Pieter-Steph du Toit was named the SA Rugby Player of the Year at an awards function in Johannesburg on Monday night.
The 24-year-old follows in the footsteps of Lood de Jager, who walked away with the award for the 2015 season, on a night where no fewer than eight of the winners were aged 25 or younger.
The Springbok and Stormers lock fought off strong challenges for the top award from his middle-row partner Eben Etzebeth, and a trio of Boks from the Lions – Ruan Combrinck, Jaco Kriel and Warren Whiteley.
The Golden Lions, however, did do exceptionally well, with a total of five awards heading back to Ellis Park.
The winners from Johannesburg are Malcolm Marx (Young Player of the Year), Elton Jantjies (Super Rugby Player of the Tournament), Jacques Nel (Supersport Try of the Year) and Johan Ackermann (Coach of the Year), while they were named Team of the Year after a superb showing in Super Rugby.
The prestigious Players’ Player of the Year Award, presented by MyPlayers and voted for by the players themselves, went to Jean-Luc du Preez of the Sharks, who was on Saturday included in the Springbok tour squad for the Barbarians match in London early next month.
The winners in the three categories for national teams were Seabelo Senatla (Springbok Sevens Player of the Year), Curwin Bosch (Junior Springbok Player of the Year) and Marithy Pienaar (Springbok Women Player of the Year). The referee award went to Rasta Rasivhenge for a second successive year.
The winners in the various competitions were Jantjies, Ox Nche of the Free State Cheetahs (Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year), Masixole Banda of the Border Bulldogs (Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year) and Western Province’s Damian Willemse (Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Year).
SA Rugby, for the first time this year, rewarded one of their member unions with a Best Development Award, which went to the Blue Bulls Rugby Union.
'To see so many young players step up and make their mark certainly bodes well for the future and I would like to congratulate all the winners, as well as those who were nominated,' commented SA Rugby acting president Mark Alexander.
The award winners are (followed by nominees in alphabetical order):
Nominees: Curwin Bosch, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Seabelo Senatla, RG Snyman
Team of the Year: Lions (Super Rugby)
Nominees: Springbok Sevens, Free State Cheetahs (Currie Cup Premier Division)
Nominees: Brent Janse van Rensburg (Boland), Neil Powell (Springbok Sevens)
Junior Springbok Player of the Year: Curwin Bosch
Nominees: Manie Libbok, Jeremy Ward
Nominees: Kyle Brown, Rosko Specman
Nominees: Ruan Combrinck (Lions), Warren Whiteley (Lions)
Nominees: Johan Deysel (Leopards), George Whitehead (Griffons)
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images