Siya Kolisi is the SA Rugby Player of the Year for 2021, after the popular Springbok captain garnered the most votes for his performances during a tough season, while the exciting Aphelele Fassi underlined his great potential by winning the Young Player of the Year award.

The 30-year-old Kolisi edged out strong challenges from his national teammates Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Eben Etzebeth and Makazole Mapimpi to become the first Bok captain since Jean de Villiers in 2013 to win the top award.

Kolisi – who was named the MTN Springbok of the Castle Lager Lions Series last year and was the only Springbok to play in all 13 Tests in 2021 – led South Africa to a superb series victory over the British & Irish Lions in August and went on to captain the side under difficult circumstances in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, which culminated with a nail-biting win over the All Blacks.

Fassi made his Springbok debut in 2021 and although he featured in only two Tests – scoring superb tries on both occasions – he showed that he is one for the future playing with increased maturity at fullback and on the wing.

As a result of showing true grit while spending five months in various bio-secure bubbles in South Africa, Australia and the United Kingdom and delivering some outstanding performances – notably coming from 1-0 down to clinch the Castle Lager Lions Series – the Springboks were named Team of the Year for 2021.

In a brand-new category, Lusanda Dumke was named Springbok Women’s Player of the Year, while the Border captain also walked away with the award for Provincial Women’s Player of the Year after leading her side to the Women’s Premier Division title.

Ronald Brown capped a fine debut season for the Blitzboks as he was named Springbok Sevens Player of the Year at the SA Rugby Awards, while Henco van Wyk’s performances in the Under-20 International Series saw him walk away with the award for Junior Springbok Player of the Year.

Aimee Barrett-Theron capped a remarkable season by winning the OUTsurance Referee of the Year at the SA Rugby Awards for the second time after she also walked away with the accolade in 2019.

Another new award at the SA Rugby Awards, the Castle Lager Test Try of the Year – which was voted for by supporters on various digital platforms – went to Cheslin Kolbe for his superb and crucial try in the third Test against the British & Irish Lions in Cape Town.

The Vodacom Bulls’ second successive Carling Currie Cup title was reflected as Jake White was named Coach of the Year for the second year running, while their up-and-coming loose forward Elrigh Louw edged out teammate Johan Goosen and co-flanker Evan Roos in the race to Carling Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year.

The award for Carling Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year, which wasn’t contested in 2020, was won by Dylan Maart of the Boland Kavaliers, whose eight tries were the most in the competition last year.

Mr Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby, congratulated the winners of the SA Rugby Awards and applauded their achievements in 2021.

 

“Siya led from the front as the Springboks completed what was arguably their toughest season – for many reasons – in a very long time,” said Mr Alexander.

 

“Supported very well by Jacques Nienaber and his coaching team, as well as his teammates, Siya showed true leadership under challenging conditions, and he became better as the year progressed, which culminated with a spot in the World Rugby Dream Team for 2021, along with Makazole, Lukhanyo, Eben and Malcolm Marx.

“Aphelele is a star in the making and last year we saw glimpses of what he can do, which is why he fully deserves the award for Young Player of the Year, while Cheslin’s try-scoring exploits are well-documented and his excellent five-pointer in the final Test against the Lions was crucial in helping the Boks clinch the series.

“Lusanda, Ronald and Henco are all deserved winners after stellar performances as three of our other national teams kept the South African flag flying high around the world.

“I would like to congratulate Jake and the Vodacom Bulls on their season, as well as Elrigh, Dylan and Lusanda again for showing that our provincial game is as strong as ever, with the two Carling Currie Cup competitions as well as the Women’s Premier and First Divisions delivering superb rugby all season long.

“As we gear up for what promises to be a massive year ahead, I would like to congratulate every winner on their SA Rugby awards, but would also like to thank every player, coach, administrator, referee, sponsor and all other role players for making 2021 a season to remember.”

Issued by SA Rugby Communications

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All of former Blitzbok, Werner Kok’s Sevens jerseys have been stolen after bandits broke into a storage facility in Cape Town and robbed him of priceless artefacts on Wednesday 1 December.

Werner Kok beating an opponent and running with the balll
Credit – World Rugby twitter

The 28-year-old took to his Instagram Stories to confirm the news. In the short clip, a visibly upset Kok calls on residents of the Mother City to be on the lookout for someone selling the jerseys.

