Burger scoops Player of the Year honour
November 3, 2011
Burger claimed the award for the second time at the awards ceremony at Gold Reef City © Getty Images
Springboks flanker Schalk Burger was named the South African Player of the Year for the second time at the end of year awards ceremony in Johannesburg.
Burger was rewarded for an outstanding run of form that helped propel the Stormers into the Super Rugby play-offs before he returned from a thumb injury to be arguably the outstanding Springbok at the Rugby World Cup.
The 28-year-old edged out Springbok team-mates Bismarck du Plessis, Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie and Victor Matfield in a vote by South Africa's accredited rugby media to repeat his 2004 triumph. He becomes only the fifth player to win the title more than once, following in the footsteps of Naas Botha (who won it four times), Uli Schmidt, Bryan Habana and Fourie du Preez (who all won it twice).
The Golden Lions scooped three awards after beating The Sharks in the Currie Cup Final last weekend to win their first title since 1999. They were named Team of the Year, their coach, John Mitchell, is the Coach of the Year and their captain, Josh Strauss, was named Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year.
Lambie was named the Young Player of the Year, building on the fine impression he made in his debut season of 2010 and ending the year as the incumbent Springbok fullback. SA Under-20 captain Arno Botha is the SA Under-20 Player of the Year after some sterling performances at the Junior World Championships in Italy earlier this year.
Cecil Afrika, who was recently named the World Sevens Player of the Year after he topped both the top points and try scoring lists during the 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series, walked away with the award for Springbok Sevens Player of the Year.
The SARPA Players' Player of the Year Award went to Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis, while the Try of the Year was awarded to Springbok Sevens flyer Sibusiso Sithole for his tournament-winning score in the final of the Edinburgh Sevens against Australia.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) also paid tribute to two retiring Springboks legends. Both John Smit, who has already left South African to take up a contract with English club Saracens, and Victor Matfield played their last Test for the Boks in the quarter-finals at the Rugby World Cup.
There were also rewards for Cheetahs scrum-half Sarel Pretorius (Super Rugby Player of the Year), Boland Cavaliers fly-half Elgar Watts (Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year) and Western Province fly-half Lionel Cronje (Vodacom Cup Player of the Year).
Oregan Hoskins, President of SARU, said that the 2011 season was one of the more significant and satisfying seasons in recent years. "Onfield success of our national and provincial teams will always be of paramount importance, but I believe we have enjoyed a special year in the history of our rugby - perhaps a watershed year," said Hoskins.
"That's because our Springbok team has been embraced by all South Africans in a way I have never experienced before. 2011 was the year that fans from all backgrounds stood behind the Boks from the moment the squad was announced. In the past, that kind of affection was dependent on the delivery of a trophy."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton