Francois Hougaard’s spectacular score in South Africa’s win over New Zealand in the Rugby Championship has been named as the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) Try of the Year 2014. The Springbok scrum-half, who scored the first try of the match in Johannesburg in early October, becomes the third South African to win the award after Jaque Fourie in 2009 and Bryan Habana in 2012. Samoa’s Seilala Mapusua, former New Zealand wing Jeff Wilson, Ireland’s Alan Quinlan and Dan Parks of Scotland formed the panel of judges who opted for Hougaard’s effort ahead of the four others shortlisted, namely Jamie Roberts (Wales), Cornal Hendricks (South Africa), Magali Harvey (Canada) and Jonny May (England).
Hougaard brought the Ellis Park crowd to its feet when, in the 12th minute, he dived under the posts to finish off a move that had begun near South Africa’s own line and involved the entire backline. South Africa went on to win the match 27-25. World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said, “I’d like to congratulate Francois Hougaard on winning this award. It was a fantastic try. It started from deep within the Springboks’ own 22. There was wonderful elusive running, lightning passing, rapid recycling, a deft kick ahead, which was expertly gathered and then a well-timed run from Francois finished it off in style. It was a real team effort that demonstrated ambition, enterprise and no little skill against the number one side in the world. In short, it was a try that was truly deserving of this accolade. The competition was very stiff for this award with four other great tries in the running. It was particularly pleasing to see the best try of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 being shortlisted. Magali Harvey’s score was a real highlight of that tournament and I’d also like to congratulate Jamie Roberts, Cornal Hendricks and Jonny May for their contributions.”