Cape Town - NWU-Pukke fullback Rhyno Smith has been crowned the overall Player that Rocks for the 2015 Varsity Cup.
The award is a fitting reward for a player whose blistering speed, devastating side step and phenomenal kicking accuracy saw him stand head and shoulders above his competitors in a highly successful season with Pukke.
NMMU-Madibaz' dynamic flank CJ Velleman and UP-Tuks' powerful captain Wiaan Liebenberg finished runners-up for the main award.
Velleman was a stand-out player for the Port Elizabeth students with consistent performances, often showing the perfect balance to brute force and clever positional play to find himself at the centre of the Madibaz' campaign. Liebenberg was once again had a mammoth season in both defence and attack. His huge tackles and presence on the field was something to behold as he guided the Pretoria side to the top of the log standings.
Shimlas’ AJ Coertzen claimed the Back that Rocks award ahead of Smith and UCT-Ikeys' Lihleli Xoli.
Coertzen guided Shimlas to a fairytale campaign after they finished the campaign unbeaten. His elusive running and deadly-accurate boot made him one of the stand-out performers in the Bloemfontein side’s successful season.
Xoli was a stalwart and heartbeat of the Ikeys midfield and would keep the opposition defence on their toes with some impressive handling skills and quick bursts of pace.
The Forward that Rocks award went to Ikeys flank Jason Klaasen ahead of Maties' Beyers de Villiers and Velleman.
Klaasen was one of the most hard-working forwards in the competition and scored tries with regularity as he helped the defending champions to a semi-final berth.
De Villiers gave a good account of himself in what was an under-par performance by the Stellenbosch students as the three-time champions fell agonisingly short of reaching the knockout phase of the competition.
VARSITY CUP DREAM TEAM
The Varsity Cup Dream Team squad has also been announced, with Pukke dominating the starting line-up with six selections and two players on the bench. UP-Tuks are not far behind though as they picked up four selections and a further three players on the bench.
Shimlas will be represented by two players in the starting XV and another two players on the bench with both Ikeys and Maties grabbing a selection each.
Varsity Shield player Innocent Radebe of FNB UKZN-Impi was rewarded for his excellent form throughout the campaign with a starting place in the Dream Team.
The team was selected by the convenor of Springbok selectors Peter Jooste, Springbok backline coach Ricardo Loubscher, Springbok Performance Analyst Chean Roux and South Africa's Under-20 coach Dawie Theron. Two veteran rugby journalists, JJ Harmse and Vata Ngobeni, offered their input to ensure the cream of the crop from this year's Varsity Cup and Shield competitions made the cut.
The Varsity Cup Dream Team is due to play the Junior Springboks later this month.
Player that Rocks: Rhyno Smith (NWU-Pukke)
Back that Rocks: AJ Coertzen (UFS-Shimlas)
Forward that Rocks: Jason Klaasen (UCT-Ikeys)
Varsity Cup Dream Team: 15 Rhyno Smith (NWU-Pukke), 14 Maphutha Dolo (UFS-Shimlas), 13 Rowayne Beukman (NWU-Pukke), 12 Daniel Kriel (UP-Tuks), 11 Jean-Paul Lewis (Maties), 10 Innocent Radebe (UKZN-Impi), 9 Dillon Smit (NWU-Pukke), 8 Jeandre Rudolph (NWU-Pukke), 7 Henco Venter (UFS-Shimlas), 6 Wiaan Liebenberg (UP-Tuks), 5 Reniel Hugo (captain) (UP-Tuks), 4 Irne Herbst (UP-Tuks), 3 John-Roy Jenkinson (NWU-Pukke), 2 Chad Solomon (UCT-Ikeys), 1 Johan Smit (NWU-Pukke).
Substitutes: 16 Nqobisizwe Mxoli (UP-Tuks), 17 Jaco Visagie (UP-Tuks), 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen (UP-Tuks), 19 Walt Steenkamp (NWU-Pukke), 20 Gerhard Olivier (UFS-Shimlas), 21 Mthokozisi Mkhabela (UFS-Shimlas), 22 Johnny Welthagen (NWU-Pukke)