RWC-winners lead Awards nominations for 2023

RWC-winners lead Awards nominations for 2023

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 coveted SA Rugby Men's Player of the Year Award for 2023.

SA Rugby announced the nominees - as voted for by members of the media and key stakeholders within the governing body - in nine categories on Tuesday. The winners will be named early next year, along with the annual OUTsurance Referee of the Year and the Provincial Women's Player of the Year.

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.

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.

And 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.

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.

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.

"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.

"Locally, the DHL Stormers hosted their second consecutive Vodacom URC final, the Toyota Cheetahs dethroned the Airlink 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."

The nominees are (in alphabetical order):

SA Rugby Men's Player of the YearPieter-Steph du ToitEben EtzebethSiya KolisiFrans MalherbeDamian Willemse

Springbok Women's Player of the YearAseza HeleLibbie Janse van RensburgBabalwa LatshaRights MkhariNadine Roos

SA Rugby Young Player of the YearSacha 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 YearRicardo DuartteeChristie GrobbelaarShilton van Wyk

Junior Springbok Player of the YearCorne BeetsPaul de VilliersDamian Markus

Team of the YearToyota Cheetahs (Currie Cup)SpringboksDHL Stormers (Vodacom URC)

Coach of the YearJohn Dobson (DHL Stormers)Hawies Fourie (Toyota Cheetahs)Jacques Nienaber (Springboks)

Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the YearTinus de Beer (Airlink Pumas)Ruan Pienaar (Toyota Cheetahs)Devon Williams (Airlink Pumas)

Currie Cup First Division Player of the YearKeagan Fortune (Valke)Darian Hock (Boland Kavaliers)Cameron Hufke (Boland Kavaliers)

READ MORE: Springbok heroes dominate SA Rugby Awards nominations