springbok Women’s Player of the Year, against former winners Aseza Hele and Babalwa Latsha, as well as Libbie Janse van Rensburg and Rights Mkhari.

Four of the five nominees for the Young Player of the Year Award were also on the shortlist last year, when Canan Moodie beat off the challenges of Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Jaden Hendrikse and Evan Roos. This year, Ruan Venter has also been nominated.

The categories for Coach and Team of the Year are straight shootouts between Jacques Nienaber and the Springboks, John Dobson and the DHL Stormers, and Hawies Fourie and the Toyota Cheetahs.

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Ricardo Duarttee, who was named Rookie of the Year Award at the annual HSBC 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 team captain Paul de Villiers, who led the SA U20s to a bronze medal at the World Rugby U20 Championship, as well as Corne Beets and Damian Markus.

On the Currie Cup front, the Toyota Cheetahs’ Ruan Pienaar is up against two Airlink 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,” said Mr Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby.

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“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 that 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 South Africa 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.”

The nominees are:

SA Rugby Men’s Player of the Year

Pieter-Steph du Toit
Eben Etzebeth
Siya Kolisi
Frans Malherbe
Damian Willemse

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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 (DHL Stormers)
Jaden Hendrikse (Springboks / Hollywoodbets Sharks)
Canan Moodie (Springboks / Vodacom Bulls)
Evan Roos (Springboks / DHL Stormers)
Ruan Venter (Emirates 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

Toyota Cheetahs (Currie Cup)
Springboks
DHL Stormers (Vodacom URC)

Coach of the Year

John Dobson (DHL Stormers)
Hawies Fourie (Toyota Cheetahs)
Jacques Nienaber (Springboks)

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Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year

Tinus de Beer (Airlink Pumas)
Ruan Pienaar (Toyota Cheetahs)
Devon Williams (Airlink Pumas)

Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year

Keagan Fortune (Valke)
Darian Hock (Boland Kavaliers)
Cameron Hufke (Boland Kavaliers)

 

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