Springbok wing Cheslin Kolbe walked away with the Players’ Player of the Year, while Duane Vermeulen secured the Fans’ Choice Award at the fifth annual BrightRock Players’ Choice Awards on Thursday.
At a virtual ceremony, BrightRock Players’ Choice Awards in partnership with MyPlayers revealed South African rugby’s top professional players in 2021, as voted for by their peers.
The awards, held for the players by the players, aim to celebrate South Africa’s top professional rugby talent, acknowledging those who have not only excelled in the sport but have also embodied rugby’s indomitable spirit over the past year. The winners are true ambassadors for their sporting code, having displayed characteristics such as commitment, resilient determination, and pure talent during one of rugby’s most unpredictable seasons.
In total, 30 players were nominated across seven award categories. After a short absence from the 2020 awards, the popular Fans’ Choice category made a welcome return this year, allowing fans to have their say. The winner of this year’s Fans’ Choice Award, Duane Vermeulen, has secured a boost of R30,000 for rugby’s caring hands, the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund.
Another exciting feature of this year’s ceremony was the nomination of two professional women’s rugby players, with Lusanda Dumke receiving the LoveChange Award for Most Improved Player, just a month after being appointed captain of the Springbok Women’s team.
” It means a lot to me as an individual player, but it also means a lot to professional women’s rugby as a whole,” Dumke said of her achievement.
“This victory, in my opinion, demonstrates that we, as South Africa’s professional women’s rugby team, are doing a fantastic job. We are grateful for all of the wonderful support we have received in recent months and can assure South Africans that this is only the beginning for us. We are already looking forward to achieving more victories for South African women’s rugby at next year’s awards.”
Forward Player of the Year
Siya Kolisi (Springboks | Sharks)
Backline Player of the Year
Damian de Allende (Springboks)
Defender of the Year
Lukhanyo Am (Springboks | Sharks)
Best off the Bench
Trevor Nyakane (Springboks | Bulls)
LoveChange Most Improved Player
Lusanda Dumke (Springboks Women | Border)
Fans’ Choice Award
Duane Vermeulen (Springboks)
Players’ Player of the Year
Cheslin Kolbe (Springboks)
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix