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Ultimate peer recognition for Am, Davids and Roos

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In a landmark moment for professional rugby players in South Africa, three players have been recognised by their peers with Players’ Player of the Year awards.

Since its inception in 2005*, the South African Players’ Player of the Year has been chosen by the players from predominantly the men’s fifteens game. This year, members of MyPlayers decided to make the circle bigger, introducing three categories: Men’s Fifteens, Men’s Sevens, and Women.

Players had a week to vote for their favourites, and the 2022 recipients of the professional game’s most sought-after peer-to-peer accolades are:

  • Men’s Fifteens Players’ Player of the Year: LUKHANYO AM (other nominees: Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx, Evan Roos, Damian Willemse)
  • Men’s Sevens Players’ Player of the Year: ZAIN DAVIDS (other nominees: Selvyn Davids, JC Pretorius)
  • Women Players’ Player of the Year: NADINE ROOS (other nominees: Ayanda Malinga, Aphiwe Ngwevu, Sizophila Solontsi)

Eugene Henning, CEO of MyPlayers, remarked: “Following the 2021 MyPlayers Awards, several players approached us about the format and categories of the annual player-led honours. It was felt that the Blitzboks and Bok Women, sevens and fifteens, didn’t have a fair chance to be recognised beyond categories such as Best off the Bench, Backline Player or Most Improved Player of the Year. Subsequently, we retired almost all existing categories and introduced only three Players’ Player of the Year awards. By doing this, the players are acknowledging the status and growth of South African rugby beyond the men’s fifteens game.”

Henning congratulated the three recipients: “In 2020 and 2021, the players named Lukhanyo as the Best Defender of the Year, but there is so much more to his game than his defensive abilities. Despite suffering an injury against the Wallabies in Sydney, his fellow players still cast the vast majority of votes in his favour, and him being named Men’s Fifteens Players’ Player of the Year comes as no surprise.

“Zain was included in the HSBC Dream Team following the 2022 World Rugby Sevens Series during which he scored 13 tries, made 68 carries, 18 line breaks and 91 tackles. What the Men’s Sevens Players’ Player of the Year Award shows is that he is also a magnificent team player, and I don’t think there can be a better way to conclude one’s season than receiving this sort of recognition from your teammates.

Zain Davids.

Zain Davids.

“Nadine was nominated in the most tightly contested category of the three, and I think that says something about the team spirit and effort of the Bok Women to elevate the game to a different standard, over the past two years in particular. Nadine is a member of both the national fifteens and sevens squads, and her performances at the recent Sevens World Cup in Cape Town underscored her class as a player, while this reward illustrates how highly her teammates regard her as a player and person. By being named the first Women Players’ Player of the Year, she’s breaking new ground for women’s rugby in South Africa, and her example will inspire many more girls to follow in her footsteps.”

Besides receiving identical trophies, the three recipients are also rewarded with a family and/or friends getaway from The Safari Guys. More details on these prizes will be communicated to the three recipients and on social media.

PLAYER REMARKS:

Lukhanyo Am

Being named Men’s Fifteens Players’ Player of the Year really means a lot to me. It remains a special award to receive, and what makes it great is that it was voted for by my teammates and fellow players.

I am honoured. This has really been an amazing season for me. I had a good start, and I finished it on a high as well before I got injured. Throughout, I felt in good form, and importantly, I felt confident every second I was on the field. For the season that lies ahead, I really hope to take up where I left off.

Zain Davids

I always strive to set an example for my teammates, whether that’s on or off the playing field. On a personal level, this recognition means the world to me. Yes, I play every game as if it’s my last, but I can only hope that my fellow Blitzboks reap the rewards of my efforts. Being named Men’s Sevens Players’ Player of the Year confirms that I am contributing to our team’s success.

In that regard, I must acknowledge the support structures and people I have around me. This enables me to convert individual effort into strong team performances, and while this is an individual award, it does belong to the team as well.

Nadine Roos.

Nadine Roos.

This is the first year members of MyPlayers were given the opportunity to nominate and vote for a Men’s Sevens Players’ Player of the Year, and I think this is a fairer reflection of the South African rugby landscape. I sincerely believe sevens plays a massive role in this country and the team has worked incredibly hard over many years to attain the status sevens now enjoys here and abroad. Just as with fifteens players, we are also goal-driven individuals, and having an accolade such us this rewards players for working hard, playing to inspire others, and chasing our individual and collective goals.

Nadine Roos

I live by the mantra, “Work hard in silence, and let success make the noise”. When I reflect on what it means to me to be named as the first Women Players’ Player of the Year, I have to reflect on the people I spend most of my time with – my teammates. In the off-season, we run the most, work the hardest, and those are the times when we have to push and pull each other through tough moments in pursuit of our ultimate goals. It’s also when players really get to know one another; how hard someone is willing to work and what they stand for.

My teammates know me as someone who always works incredibly hard. I’m tough in training and in matches, and I value a collaborative environment where individuals succeed because of the team. I attach tremendous value to this accolade because it means my contributions are being seen and felt. I want to be known as someone who is always professional and whose work ethic and personality contribute to the wellbeing of the team. Being voted Players’ Player of the Year by them and knowing that they believe in me is truly special. In team sports, having the backing of one’s teammates is a major factor in an individual’s ability to perform.

The introduction of the Women Players’ Player of the Year category is a significant moment for women’s rugby in general. I recall a conversation we had in the team a while back: We wondered when women were going to be given the opportunity to nominate and vote for players in similar categories to those the men have had for quite some time. Now, we can finally say this reward is an acknowledgement of the growth in women’s rugby in South Africa, especially during the last two years.

