Lood De Jager Is SA Rugby Player Of 2015

A host of the stars from 2015 will be let loose in Super Rugby this weekend, chief amongst them Springbok lock Lood De Jager, who was on Thursday evening named the SA Rugby Player of the Year for last season, acknowledging his stellar performances in the green and gold during a tough international season.  Other winners who will feature this weekend include the Bulls duo of Jesse Kriel and Warrick Gelant, as well as Jaco Kriel of the Lions.  The 23-year-old De Jager is the youngest winner of the most prestigious award in South African rugby since Bryan Habana walked away with the spoils in 2005, aged 22.

The Cheetahs lock edged out fellow nominees for the top award, Damian De Allende, Eben Etzebeth, Schalk Burger and Jaco Kriel.  Jaco Kriel, however, was rewarded for a sublime season by walking away with two accolades – the prestigious Players’ Player of the Year Award, presented by MyPlayers, and the Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year Award, after he led the Golden Lions to the crown.  The Golden Lions were deservedly named the Team of the Year, while Johan Ackermann walked away with the Coach of the Year award for the second consecutive season, capping a fine 2015 for the Johannesburg-based union.  De Allende, who just lost out to De Jager for the top award following an extensive voting process from the media and public, was named the Super Rugby Player of the Year after delivering consistently strong performances for the Stormers.

Jesse Kriel, who partnered De Allende in a potent midfield combination in the latter stages of the Rugby World Cup, was named Young Player of the Year, while Gelant, one of the Junior Springboks’ stars last season, walked away with spoils as SA Under-20 Player of the Year.  Werner Kok, World Rugby’s Sevens Player of the Year, was a unanimous decision as Springbok Sevens Player of the Year, with Veroeshka Grain earning the Women’s Achiever Award and Rasta Rasivhenge winning the Referee Award.  The other award winners were Marnus Schoeman of the Pumas (Vodacom Cup Player of the Year), Leopards fullback Rhyno Smith (Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year), Johan Deysel of NWU-Pukke (Try of the Year), Ernst Van Rhyn of Western Province (Craven Week Player of the Year) and Leon du Plessis of Rustenburg Impala (Club Player of the Year).


De Jager thanked his family, friends, coaches and team-mates for their support and says he hopes to make them proud again this year:  ‘Personally, I had an unbelievable year with the Springboks, although it was a bit up and down for the team.  But a lot of younger players gained invaluable experience and this bodes well for the future of the South African game, we just have to now go out and use it in 2016.  I’m excited for a big season ahead, with a lot of challenges, and I’m sure we can all make a difference this year.’

The winners and finalists (where applicable) in all the categories for 2015 are:

SARU Rugby Player of the Year: Lood De Jager
Nominees: Schalk Burger, Damian De Allende, Eben Etzebeth, Jaco Kriel

Young Player of the Year: Jesse Kriel
Nominees: Lood De Jager, Warrick Gelant, Handré Pollard, Seabelo Senatla

Players’ Player of the Year presented by MyPlayers: Jaco Kriel

SA Sevens Player of the Year: Werner Kok
Nominees: Seabelo Senatla, Kwagga Smith

SA Under-20 Player of the Year: Warrick Gelant
Nominees: Jason Jenkins, Hanro Liebenberg

Team of the Year: Golden Lions (Currie Cup)
Nominees: Springboks, Springbok Sevens, Stormers (Super Rugby), Western Province (Currie Cup)

Coach of the Year: Johann Ackermann (Golden Lions)
Nominees: Robert Du Preez (NWU-Pukke, Leopards), Neil Powell (Springbok Sevens)

Super Rugby Player of Year: Damian De Allende (Stormers)
Nominees: Jaco Kriel (Lions), Warren Whiteley (Lions)

Vodacom Cup Player of the Year: Marnus Schoeman (Pumas)
Nominees: Wiaan Liebenberg (Blue Bulls), JC Roos (Pumas)

Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year: Jaco Kriel (Golden Lions)
Nominees: Warrick Gelant (Blue Bulls), Warren Whiteley (Golden Lions)

Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year: Rhyno Smith (Leopards)
Nominees: Leighton Eksteen (SWD Eagles), Juan Language (Leopards)

Try of the Year: Johan Deysel (NWU-Pukke v Shimas, Varsity Cup Final)
Nominees: Faf De Klerk (Lions v Vodacom Bulls, Super Rugby), Jesse Kriel (Springboks v Australia, Rugby Championship), Dillon Smit (Varsity Cup Dream Team v SA Under-20), Rhyno Smith (Varsity Cup Dream Team v SA Under-20)

Craven Week Player of the Year: Ernst Van Rhyn (WP)

Referee Award: Rasta Rasivhenge

Women’s Achiever Award: Veroeshka Grain

Club Player of the Year: Leon Du Plessis (Rustenburg Impala)