Hougaard gets my vote …

So tonight is awards night for SA Rugby … with a slightly different hue this year – as Sport24 columnist JJ Harmse points out – given that this normally happens on the eve of the Bok’s end of year tour …

Instead it comes after a disappointing World Cup defence, at the end of a truly tumultuous four years with the woefully under skilled Peter de Villiers at the helm, the Boks at number 4 in the world rankings, and with no Bok tour to look forward to …

It does give SARU a platform to say a fitting farewell to Springbok legends Victor Matfield and John Smit though – although I cannot see the latter flying out for the event, having just arrived at Saracens. Not having been invited to the event (and this is where SARU are so very different to Cricket SA, who seem to embrace the media being at their awards function), I am afraid I will not be able to report on the ex skipper’s presence or lack thereof…

In the same column, JJ is at pains to point out that Matfield’s time has come, and having been nominated for the main award so many times, he now deserves it. Bullshit. Awards are not meant to be shared out – That just demeans the award. It is an award for the player of the specific year. Matfield deserves every accolade that comes his way – and I agree Smit in his assertion that the giant Bulls lock is the best Bok to have walked the earth – but he has not been the best player in a Springbok jersey this year.

Nope, to my mind, one of his fellow nominees (and to be fair to SARU, these were decided by the media) – Schalk Burger, Bismarck du Plessis, Francois Hougaard, and Pat Lambie – should take the big award of the evening.

Burger will probably get it, otherwise the coach and selectors will be made to look pretty silly by naming a player not picked regularly in the starting XV, but to my mind it should be a close scrap between Hougaard and Du Plessis, with the scrumhalf/wing shading it.

Both players changed the course of games every time they got onto the field, but Hougaard did that slightly more often, and in two very different positions. Hougaard (and Du Plessis for that matter) would have been an obvious starter in my book, and is one of the more exciting things to happen to South African rugby in a very long time.

Below are the nominees are (in alphabetical order), with my pick of the bunch in bold:

SARU Rugby Player of the Year:

1. Schalk Burger
2. Bismarck du Plessis
3. Francois Hougaard
4. Pat Lambie
5. Victor Matfield

Young Player of the Year:

1. Johan Goosen
2. Francois Hougaard
3. Elton Jantjies
4. Pat Lambie
5. Jaco Taute

Team of the Year:

1. Boland
2. Golden Lions
3. Springbok Sevens
4. Stormers
5. University of Cape Town

Coach of the Year:

1. Allister Coetzee (Stormers and Western Province)
2. Eugene Eloff (Boland)
3. John Mitchell (Lions and Golden Lions)
4. John Plumtree (The Sharks)
5. Paul Treu (Springbok Sevens)

Super Rugby Player of the Year:

1. Gio Aplon
2. Schalk Burger
3. Bismarck du Plessis
4. Sarel Pretorius
5. Duane Vermeulen

Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year:

1. Johan Goosen
2. Elton Jantjies
3. Frederic Michalak
4. Josh Strauss
5. Jaco Taute

Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year:

1. Bolla Conradie
2. Danwel Demas
3. Willie le Roux
4. Luke Watson
5. Elgar Watts

With Hougaard taking the main award, he then obviously has to take the young player award as well, which is harsh on Johan Goosen, who has been a true revelation this year, and will don the Green and Gold for years to come should he stay injury free. In turn, Elton Janties is incredibly unlucky to lose out to Goosen as the Currie Cup player of the year. Jantjies “Arrived” this year. Duane Vermeulen, so inspirational for the Stormers this year, is the man unlucky to lose out in the Super Rugby award, and Boland would be the team unlucky to miss out in that award. The Ikeys, in taking the Varsity Cup and WP league title for the first time since 1974, get my vote.


So to the little red, white or pink ball we turn while slow cooking ourselves on the SA beaches …. But below a few fixtures to keep that light at the end of the cricket tunnel flickering:

Saturday, November 26 2011

16:30 – Barbarians vs Australia (Twickenham)

Saturday, December 03 2011

16:30 – Wales vs Australia (Millennium Stadium)

Monday, January 30 2012

Varsity Shield:
17:00 – CUT vs Wits
19:00 – UFH vs UWC

Thursday, February 02 2012

Varsity Shield:
19:00 – Wits vs UFH
19:00 – UKZN vs CUT

Monday, February 06 2012

Varsity Cup:
17:00 – Tuks s UJ
19:00 – NMMU vs Pukke
19:00 – UCT vs Shimlas
19:00 – Maties vs TUT

Varsity Young Guns:
17:00 – UCT vs Shimlas
17:00 – NMMU vs Pukke

Varsity Shield:
19:00 – Wits vs UWC
19:00 – UFH vs UKZN


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