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Eben's double double

NEWS: Double World Cup-winning Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth has scored another double.

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Etzebeth became only the second player to win back-to-back Player of the Year awards in South Africa, when he was recognised for a stellar season at a glittering ceremony in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Springbok wing Canan Moodie also did the double by again walking away with the Young Player of the Year Award, while Libbie Janse van Rensburg cleaned up in the women’s categories by being named national women and provincial Player of the Year for 2023.

The 32-year-old Etzebeth, who made his Test debut in 2012 and was nominated for World Player of the Year last year, won the main gong in South Africa for a second successive time after consistently high levels of performances in the Green and Gold as the Springboks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup for a second time in a row in France last October.

The other finalists were Pieter-Steph du Toit, the first player to win back-to-back awards in 2018 and 2019, as well as Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe and Damian Willemse.

Janse van Rensburg – the highest international women’s points scorer in South Africa – featured for the women’s national team in both 15-a-side and Sevens last year, and spearheaded the Bulls Daisies’ challenge to win the women’s Premier Division.

The other nominees were former winners Nadine Roos (2022), Aseza Hele (2019), and Babalwa Latsha (2017), as well as Rights Mkhari, herself an international in 15-a-side and Sevens.

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Moodie was voted as the Young Player of the Year for a second successive season after another year of stand-out performances for the Springboks and the Bulls, beating challenges from his fellow Boks in Jaden Hendrikse and Evan Roos, as well as Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu and Ruan Venter.

Following their triumph in France, Jacques Nienaber and the Springboks won the awards for coach and Team of the Year, while Ricardo Duarte was named national men’s Sevens Player of the Year, and Corne Beets the Junior Player of the Year.

In a new category, voted for by supporters on social media, Cheslin Kolbe won the Fans’ Moment of the Year award for his charge-down of a Thomas Ramos conversion in the World Cup quarterfinal, a match the Boks won by 29-28 against the hosts in Paris.

Manie Libbok (Stormers – URC Fans’ Player of the Season), Ruan Pienaar (Cheetahs – Currie Cup Player of the Year) and Cameron Hufke (Boland Cavaliers – First Division Player of the Year) also walked away with awards for their performances at franchise and provincial level.

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The award for Associate Member of the Year was re-introduced in 2023 and the SA Deaf Rugby Association (SADRA) were named the winners.

South Africa finished fourth in the World Deaf Rugby Championship in Argentina and after an internal audit, SADRA was judged to be well-governed and growing their footprint in South Africa.

Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby, congratulated all the winners for their contribution to a memorable 2023 season.

“Eben was at the front of the Springboks’ charge to their second World Cup title, backed up by the rest of the squad, coaches and management, all of whom deserve recognition for a remarkable season for South Africa,” said Alexander.

“The 2023 season will be ingrained in our memories for decades to come, with the Springboks setting the tone and doing so much for nation-building and social cohesion in South Africa, but all of our national teams did well, and we are proud of all the winners.

“It was especially heart-warming to see the big strides made by the women’s game in the last couple of years and Libbie’s performances for the women’s national team, as they finished third in WXV 2 and were crowned champions of Africa yet again, and in the colours of the Bulls Daises, as well as that of all the other nominees representing our country across the world, were testament to the great work done in the women’s game.

“To Jacques Nienaber, Canan Moodie and the Springboks for their awards, congratulations. It’s well deserved, and we are immensely proud of what you achieved last year. The same goes for Ricardo Duarttee and Corne Beets, as well as all the nominees in these various categories.

“Cheslin Kolbe’s charge-down of the conversion in the World Cup quarterfinal underlined the commitment and workrate we saw from the Boks in France, and the fans agreed.

“On franchise and provincial level in the URC and Currie Cup, Manie Libbok, Ruan Pienaar and Cameron Hufke were rewarded for their brilliant form and rightly so, while Jaco Peyper capped off a magnificent career as match official by deservedly winning the Referee of the Year award, and we are excited to see what he will bring to the table in his new role with the Springboks.

“Last but not least, congratulations to our friends at SA Deaf Rugby. After your programme was put on hold by the pandemic, it was great to see you represent South Africa on the international stage and we’d like to thank you for the inspiration, hard work and effort, often in trying circumstances, in giving people with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy and experience our wonderful game.”

SA Rugby Awards 2023 winners and finalists (where applicable):

Player of the Year: Eben Etzebeth
Finalists: Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe, Damian Willemse

Women’s national Player of the Year: Libbie Janse van Rensburg
Finalists: Aseza Hele, Babalwa Latsha, Rights Mkhari, Nadine Roos

Young Player of the Year: Canan Moodie (Springboks / Bulls)
Finalists: Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (Stormers), Jaden Hendrikse (Springboks / Sharks), Evan Roos (Springboks / Stormers), Ruan Venter (Lions)

Sevens men’s Player of the Year: Ricardo Duarttee
Finalists: Christie Grobbelaar, Shilton van Wyk

Junior Player of the Year: Corne Beets
Finalists: Paul de Villiers, Damian Markus

Team of the Year: Springboks
Finalists: Cheetahs, Stormers

Coach of the Year: Jacques Nienaber (Springboks)
Finalists: Hawies Fourie (Cheetahs), John Dobson (Stormers)

Currie Cup Player of the Year: Ruan Pienaar (Cheetahs)
Finalists: Tinus de Beer (Pumas), Devon Williams (Pumas)

First Division Player of the Year: Cameron Hufke (Boland Cavaliers)
Finalists: Keagan Fortune (Falcons), Darian Hock (Boland Cavaliers)

Fans’ Moment of the Year: Cheslin Kolbe
Finalists: Bongi Mbonambi, Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse

Provincial women’s Player of the Year: Libbie Janse van Rensburg (Bulls Daisies)

Referee of the Year: Jaco Peyper

United Rugby Championship Fans’ Player of the Season (announced last year): Manie Libbok (Stormers)

SA Rugby Associate Member of the Year: SA Deaf Rugby Association

Player of the Year winners (since 1992):
1992: Tiaan Strauss
1993: Gavin Johnson
1994: Chester Williams
1995: Ruben Kruger
1996: André Joubert
1997: Os du Randt
1998: Gary Teichmann
1999: André Venter
2000: Breyton Paulse
2001: André Vos
2002: Joe van Niekerk
2003: Ashwin Willemse
2004: Schalk Burger
2005: Bryan Habana
2006: Fourie du Preez
2007: Bryan Habana
2008: Jean de Villiers
2009: Fourie du Preez
2010: Gurthrö Steenkamp
2011: Schalk Burger
2012: Bryan Habana
2013: Jean de Villiers
2014: Duane Vermeulen
2015: Lood de Jager
2016: Pieter-Steph du Toit
2017: Malcolm Marx
2018: Pieter-Steph du Toit
2019: Pieter-Steph du Toit
2020: Duane Vermeulen
2021: Siya Kolisi
2022: Eben Etzebeth
2023: Eben Etzebeth

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