Cape Town - Springbok and Cheetahs centre Francois Venter walked away with the the Fans’ Choice Award at the inaugural BrightRock Players Choice Awards in Johannesburg earlier this week.
While Springbok and Stormers flank Siya Kolisi was named the 2017 Players’ Player of the Year, Venter scooped the only award voted for by the public, and R50 000 for his chosen charity.
The R50 000 prize money that Venter won will be donated to Liefde Wen in aid of rugby development in rural Transkei.
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, while 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.
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.
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.
BrightRock executive director, Suzanne Stevens, added: “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”.
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.
Defender of the Year
Winner: Malcolm Marx
Runners up: Jean-Luc du Preez, Siya Kolisi, Philip Snyman
Forward Player of the Year
Winner: Siya Kolisi
Runners up: Chris Dry, Franco Mostert, Warren Whiteley
Backline Player of the Year
Winner: Rosko Specman
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
Note: The runners up in each category are listed in no particular order