Two Springboks, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Cheslin Kolbe, are amongst the six nominees announced on Friday by World Rugby on the shortlist for the prestigious Player of the Year awards for 2019.
The winners will be crowned at the World Rugby Awards at The Prince Park Tower in Tokyo, Japan, on 3 November, when one of Du Toit or Kolbe will be looking to emulate the only two Springboks to have won this award – Schalk Burger (2004) and Bryan Habana (2007).
Following a stellar year for international rugby culminating in a very special Rugby World Cup 2019, the shortlists for the ultimate accolade feature players who have excited and inspired fans around the world with their feats during the year.
Apart from Du Toit and Kolbe, the nominees for World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard are Tom Curry (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Ardie Savea (New Zealand) and Joe Taufete’e (USA).
The shortlist was selected by the star-studded World Rugby Awards men’s panel, which comprises Rugby World Cup winners Richie McCaw, John Smit, George Gregan, Maggie Alphonsi and Melodie Robinson, alongside Fiona Coghlan, Brian O’Driscoll, Fabien Galthié, Agustín Pichot and Seilala Mapusua.
International players have also had the opportunity to vote to determine the nominees of the prestigious awards.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The World Rugby Men’s and Women’s 15s Player of the Year awards are the ultimate accolade for test players and this year there have been an exceptional number of outstanding candidates. I would like to congratulate all 11 players who, deservingly, have been nominated for this year’s award.”
In the citation regarding the two nominated Springboks, World Rugby said:
PIETER-STEPH DU TOIT (SOUTH AFRICA)
A linchpin in the South African pack, Du Toit has started eight of the Springboks’ 10 tests in 2019 and been an unused replacement in the RWC 2019 win over Canada. The towering 27-year-old may have flitted between second-row and flanker in the early days of his international career, but he has made the No 7 jersey his own over the last two years and his work-rate and versatility mean he is one of the first names down on Rassie Erasmus’ team sheet.
CHESLIN KOLBE (SOUTH AFRICA)
The dancing feet of Kolbe have lit up Rugby World Cup 2019 with the diminutive winger showing that size isn’t everything, his footwork and pace allowing him to turn a defence inside out and leave players clutching at thin air in his wake. The Springbok, who turned 26 earlier this week, has started six tests in 2019 and scored five tries, including two in the pool stage against Italy when he was named Player of the Match. An ankle injury ruled him out of the semi-final with Wales, but the Springboks will be delighted he is back for the final.
World Rugby also announced the nominees for Women’s 15s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard. They are Sarah Bern (England), Pauline Bourdon (France), Kendra Cocksedge (New Zealand), Katy Daley-Mclean (England) and Emily Scarratt (England).
These awards are two of 12 categories of awards, including the World Rugby Team of the Year, of which the Springboks are one of the nominated sides; the World Rugby Coach of the Year, where Rassie Erasmus was nominated; the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in association with Tudor, where Herschel Jantjies made the shortlist; and the World Rugby Men’s and Women’s Sevens Players of the Year in association with HSBC.
Previous World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year Award winners:
2018 – Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
2017 – Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
2016 – Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
2015 – Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2014 – Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)
2013 – Kieran Read (New Zealand)
2012 – Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2011 – Thierry Dusautoir (France)
2010 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2009 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2008 – Shane Williams (Wales)
2007 – Bryan Habana (South Africa)
2006 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2005 – Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2004 – Schalk Burger (South Africa)
2003 – Jonny Wilkinson (England)
2002 – Fabien Galthié (France)
2001 – Keith Wood (Ireland)
Previous World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year Award winners:
2018 – Jessy Trémoulière (France)
2017 – Portia Woodman (New Zealand)
2016 – Sarah Hunter (England)
2015 – Kendra Cocksedge (New Zealand)
2014 – Magali Harvey (Canada)
2012 – Michaela Staniford (England)
2011 – Ruth Mitchell
2010 – Carla Hohepa (New Zealand)
2009 – Debby Hodgkinson (Australia)
2008 – Carol Isherwood (England)
2007 – Sarah Corrigan (Australia)
2006 – Maggie Alphonsi (England)
2005 – Farah Palmer (New Zealand)
2004 – Donna Kennedy (Scotland)
2003 – Kathy Flores (USA)
2002 – Monique Hirovanaa (New Zealand)
2001 – Shelley Rae (England)