Players are being seen, and this will undoubtedly contribute to further growth of the national sevens and fifteens women’s teams. Had the teams not developed, there wouldn’t have been players to nominate. But there’s a healthy rivalry among players in both squads, and that allows us to improve our individual and team standards to a level where recognising players becomes a natural progression in the game. This award will serve as an incentive for every player to work even harder.

*Previous recipients of the Men’s Fifteens Players’ Players of the Year award: John Smit (2005), Kabamba Floors (2006), Willem de Waal (2007), Jean de Villiers (2008), Morné Steyn (2009), Gio Aplon (2010), Bismarck du Plessis (2011), JP Pietersen (2012), Willie le Roux (2013), Duane Vermeulen (2014), Jaco Kriel (2015), Jean-Luc du Preez (2016), Siya Kolisi (2017), Malcolm Marx (2018), Pieter-Steph du Toit (2019), Duane Vermeulen (2020), Cheslin Kolbe (2021).

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


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Spencer looking to bring innovation to Sky Super Rugby Aupiki

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Former All Blacks and Blues first five-eighths Carlos Spencer hopes to pass on the sort of rugby that marked his career as a backs coach for the Blues women’s side in Sky Super Rugby Aupiki in 2023.

The 99-time Blues’ pivot played 44 Tests for the All Blacks and 89 games for Auckland during his career spanning the turn of the century. He also played for Northampton and Gloucester in the English Premiership.

Since building his coaching record after completing his rugby-playing career in South Africa in Gauteng, he has coached in the Republic, the United States and the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Now he has taken the chance to join head coach Willie Walker and fellow assistant coach Linda Itunu with the Blues.

Spencer, 47, said: “When I was playing, I always liked to bring a bit of innovation and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking to the table. Now, as a coach, I want to encourage and help grow those same traits in our Blues wahine.”

Like most of New Zealand, he was caught up in the Black Ferns’ World Cup success, and he anticipates there will be a follow-on effect in Sky Super Rugby Aupiki.

“You’ve seen the rise of women’s rugby and the way the public got right in behind the Black Ferns.

“We’re at an exciting juncture for the sport, and I’m looking forward to getting involved and doing what I can to help grow and support women’s rugby.”

“I’ve known Willie [Walker] for a while. We’ve thrown the touch ball around and have a good relationship. He’s done some fantastic work with the Auckland Storm in the Farah Palmer Cup, and I’m looking forward to exchanging ideas and getting the backline humming.

“I don’t know Linda, but have seen her exploits on the field for many years with the Black Ferns – she was an enforcer on the field,”

Blues chief executive Andrew Hore said having Spencer on board with the Blues organisation was special, and was an example of harnessing the resources available within the franchise’s region.

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


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Constructive talks between World Rugby, Erasmus

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South Africa Rugby - Image Credit Asics

World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin and World Rugby Director of Rugby Phil Davies met with South Africa Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus on Thursday and held positive discussions regarding recent events and match official communications in general.

Views were exchanged resulting in a better understanding of the respective positions.

There was agreement that further dialogue was needed in terms of enhancing the process that operates between teams and match officials to ensure all can play their part in creating great spectacles and avoid frustration but in a way that underpins the respect for match officials, coaches and players.

Further dialogue will continue after today’s final Springbok test of the year.

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


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Nienaber, Kolisi praise Boks for special win

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South Africa Rugby - Image Credit Asics

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and captain Siya Kolisi praised the team for their brave effort to earn their first win over England at Twickenham since 2014, and their first personal victories in London as they registered a rewarding 27-13 victory on Saturday.

The Boks built up an encouraging 14-3 halftime lead and managed to stretch it to 27-6 in the 57th minute before being reduced to 14 men for the last 20 minutes after replacement prop Thomas du Toit received a red card for a dangerous tackle. Despite this, the team hung on as if their lives depended on it to snatch the memorable victory.

The result saw the Boks win two of their four matches on the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour – with the two narrow defeats being against the first and second ranked teams in the world in Ireland and France.

“We’ve had a couple of special results as a team, but this was the first win for Siya and I at Twickenham, so it’s very special to us,” said Nienaber.

“The forwards were outstanding and created a good platform for our backs to attack, so all-in-all, it was a fantastic team effort.”

Kolisi echoed lauded the entire team for their efforts to make the victory possible.

“Sometimes we take it for granted what a special environment one is in and the great coaching team we have,” said Kolisi.

“When we got together with most of this coaching team in 2018, we all bought into the plans and the synergy and the way we work together is really special in this group.”

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi thanks the crowd after the Boks won at Twickenham.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi thanks the crowd after the Boks won at Twickenham.

Nienaber was delighted with the way some of the young players rose to the occasion and said: “With this match being outside of the international Test window there were a whole lot of players who were not available for selection, but we have a lot of players knocking on the door and it was great to give those guys an opportunity tonight.

“It’s always good to give those players a chance under such pressure in front of a packed Twickenham, which can be pretty hostile, and they stood up today.”

Asked what he had told his players when they were reduced to 14 men, Kolisi said: “We actually said last week there is nothing we haven’t faced together as a group year. We’ve even been in situation when we had a red card, so the players knew what to do.

“Everyone knew they had to work harder to make up for the extra man, and the way the forwards played was great, and everyone did their bit to get the result.”

Wrapping up the tour, Nienaber said: “This was one of the most enjoyable four weeks we’ve had had even though we only got a 50% win record. The way the team, coaches, management and the game drivers made plans and worked tightly together with it was great, and we can take a lot from this going forward.”

The team will make their journey back to South Africa on Sunday and arrive on their home soil on Monday.

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


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