Cape Town - South Africa’s Seabelo Senatla has been named World Rugby’s men’s Sevens Player of the Year.
This was announced at World Rugby’s awards in London on Sunday night.
A try-scoring machine on the World Rugby Sevens Series, the South African flyer crossed for 66 tries in 10 events in the 2015-16 series - the second-highest in the 17-year history of the series -and four at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
With pace to burn and lightning-quick feet, the sight of the 23-year-old’s back was a familiar one for many a team on the world stage as he sniffed out a gap and raced away for try after try.
Other nominees for the award were Fiji’s Osea Kolinisau and Frenchman Virimi Vakatawa.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Rasta Rasivhenge shared the World Rugby Referee Award with Alhambra Nievas of Spain.
The duo had the honour of refereeing the men’s and women’s Olympic gold medal matches in Rio to bring the curtain down on impressive seasons on the World Rugby Sevens Series match official panels.
Nievas, nominated for the second year running and one of the leading women’s referees in 15s rugby, also took charge of three cup finals on the series in Sao Paulo, Langford and Clermont-Ferrand, while Rasivhenge officiated on both the men’s and women’s series, taking charge of the men’s finals in Sydney and Las Vegas.
Other nominees were South Africa’s Jaco Peyper and Frenchman Jerome Garces.
The third South African to bag an award on the evening was former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, who claimed the IRPA Special Merit Award.
A veteran of 109 Tests for South Africa, De Villiers brought the curtain down on his 13-year international career after breaking his jaw at Rugby World Cup 2015.
The inspirational centre, a Rugby World Cup winner in 2007, captained his country on 37 occasions and scored 27 tries for the Springboks with former coach Heyneke Meyer labelling him “one of the greatest Springboks ever”.
World Rugby awards for 2016 announced in London on Sunday:
Men's Player of the Year - Beauden Barrett (NZL)
Women's Player of the Year - Sarah Hunter (ENG)
Team of the Year - New Zealand
Coach of the Year - Steve Hansen (NZL)
Breakthrough Player of the Year - Maro Itoje (ENG)
Men's Sevens Player of the Year - Seabelo Senatla (RSA)
Women's Sevens Player of the Year - Charlotte Caslick (AUS)
Referee Award - Alhambra Nievas (ESP) and Rasta Rasivhenge (RSA)
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service - Syd Millar
Award for Character - Rugby Opens Borders, Austrian Rugby Union IRPA Special Merit Award - Jean de Villiers (RSA)
IRPA Try of the Year - Jamie Heaslip (IRL) against Italy in the Six Nations
Olympic recognition - Fiji and Australia