South Africa’s 2017 Players’ Player of the Year Siya Kolisi and other rugby peers recognised at the inaugural BrightRock Players Choice Awards in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Siya Kolisi was named the 2017 Players’ Player of the Year, following in the footsteps of past rugby legends who received this much-prized accolade.
The other winners named on the night were: Malcom Marx as Defender of the Year; Rosko Specman as Backline Player of the Year; Siya Kolisi as Forward of the Year, Steven Kitshoff as Best off the Bench; and Makazole Mapimpi received the LoveChange Award for the player that has made great strides in his rugby career over the past year. These players were voted the winners by rugby players from the fourteen professional rugby unions in South Africa. Each winning player received R10 000 to pledge to the charity of his choice.
Francois Venter walked away with the Fans’ Choice Award, the only award voted for by the public, and R50 000 for his chosen charity. He teamed up with celebrity partner Bouwer Bosch to campaign for the award on the BrightRock PlayerChoice Awards Facebook Page. The R50 000 prize money that Venter won will be donated to Liefde Wen in aid of rugby development in rural Transkei.
The players were involved with the nomination and voting process for the seven award categories, and in shaping the vibrant and somewhat unconventional awards evening format. The event, the first-ever awards for professional rugby players by professional rugby players, was designed by the players themselves to precisely match their needs and wants when it comes to recognising excellence on the rugby field. Provider of needs-matched life insurance, BrightRock, and MyPlayers, the South African rugby players’ organisation, hosted the evening.
The awards evening was attended by players, celebrities and fans from all over the country. TV presenter and actress Boity Thulo and former Springbok Jean de Villiers acted as event MCs, and celebrity beatboxer, Morgan Beatbox, local band Rubber Duc and singer Yollandi Nortjie performed during the awards, which was broadcast live on Supersport. On stage to help hand over the awards were well-heeled celebrities including Sky Tshabalala, Bouwer Bosch, Eloise Cupido and cast members from Getroud met Rugby.
The evening took a surprise turn in the form of hidden talent displays by the players, where Puma Hugo Kloppers impressed with his singing and guitar skills, and Dillyn Leyds, Teboho Mohoje and Trevor Nyakane also wowed the audience with a dance number. There was even a “Dub Smash” number featuring some of South Africa’s most loved rugby players singing along to popular tunes.
But it wasn’t just the players, performers and presenters who got to shine at the awards. In a heart-warming gesture, the Springbok player group of 2017 donated R50 000 OUT OF / FROM THE PLAYERS’ COLLECTIVE INCOME IN support OF Lifa Hlongwa, who sustained serious damage to his spinal cord while playing for the Northwood Crusaders in a match against Amanzimtoti in August. The funds were donated to the Lifa Hlongwa #OneStepAtATime crowdfunding campaign, which was started by the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players Fund.
Elma Smit, marketing manager for MyPlayers, commented: “At MyPlayers we’re very passionate about creating more opportunities like these. For players to give back to causes close to their hearts, to get to know fans better and to celebrate the excellence of their peers. The organisation, owned collectively by South Africa’s professional rugby players, enables rugby players to do what they do best, while we take care of their collective needs and interests behind the scenes. We would like to congratulate Siya on this highest of honours, as far as we are concerned. Siya was also recently also selected by the directors of MyPlayers to serve on the board from 2018.”
BrightRock executive director Suzanne Stevens, echoed Smit’s congratulations, and added that the evening tied in with BrightRock’s unique needs-matched insurance offering. “We’re excited to have partnered with MyPlayers and the players themselves, helping them craft a needs-matched awards event where they got to decide about every aspect – from the awards categories to the winners, to the format of the event – even the entertainment. This is very much aligned with BrightRock’s philosophy, which enables every client to precisely design their own life insurance solution that matches their specific individual needs, and in the process extract better value for money – in effect putting change back in our clients’ pockets. Now that’s the kind of change we love!”
The BrightRock Players Choice Awards Categories
All nominations were compiled by the MyPlayers Board, their Trustees and player representatives and the winners of each category (except the Fans’ Choice category) were selected by the players.
Winners & Runners up
Defender of the year
Winner: Malcolm Marx
Runners up: Jean-Luc du Preez, Siya Kolisi, Philip Snyman
Forward Player of the year
Runners up: Chris Dry, Franco Mostert, Warren Whiteley
Backline Player of the year
Runners up: Ross Cronje, Dillyn Leyds, Mathrin Simmers
Best off the bench
Winner: Steven Kitshoff
Runners up: Faf de Klerk, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Akker van der Merwe
The #LoveChange Award – for the most-improved player over the past year – a true change agent on his way up
Winner: Makazole Mapimpi
Runners up: Lionel Cronje, Sbu Nkosi, Jan Serfontein
The Fans’ Choice Award – as voted by the fans
Winner: Francois Venter
Runners up: Siya Kolisi, Seabelo Senatla, Curwin Bosch, Courtnall Skosan
The Players’ Player of the Year – the flagship award of the evening for the player selected as the best player of the year, as chosen by his peers
Winner: Siya Kolisi
Runners up: Makazole Mapimpi, Rosko Specman, Warren Whiteley
˟The runners up in each category are listed in no particular order
MyPlayers is the official organisation of the professional rugby players in South Africa. The organisation is 100% owned by the players and they play a key leadership role in determining the general strategy and vision.
The organisation currently represents all the professional rugby players in South Africa, providing player-driven solutions to improve the lives of their members. This varies from support with managing their rights, finding suitable medical cover, all the way to assisting with their career development.
Visit the MyPlayers website at www.myplayers.co.za and follow their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/myplayers.
BrightRock was started with the goal of creating insurance products that truly meet consumers’ and financial advisers’ needs. The company launched its unique needs-matched life insurance offering in 2012 and is rapidly establishing itself as one of the fastest-growing players in the intermediated individual life market in South Africa. It offers individualised, needs-matched life insurance cover that’s built around your specific needs at the outset, and is specially designed to change with you as your needs change. And because BrightRock’s cover is flexible and changes appropriately when your needs change, it’s more efficient. This means both your cover and your premiums remain relevant, and more affordable, throughout your life. BrightRock Life Ltd is an authorised financial services provider and registered insurer. Company registration no: 1996/014618/06, FSP 11463. Terms and conditions apply.