By Kemantha Govender
Durban – Springbok flank Schalk Burger was named the South African Rugby Player of the Year for the second time, having first won the award in 2004.
Burger, 28, was rewarded for his role in leading the Stormers to the Super Rugby play-offs and his outstanding performance at the Rugby World Cup.
Bismarck du Plessis, Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie and Victor Matfield were also considered for the most prestigious award in South African rugby.
There were 16 categories to celebrate rugby excellence across all age groups and competitions at the Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City.
Pat Lambie, 21, was named the Absa Young Player of the Year, building on the fine impression he made in his debut season of 2010 and ending the year as the incumbent Bok fullback.
The Lions’ picked up a hat trick of awards as their Absa Currie Cup success was recognised. They defeated the Sharks to win their first Currie Cup title since 1999.
The Lions were named Team of the Year while their coach, John Mitchell, was selected as the Coach of the Year. Lions captain Josh Strauss won the Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year.
The South African Rugby Players Association (SARPA) Players’ Player of the Year Award went to Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis. The Supersport Try of the Year was awarded to Springbok Sevens flyer Sibusiso Sithole for his tournament-winning score in the final of the Edinburgh Sevens against Australia.
Cecil Afrika, who was recently named the World Sevens Player of the Year after he topped both the top points and try scoring lists during the 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series, walked away with the award for Springbok Sevens Player of the Year.
SARU President Oregan Hoskins said the 2011 season was one of the more significant and satisfying seasons in recent years.
“The on field success of our national and provincial teams will always be of paramount importance, but I believe we have enjoyed a special year in the history of our rugby – perhaps a watershed year,” said Hoskins.
“That’s because our Springbok team has been embraced by all South Africans in a way I have never experienced before. 2011 was the year that fans from all backgrounds stood behind the Boks from the moment the squad was announced. In the past, that kind of affection was dependent on the delivery of a trophy.”
The winners in all the categories are:
* SARU Rugby Player of the Year: Schalk Burger
* Absa Young Player of the Yea: Pat Lambie
* Absa Team of the Year: MTN Golden Lions
* Absa Coach of the Year:John Mitchell (MTN Golden Lions)
* Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year: Sarel Pretorius (Toyota Cheetahs)
* Absa Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year: Josh Strauss (MTN Golden Lions)
* Absa Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year: Elgar Watts (Regent Boland Cavaliers)
* Vodacom Cup Player of the Year: Lionel Cronje (DHL WP)
* SARPA Players’ Player of the Year: Bismarck du Plessis
* Springbok Sevens Player of the Year: Cecil Afrika
* Supersport Try of the Year: Sibusiso Sithole (Springbok Sevens vs Australia in the final of the Edinburgh Sevens)
* SA Under-20 Player of the Year: Arno Botha
* Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Tournament: Jan Serfontein (Free State)
* Marriott Referee Award: Craig Joubert
* Women’s Achiever of the Year: Cebisa Kula
* SARU National Club Championship Player of the Tournament: Justin Wheeler (University of Johannesburg)