The Springboks’ Rugby World Cup-winning quintet of Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe and Damian Willemse have been nominated for SA Rugby’s Men’s Player of the Year for 2023.
On Tuesday, SA Rugby announced the 2023 nominees for the nine awards up for grabs. The governing body will reveal the winners early in 2024, along with the annual OUTsurance Referee of the Year and the Provincial Women’s Player of the Year.
The 32-year-old second-row will be amongst the favourites to win the award again, although he will face stiff competition from previous Player of the Year Award winners Kolisi and Du Toit, who won the award in 2021 and 2019 respectively.
Malherbe, who is the linchpin of the Bok scrum, and Willemse, who was the Youth Weeks Player of the Year Award winner in 2016, are also in the running.
Meanwhile, Nadine Roos will also hope to defend her title as South Africa’s Women’s Player of the Year. Roos has been nominated alongside 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 in 2022, when Bulls and Springbok flyer Canan Moodie beat off the challenges of Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Jaden Hendrikse and Evan Roos. Ruan Venter joins the aforementioned quartet amongst the nominees in that category.
Ricardo Duarttee, who was crowned as the Rookie of the Year at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Awards, along with Christie Grobbelaar and Shilton van Wyk have been nominated for the Springbok Sevens Men’s Player of the Year Award.
The nominees for the Junior Springbok Player of the Year Award are team captain Paul de Villiers, who led the SA U20 side 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 the Springboks’ Jacques Nienaber, the Stormers’ John Dobson and Hawies Fourie of the Cheetahs.
Meanwhile, Cheetahs veteran Ruan Pienaar is up against the Pumas pair of Devon Williams and Tinus de Beer for the Premier Division award, while the Boland duo of Cameron Hufke and Darian Hock will do battle with Keagan Fortune of the Valke for the First Division Award.
Wonderful year for South Africa
“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 SA Rugby president Mark Alexander.
“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.”
SA Rugby Men’s Player of the Year
Pieter-Steph du Toit
Springbok Women’s Player of the Year
Libbie Janse van Rensburg
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
Shilton van Wyk
Junior Springbok Player of the Year
Paul de Villiers
Team of the Year
Coach of the Year
John Dobson (DHL Stormers)
Hawies Fourie (Toyota Cheetahs)
Jacques Nienaber (Springboks)
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)