“It’s tough for me this video,” the Sevens star started. Ten angry face emojis placed just above him to emphasise his dismay….I really need your help. All my Springbok Sevens jerseys have been stolen in Cape Town.”

What’s missing?

It’s been confirmed that the storage facility is situated near the Canal Walk area and includes irreplaceable items. From personal milestones, like his 50th Sevens Series tournament, to memorabilia from his school days.

Most of the Jerseys have the number 5 on the back.

If anyone has information, either give Smile 90.4fm a call on 021 818 8904 – or send Werner Kok a DM.

It’s been a wonderful career thus far.

Kok made his debut for Blitsbokke in 2013 at the showpiece in London and won the Bronze medal with the side at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. After that, Kok made the move back to the 15-man version of the game in the same year. He signed with the Western Province and now ploughs his trade at the Sharks.

For more news that Cape Town needs to know now, click here.

Last week the Western Province did something quite amazing. They travelled to Durban to face the Sharks knowing they had to win to stay in the Currie Cup. However, the way things unfolded in Kimberley earlier that day threw a spanner in the works.

The last thing Province needed was the Pumas and Griquas, who were in the respective 4th and 3rd place on the log, playing out to a draw. That was unfortunately exactly what happened. The 13-13 result giving both sides 2-log points, which helped give the Pumas a four-point lead over WP on the Points table.

The Mpumalanga outfit also enjoyed a better point’s difference. That meant that Province needed to score four tries and win for the full five-point haul.

Nobody gave them chance. The Bulls were probably getting their visitors’ locker room ready for the Pumas. But, WP proved all the doubters wrong. Not only scoring the four tries need, but adding a fifth for good fun. The soon to be Lions wing, Edwill van der Merwe running in an intercept try in the 84th minute to put a nice bow on proceedings at Kings Park.

Western Province Rugby team, led by Ernst van Rhyn, getting ready for kickoff in the Cape Town Stadium
DHL Western Province Matchday Magazine
Can WP do it again?

There was an expectation that Western Province coach, John Dobson will call on his big guns to face the mighty Bulls. However, Dobson opted not to mess with a winning formula and made just two changes to the team.

After an impressive showing coming off the bench against the Sharks, Sazi Sandi gets promoted to the starting lineup. That move sees Neethling Fouche shift to the bench. The other change sees Springbok hooker, Scarra Ntubeni returning to the front row of the WP pack.

Former WP captain, Corne Krige believes that John Dobson should’ve beefed up his pack a bit more.

“It going to be a slugfest up front”, said Krige

“Clearly a more running game suits WP better, unfortunately against the Bulls, it’s going to be a different ball game.”

It is knockout rugby from here on out, and Krige proclaimed that WP will have to be perfect in the line-outs and scrums.

“It starts in the front. You have to make sure your set-pieces are bulletproof, and obviously, your tactical kicking must be very good because you want to keep them in their half”, said the former Springbok

“You don’t want them to get 5m from your line, because they probably are going to score through their forwards, through their driving maul.”

Krige, who played in the blue and white hooped jersey between ’96 and ’02, shared his views on tonight’s semifinal on The Honest Truth last night.

Listen:

 

Listen to Corné Krige tipping Evan Roos as a future Bok, here.

It’s been a rough couple of seasons for the UCT Ikeys, but they are back and just one step away from bagging their third FNB Varsity Cup title. UCT will first have to get past the Tukkies tonight in the FNB Varsity Cup final.

It could be their first since one incredible evening in Potchefstroom back in 2014. A final that will be remembered as one of the biggest botches in Rugby history.

An implausible victory.

The Northwest University found themselves on the verge of a maiden Varsity Cup title in their first appearance in the final since losing to the Maties 11-6 in 2009. Leading the Ikeys 33-15 with seven minutes left on the clock, Pukke were all but assured victory. Right?

Well, wrong. Ikeys scored twice in the space of five minutes. 33-28, 30 seconds on the clock. Enough time for one more attack.

And attack they did, throwing everything at the Pukke defence. But a knock-on with a second left on the clock saw Pukke poised to lift the trophy.

