Springbok captain Jean de Villiers on Wednesday became only the sixth player to be named South African Rugby Player of the Year more than once, while Eben Etzebeth was named the Young Player of the Year for 2013 for the second successive season at a glittering ceremony at the Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg.
De Villiers led the Springboks to 10 wins in 12 Tests in 2013 and scored five tries in the process, following an outstanding Vodacom Super Rugby campaign for the Stormers.
His first-class record now stands at 254 matches with 91 tries scored.
The blond-haired Springbok captain also walked away with the spoils in 2008.
He becomes only the sixth player to win the title more than once, following in the footsteps of Naas Botha (who won it four times), Bryan Habana (won three times), Uli Schmidt, Fourie du Preez and Schalk Burger (who all won it twice).
De Villiers, who also received the award for Try of the Year after rounding off a superb team effort for the Springboks against Wales in Cardiff, beat off strong competition for the top award in South African rugby from fellow nominees Bismarck du Plessis, Etzebeth, Willie le Roux and Duane Vermeulen.
The 22-year-old Etzebeth became the first player to walk away with back-to-back awards for the Young Player of the Year, which confirmed his status as one of the best up-and-coming players in world rugby after yet another superb season at lock for the Springboks and the Stormers.
The awards to De Villiers and Etzebeth were two of the highlights of a star-studded evening during which accolades in 14 other categories were awarded to the stars of the 2013 rugby season.
The Mpumalanga Rugby Union left with three awards following a highly successful 2013 season for the side from Nelspruit.
Jimmy Stonehouse is the Absa Coach of the Year for his efforts with the Steval Pumas and the SA President’s XV, Rosko Specman was named Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year and the Pumas are the Team of the Year after winning the Currie Cup First Division and finishing runners-up in the Vodacom Cup.
Amongst the three other national teams, Cornal Hendricks (SA Sevens Player of the Year), Cheslin Kolbe (SA Under-20 Player of the Year) and Zenay Jordaan (Women’s Achiever of the Year) were rewarded for their excellent form last season.
The other individual awards in the three remaining professional competitions went to Adriaan Strauss, who captained the Cheetahs to their first-ever playoff appearance in Super Rugby, Scarra Ntubeni (Western Province – Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year) and Fred Zeilinga (Sharks XV – Vodacom Cup Player of the Year).
Le Roux’s exploits for the Cheetahs and the Springboks saw him voted as SARPA’s Players’ Player of the Year – an award voted for by the players themselves.
Jonathan Kaplan, the most experienced Test referee in the world who retired at the end of last season, was honoured for his contribution to the game spanning two decades, while he also received the Referee Award for consistently performing well under pressure in 2013.
Oregan Hoskins, president of SARU, congratulated the winners and applauded their achievements in 2013.
“The Springboks showed massive improvement last year and are now chasing New Zealand hard for the position of top-ranked team in the world, while our Junior Boks and Springbok Sevens teams also performed very well,” said Hoskins.
“In Super Rugby, the Bulls and Cheetahs were top of the local pile, while the standard of play across all levels on local soil was of the highest standard.
“As we prepare for what promises to be a massive year ahead, I would like to congratulate every winner on their awards, but would also like to thank every player, coach, administrator, referee, sponsor and all other role players for making 2013 a season to remember.”
The winners and finalists (where applicable) in all the categories for 2013 are:
SARU rugby player of the year:
Winner: Jean de Villiers
Finalists: Bismarck du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Willie le Roux, Duane Vermeulen
Young player of the year:
Winner: Eben Etzebeth
Finalists: Pieter-Steph du Toit, Cheslin Kolbe, Siya Kolisi, Jan Serfontein
SARPA players’ player of the year:
Willie le Roux (Springboks,Cheetahs, Griquas)
Springbok Sevens player of the year:
Winner: Cornal Hendricks
Finalists: Frankie Horne, Seabelo Senatla
SA Under-20 Player of the year:
Winner: Cheslin Kolbe
Finalists: Jacques du Plessis, Seabelo Senatla
Team of the year:
Finalists: The Sharks (Absa Currie Cup), Springboks
Coach of the year:
Winner: Jimmy Stonehouse (Pumas, SA President’s XV)
Finalists: Heyneke Meyer (Springboks), Brendan Venter (Sharks)
Super Rugby player of the year:
Winner: Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs)
Finalists: Willie le Roux (Cheetahs), Duane Vermeulen (Stormers)
Currie Cup premier division player of the year:
Winner: Scarra Ntubeni (Western Province)
Finalists: Cheslin Kolbe (Western Province), Fred Zeilinga (Sharks)
Currie Cup first division player of the year:
Winner: Rosko Specman (Pumas)
Finalists: Alshaun Bock (SWD Eagles), Tiger Mangweni (EP Kings)
Vodacom Cup player of theyYear:
Winner: Fred Zeilinga (Sharks XV)
Finalists: Marnitz Boshoff (Golden Lions), Rosko Specman (Pumas)
Try of the year:
Winner: Jean de Villiers (Springboks v Wales in Cardiff)
Finalists: Zane Kirchner (Springboks v Australia, Cape Town), Bryan Habana (Springboks v New Zealand, Johannesburg), JP Pietersen (Springboks v Scotland, Edinburgh), Jano Vermaak (Bulls v Kings, Port Elizabeth), Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks v Highlanders, Dunedin), Pat Lambie (Sharks v Bulls, Pretoria), Riaan Smit (Free State Cheetahs v Blue Bulls, Pretoria), Rocco Jansen (Griquas v Golden Lions, Johannesburg), Gio Aplon (Western Province v Sharks, Cape Town).
Marriott referee award: Jonathan Kaplan
Women’s achiever of the year: Zenay Jordaan (Eastern Province)
Cell C Community Cup player of the tournament: Giovano Fourie (GAP Management Despatch)
Craven Week player of the tournament: Grant Hermanus (Western Province)