SA Rugby invent awards so Boks can actually win something in 2021
Not good enough to be nominated for any actual World Rugby awards, SA Rugby have been forced to event their own awards so the Boks could actually win something in 2021.
Five star Springboks – Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi and Makazole Mapimpi – are up against each other for the coveted SA Rugby Player of the Year award for 2021 after earning the most votes in the annual nomination process.
SA Rugby announced the nominees in eight categories on Friday. All the winners will be named in 2022, when two new awards recognizing women’s rugby will be announced, the Springbok Women’s and Provincial Women’s Players of the Year, as well as the annual OUTsurance Referee of the Year.
Springbok captain Kolisi, the only player to start in all 13 Tests this year, played a typical captain’s innings while Etzebeth, the most experienced member of the current Springbok squad, was one of the most consistent players this season, often leading the charge of the pack.
Am and De Allende, who have now started together as Bok centre partners in 22 Tests, formed a lethal midfield combination, often opening up space on the outside for Mapimpi to score, with the Bok speedster scoring six tries this year.
After a good year in which they won the Castle Lager Lions Series, beat the All Blacks and won two of their three Tests in November, the Springboks and their head coach, Jacques Nienaber, are also up for awards and will square off against the Blitzboks and Neil Powell, as well as the Carling Currie Cup-winning Vodacom Bulls and Jake White for the Team and Coach of the Year awards.
The Hendrikse brothers, Jaden and Jordan, are two of the five nominees in the category for Young Player of the Year, where they will face stiff opposition from Aphelele Fassi, and two of the best young loose forwards in the country in Elrigh Louw and Evan Roos.
Jaden Hendrikse (scrumhalf) and Fassi (fullback) earned their first Springbok caps this year (both scoring tries on debut for South Africa), while Jordan Hendrikse was nominated in a second category, the Junior Springbok Player of the Year, along with Jan-Hendrik Wessels and Henco van Wyk.
The Blitzboks – winners of four tournaments in 2021 – finished the year on a very high note and the competition for Springbok Sevens Player of the Year will be tightly contested between one of their bright new stars in Ronald Brown, as well as the experienced duo of Selvyn Davids and Siviwe Soyizwapi, captain of the national sevens side.
Capping off a fine season, Louw (Vodacom Bulls) and Roos (DHL WP) also feature in two categories and will be up against each other for the Carling Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year, against Vodacom Bulls flyhalf Johan Goosen.
In the final category, Dylan Maart (Boland Kavaliers), Anrich Richter (Valke) and Danrich Visagie (Leopards) are up against each other for the Carling Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year.
An exciting new category was added to the roster this year, namely the Castle Lager Test Try of the Year, where supporters will have the final say in who walks away with this accolade.
Included on the list of nominees – all of which can be viewed here – are tries by De Allende, Mapimpi, Fassi, and Cheslin Kolbe, as well as Springbok Women’s players Zintle Mpupha and Libbie Janse van Rensburg.
Mr Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby, congratulated all the nominees on their performances and achievements in 2021.
“It was a very challenging season for all involved, but with typical South African tenacity we got through the year and I would like to congratulate all the nominees on their achievements,” said Mr Alexander.
“After not playing a single Test in 2020, the Springboks showed massive heart, courage and determination, not only for winning the series against a very strong British & Irish Lions side in difficult conditions, but then having to travel abroad for seven consecutive Tests against the best sides in the world.
“To finish the season as the top-ranked team in the world deserves praise and we are all very proud of them, while our Springbok Sevens and Junior Bok teams both had stellar seasons. Congratulations to all the players, coaches and team management for their invaluable hard work.
“On the provincial front, we saw excellent rugby played across the board as all of our teams finally came of the pandemic-enforced shutdown.
“This season was also significant as our Springbok Women toured abroad for the first time in three years and we had a double-round of high-quality provincial action, as women’s rugby is building and we are on a long-term pathway to really lift the game for girls and women.”
“As we prepare for what promises to be a massive year in 2022, I would like to congratulate everyone on their nominations, and wish them well for next year.
“But this extends further than just the players who were nominated – our most sincere gratitude goes out to every player, coach, administrator, referee, sponsor and all other significant role players for making 2021 a season to remember.”
An award for the Player of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship will be made at the conclusion of the competition next year.
Credit: SA Rugby