For some reason, instead of thumping the ball in touch, they ran the ball. Strange. Even more bizarre is the fact that Pukke fly-half, Adriaan Engelbrecht, attempted a drop-goal. The game was over. Time was up. They were in the lead. They had the ball!

The attempt at two points (penalties and drop-goals were only worth two points in the 2014 edition of the Varsity Cup) was subsequently charged down, which gave UCT one more chance to attack.

With a bit of magic and probably a whole lot of luck, Nathan Nel scored under the posts to leave the Fanie du Toit Sports Ground in Potchefstroom stunned, silent in disbelief. The UCT fan park back in Cape Town almost losing its roof.

Watch: Relive the final six minutes of this bonkers final.

Falling from grace.

Unfortunately, those type of moments for Ikeys fans were few and far between in the seasons that followed. Ikeys lost in the semifinals in 2015. In 2016, they couldn’t bag a single win. As a result, they ended that campaign in 8th place, on the verge of being relegated to the Varsity Shield competition.

2017 saw them again finish 8th, with just CUT Ixias below them after they failed to register a single win.

Ikeys did manage a 6th and 5th place finish in 2018 and ‘19 respectively, which was a bit of an improvement. but still, a lot left to be desired.

Poised for victory.

The forced gap year in 2020 seemed to have helped get the Ikeys back on the right path.

UCT ended this season’s round-robin stage atop the table for the first time since the inaugural tournament in 2008. They head into the final on the back of an impressive unbeaten run, recording comprehensive victories along the way. 22-40 vs Wits, 5-59 vs Shimlas, 76-5 vs CUT and 58-55 vs UWC.

The Ikeys will face tough opposition tonight, going up against the UP-Tuks at the Tuks stadium. They Kick-off at 19:00.

Rugby and technology will merge on Friday, that’s thanks to a partnership between the FNB Varsity Cup and Sportable. The latter working alongside Gilbert for the past five years to perfect the world’s first smart rugby ball.

The technology has managed to make its way onto the field in the past couple of years, enjoying trials successfully in England. The England national team, Leicester Tigers and Bath were the first to give the ball a go in training. As a result, it could move to tests in real match situations. Gilbert had the ball feature at a sevens type Rugby union tournament in the UK called Rugby X.

In the five years it has spent in development, it has been exposed to stringent testing. Gilbert’s engineers have been working around the clock to perfect the tech. A whole lot of effort, sweat and tears have gone into making sure that the tech inside the ball returns accurate data and doesn’t affect how the ball behaves on the field or in the air.

Watch: The Smart Ball put through the wringer.

Cutting edge competition.

The FNB Varsity Cup has always been at the forefront of innovation, acting as the so-called guinea pigs of countless law trials. This includes double referees, different try values and the Power Play rule in 2018, where a team could remove two backline players for three minutes.

An African first.

Friday’s playoff matches will see the Gilbert x Sportable Smart Ball used in Africa for the first time.

Fans can expect insightful statistics throughout SuperSport’s live broadcasts as well as awesome in-game graphics on the FNB Varsity Cup’s social media platforms.

With existing data capture technologies have hit their ceiling, ball tracking data creates a digital impression of the most meaningful on-field events. This digital blueprint is far more complex than the event data currently produced for rugby.

“We are incredibly excited about the opportunity to work with Varsity Cup and SuperSport to bring our solutions to fans and coaches in South Africa,” says Dugald Macdonald, Sportable founder and CEO. “Varsity Cup’s reputation for pioneering new developments in the game is second to none, so we view the introduction of the Smart Ball on Friday as just the start of a long, exciting partnership.”

What the tech does.

The device inside the Gilbert x Sportable Smart Ball tracks the following key events during a rugby match:

• Kicks in play
• Goal kicks
• Restart kicks
• Lineouts
• Passes
• Possession
• Territory
• Ruck speed

In future competitions, the Gilbert x Sportable Smart Ball will instantly detect and alert referees to forward passes.
The data metrics include:

• Distance
• Speed
• Trajectory
• Hang-time
• Spin rate
• Spiral efficiency
• Reload time (time from catching to passing)
• Start/end time
• Start/end coordinates
• Angle to posts
• Kick difficulty and success

Also read: Eric Tinkler returns to the Blue and Gold Army.