Springbok captain Jean de Villiers on Wednesday became only the sixth player to be named South African Rugby Player of the Year more than once, while Eben Etzebeth was named the Young Player of the Year for 2013 for the second successive season at a glittering ceremony at the Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg.
De Villiers led the Springboks to 10 wins in 12 Tests in 2013 and scored five tries in the process following an outstanding Vodacom Super Rugby campaign for the DHL Stormers. His first-class record now stands at 254 matches with 91 tries scored.
The blond-haired Springbok captain also walked away with the spoils in 2008. He becomes only the sixth player to win the title more than once, following in the footsteps of Naas Botha (who won it four times), Bryan Habana (won three times), Uli Schmidt, Fourie du Preez and Schalk Burger (who all won it twice).
De Villiers, who also received the award for Supersport Try of the Year after rounding off a superb team effort for the Springboks against Wales in Cardiff, beat off strong competition for the top award in South African rugby from fellow nominees Bismarck du Plessis, Etzebeth, Willie le Roux and Duane Vermeulen.
The 22-year-old Etzebeth became the first player to walk away with back-to-back awards for the Young Player of the Year, which confirmed his status as one of the best up-and-coming players in world rugby after yet another superb season at lock for the Springboks and the DHL Stormers.
The awards to De Villiers and Etzebeth were two of the highlights of a star-studded evening during which accolades in 14 other categories were awarded to the stars of the 2013 rugby season.
The Mpumalanga Rugby Union left with three awards following a highly successful 2013 season for the side from Nelspruit. Jimmy Stonehouse is the Absa Coach of the Year for his efforts with the Steval Pumas and the SA President’s XV, Rosko Specman was named Absa Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year and the Steval Pumas are the Absa Team of the Year after winning the Absa Currie Cup First Division and finishing runners-up in the Vodacom Cup.
Amongst the three other national teams, Cornal Hendricks (SA Sevens Player of the Year), Cheslin Kolbe (SA Under-20 Player of the Year) and Zenay Jordaan (Women’s Achiever of the Year) were rewarded for their excellent form last season.
The other individual awards in the three remaining professional competitions went to Adriaan Strauss, who captained the Toyota Cheetahs to their first-ever playoff appearance in Vodacom Super Rugby, Scarra Ntubeni (DHL Western Province – Absa Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year) and Fred Zeilinga (Sharks XV – Vodacom Cup Player of the Year).
Willie le Roux’s exploits for the Toyota Cheetahs and the Springboks saw him voted as SARPA’s Players’ Player of the Year – an award voted for by the players themselves.
Jonathan Kaplan, the most experienced Test referee in the world who retired at the end of last season, was honoured for his contribution to the game spanning two decades, while he also received the Marriott Referee Award for consistently performing well under pressure in 2013.
Mr Oregan Hoskins, President of the South African Rugby Union, congratulated the winners and applauded their achievements in 2013.
“The Springboks showed massive improvement last year and are now chasing New Zealand hard for the position of top-ranked team in the world, while our Junior Boks and Springbok Sevens teams also performed very well,” said Mr Hoskins.
“In Vodacom Super Rugby, the Vodacom Bulls and Toyota Cheetahs were top of the local pile, while the standard of play across all levels on local soil was of the highest standard.
“As we prepare for what promises to be a massive year ahead, I would like to congratulate every winner on their awards, but would also like to thank every player, coach, administrator, referee, sponsor and all other role players for making 2013 a season to remember.”
The winners and finalists (where applicable) in all the categories for 2013 are:
SARU Rugby Player of the Year
Winner: Jean de Villiers
Finalists: Bismarck du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Willie le Roux, Duane Vermeulen
Absa Young Player of the Year
Winner: Eben Etzebeth
Finalists: Pieter-Steph du Toit, Cheslin Kolbe, Siya Kolisi, Jan Serfontein
SARPA Players’ Player of the Year: Willie le Roux (Springboks, Toyota Cheetahs, GWK Griquas)
Springbok Sevens Player of the Year
Winner: Cornal Hendricks
Finalists: Frankie Horne, Seabelo Senatla
SA Under-20 Player of the Year
Finalists: Jacques du Plessis, Seabelo Senatla
Absa Team of the Year
Winner: Steval Pumas
Finalists: The Sharks (Absa Currie Cup), Springboks
Absa Coach of the Year
Winner: Jimmy Stonehouse (Steval Pumas, SA President’s XV)
Finalists: Heyneke Meyer (Springboks), Brendan Venter (The Sharks)
Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year
Winner: Adriaan Strauss (Toyota Cheetahs)
Finalists: Willie le Roux (Toyota Cheetahs), Duane Vermeulen (DHL Stormers)
Absa Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year
Winner: Scarra Ntubeni (DHL Western Province)
Finalists: Cheslin Kolbe (DHL Western Province), Fred Zeilinga (The Sharks)
Absa Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year
Winner: Rosko Specman (Steval Pumas)
Finalists: Alshaun Bock (SWD Eagles), Tiger Mangweni (EP Kings)
Vodacom Cup Player of the Year
Winner: Fred Zeilinga (Sharks XV)
Finalists: Marnitz Boshoff (Golden Lions), Rosko Specman (Steval Pumas)
Supersport Try of the Year
Winner: Jean de Villiers (Springboks v Wales in Cardiff)
Finalists: Zane Kirchner (Springboks v Australia, Cape Town), Bryan Habana (Springboks v New Zealand, Johannesburg), JP Pietersen (Springboks v Scotland, Edinburgh), Jano Vermaak (Vodacom Bulls v Southern Kings, Port Elizabeth), Lwazi Mvovo (The Sharks v Highlanders, Dunedin), Pat Lambie (The Sharks v Vodacom Bulls, Pretoria), Riaan Smit (Toyota Free State Cheetahs v Vodacom Blue Bulls, Pretoria), Rocco Jansen (GWK Griquas v Golden Lions, Johannesburg), Gio Aplon (DHL Western Province v The Sharks, Cape Town).
Marriott Referee Award: Jonathan Kaplan
Women’s Achiever of the Year: Zenay Jordaan (Eastern Province)
Cell C Community Cup Player of the Tournament: Giovano Fourie (GAP Management Despatch)
Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Tournament: Grant Hermanus (Western Province)