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JOHANNESBURG — The coach of the 2007 World Cup-winning Springbok team, Jake White, would hardly be surprised that Pieter-Steph du Toit has won a second SA Rugby Player of the Year award in three years. When du Toit first arrived on the scene, White predicted that he would become one of the greats, describing him as the most talented player he had ever coached. White said he had the ability to become the best lock, the best 8th-man and the best flanker in the world. Still only 26, du Toit has plenty of Test match rugby to play as long as he remains injury-free. Given his work rate and physicality on the field, it’s remarkable that he has played as much rugby without breaking down. Remember the start to his international career – he played two Tests on the Boks’ end-of-year tour against Wales and France in 2013 and then was injured for so long that he missed the entire international season in 2014 and only returned to the Test team in August 2015 for the Rugby Championship. Since then he’s barely been out of the international spotlight, either in the starting line-up or coming on as an impact player off the bench, and either in the second row or the side of the scrum (and once as 8thman). He’ll be one of the players around whom coach Rassie Erasmus will be building his World Cup squad for Japan later this year. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
Pieter-Steph du Toit produced a remarkable feat when he was named the SA Rugby Player of the Year for 2018 on Thursday, marking the second time in three years that the athletic Springbok forward scooped the top award in South African rugby.
By walking away with the most prestigious title on offer in South African rugby, Du Toit became only the fifth player since 1992 to claim the crown more than once. The others are Bryan Habana (2005, 2007 and 2012), Schalk Burger (2004 and 2011), Jean de Villiers (2008 and 2013) and Fourie du Preez (2006 and 2009).
The 26-year-old Du Toit, who has collected 46 caps since his Test debut in 2013, was sublime in the green and gold last year. His efforts on the field saw him edge out fellow Boks Aphiwe Dyantyi, Franco Mostert, Handré Pollard and last year’s winner, Malcolm Marx, for the top award.
Apart from captaining the Boks in their season-opener against Wales in the USA, Du Toit made a staggering 202 tackles, 128 ball carries and took 28 lineouts in 14 Tests last year. He and Steven Kitshoff are the only players who featured in every Springbok match of 2018.
“This is a magnificent achievement for Pieter-Steph and very well deserved after a superb season for the Springboks and the DHL Stormers. On behalf of the entire South African rugby fraternity, I would like to congratulate him,” said SA Rugby President, Mr Mark Alexander.
“Pieter-Steph was a tireless work-horse for the Springboks in 2018 and apart from the many big hits and strong runs he put in, he also played a key leadership role within the team. He’s only 26 and by all accounts he still has his best years ahead – something I’m sure most Bok supporters will keep a very keen eye on.”
The Springbok Sevens team and their coach, Neil Powell, recorded a unique double when they were rewarded for another superb season in which they successfully defended their HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series title in dramatic fashion, by winning the awards for Team and Coach of the Year.
Dylan Sage, who made the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Dream Team for 2017/18, was named Springbok Sevens Player of the Year.
“For the second successive season Neil, Philip Snyman, Dylan and their band of Blitzbok brothers made us all very proud, and yet again they deserve walking away with these awards,” said Mr Alexander.
Springbok tourist Sergeal Petersen, who scored eight tries in eight matches for DHL Western Province last year, was the Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year, while the Valke’s Etienne Taljaard, with 13 tries in seven appearances, won the accolade for the First Division.
The SuperSport Rugby Challenge Player of the Year Award went to Chris Smith of the ISG Pumas – he scored 131 points for the eventual champions of the series – and Evan Roos of DHL Western Province was the Craven Week Player of the Year for 2018.
Jaco Peyper, who refereed his fourth Currie Cup Premier Division final as well as a Vodacom Super Rugby semi-final and several important Tests, was named the Outsurance Referee of the Year.
“Our very hearty congratulations go to all the winners on their achievements last year. Judging by the way in which these players and teams performed in 2018, and the fact that we’re in a Rugby World Cup year, I can’t wait for 2019’s action to pick up steam,” said Mr Alexander.
All the winners are:
SA Rugby Player of the Year: Pieter-Steph du Toit
Other nominees: Aphiwe Dyanyti, Malcolm Marx, Franco Mostert, Handré Pollard
SA Rugby Young Player of the Year: Sbu Nkosi
Other nominees: Aphelele Fassi, Embrose Papier, RG Snyman, Damian Willemse
Team of the Year: Springbok Sevens
Other nominees: Emirates Lions (Vodacom Super Rugby), Cell C Sharks (Currie Cup)
Coach of the Year: Neil Powell
Other nominees: Swys de Bruin, Rassie Erasmus
Springbok Sevens Player of the Year: Dylan Sage
Other nominees: Werner Kok, Ruhan Nel
Junior Springbok Player of the Year: Wandisile Simelane
Other nominees: Salmaan Moerat, Tyrone Green, Damian Willemse
Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Tournament: Aphiwe Dyantyi (Emirates Lions)
Other nominees: Malcolm Marx, Franco Mostert (both Emirates Lions)
Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year: Sergeal Petersen (DHL Western Province)
Other nominees: SP Marais (DHL Western Province), Akker van der Merwe (Cell C Sharks)
Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year: Etienne Taljaard (Valke)
Other nominees: Divan Nel (SWD Eagles), Anrich Richter (Valke)
SuperSport Rugby Challenge Player of the Year: Chris Smith (ISG Pumas)
Other nominees: Enver Brandt (Tafel Lager Griquas), Ruwellyn Isbell (ISG Pumas), Stefan Ungerer (ISG Pumas)
Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Tournament
Evan Roos (DHL Western Province)
Outsurance Referee of the Year
Women’s Achiever of the Year
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