An emotional Duane Vermeulen was the star of the annual South African Rugby Union Player of the Year Awards when he walked off with three awards, including the main award of the season and dedicated the award to his father who passed away when he was only eight years old. He also thanked his mother who stood by him through his whole career.
Vermeulen was named SARU Rugby Player of the Year after an extensive voting process, which included the country’s rugby media and the public through SARU’s online and social media platforms.
The 28-year-old Vermeulen, who will captain the DHL Stormers this year, also won the coveted SARPA Players’ Player of the Year and Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year Awards for 2014.
“Duane has been outstanding in 2014 and these awards are just reward for the excellent form he showed last year, as one of the Springboks’ key performers and for the DHL Stormers,” said SARU President, Mr Oregan Hoskins.
Hot on Vermeulen’s heels, with two awards, was young Springbok flyhalf and Junior Springbok captain Handré Pollard.
Pollard, one of the five nominees for the main award, was named Absa Young Player and SA Under-20 Player of the Year after some stirring performances in his debut season for the Boks and during the Junior World Championship in New Zealand.
The outstanding Springbok Sevens and Women’s Players of the Year were Seabelo Senatla and Fundiswa Plaatjie, neither of whom could not attend the glittering ceremony at Vodacom World in Midrand because of their participation in two Sevens tournaments in New Zealand and Brazil this weekend.
Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje was named as scorer of the Supersport Try of the Year for 2014, voted for by their commentators, for his sublime solo-effort against the Crusaders in a highly-entertaining Vodacom Super Rugby Match in Bloemfontein.
DHL Western Province walked away with the award for Absa Team of the Year for their superb Absa Currie Cup Premier Division campaign, while the Golden Lions’ Johan Ackermann was named Absa Coach of the Year for the way in which he galvanised the team from Johannesburg to be a force to be reckoned with.
On the domestic competition scene, the winners in the various categories were Nizaam Carr of DHL Western Province (Absa Currie Cup Premier Division), Boela Abrahams of the Down Touch Griffons (Absa Currie Cup First Division), Renaldo Bothma of the Steval Pumas (Vodacom Cup), Michael Nienaber of Rustenburg Impala (Cell C Community Cup) and Curwin Bosch of Eastern Province (Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Year).
Mr Hoskins congratulated all the winners and applauded their achievements in 2014 on behalf of the South African Rugby Union.
“It was a good year for South African rugby and with the Rugby World Cup on the horizon, I think our rugby landscape looks very healthy,” said Mr Hoskins.
“Who will forget the Springboks’ epic victory over the All Blacks in Johannesburg, the Junior Springboks beating their Kiwi counterparts twice in the Junior World Championship in New Zealand and the Springbok Sevens’ golden moment at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland
“Those were just some of the magic moments from a season where the Cell C Sharks clinched a top two spot on the Vodacom Super Rugby log, DHL Western Province beat the Xerox Golden Lions in a brilliant Absa Currie Cup final and the Down Touch Griffons laid hands on silverware for the first time since 2008.
“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 2014 a season to remember.”
The winners and finalists (where applicable) in all the categories for 2014 are:
SARU Rugby Player of the Year: Duane Vermeulen
Finalists: Nizaam Carr, Marcell Coetzee, Willie le Roux, Handré Pollard
Absa Young Player of the Year: Handré Pollard
Finalists: Nizaam Carr, Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla, Jan Serfontein
SARPA Players’ Player of the Year: Duane Vermeulen (DHL Stormers, Springboks)
Springbok Sevens Player of the Year: Seabelo Senatla
Finalists: Branco du Preez, Frankie Horne
SA Under-20 Player of the Year: Handré Pollard
Finalists: Thomas du Toit, Jesse Kriel
Absa Team of the Year: DHL Western Province (Absa Currie Cup)
Finalists: Springboks, Junior Springboks, Springbok Sevens, Xerox Golden Lions (Absa Currie Cup)
Absa Coach of the Year: Johann Ackermann (Xerox Golden Lions)
Finalists: Allister Coetzee (DHL Stormers & Western Province), Neil Powell (Springbok Sevens)
Vodacom Super Rugby Player of Year: Duane Vermeulen (DHL Stormers)
Finalists: Marcell Coetzee (Cell C Sharks), Warren Whiteley (Emirates Lions)
Vodacom Cup Player of the Year: Renaldo Bothma (Steval Pumas)
Finalists: Jonathan Francke (GWK Griquas), Lizo Gqoboka (EP Kings)
Absa Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year: Nizaam Carr (DHL Western Province)
Finalists: Juan de Jongh (DHL Western Province), Jaco Kriel (Xerox Golden Lions)
Absa Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year: Boela Abrahams (Down Touch Griffons)
Finalists: Sylvian Mahuza (Leopards), Dillon Smit (Leopards)
Supersport Try of the Year: Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje (Toyota Cheetahs v Crusaders, Vodacom Super Rugby)
Finalists: Cornal Hendricks (Toyota Cheetahs v Blues, Vodacom Super Rugby), Nathan Nel (UCT v Pukke, Varsity Cup Final), Seabelo Senatla (DHL Western Province v Vodacom Blue Bulls, Absa Currie Cup), Juan de Jongh (DHL Western Province v Vodacom Blue Bulls, Absa Currie Cup) and Corné Fourie (Emirates Lions v Toyota Cheetahs, Vodacom Super Rugby)
Marriott Referee Award: Craig Joubert
Women’s Achiever of the Year: Fundiswa Plaatjie
Cell C Community Cup Player of the Tournament: Michael Nienaber (Rustenburg Impala)
Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Tournament: Curwin Bosch (Eastern Province)