South Africa’s du Toit named World Rugby Player of the Year

TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 03: Pieter-Steph Du Toit of South Africa poses after being named the Men's 15s Player of the Year during the World Rugby Awards on November 03, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN – NOVEMBER 03: Pieter-Steph Du Toit of South Africa poses after being named the Men’s 15s Player of the Year during the World Rugby Awards on November 03, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

South Africa’s Pieter-Steph du Toit was on Sunday named the World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year at a ceremony at The Prince Park Tower in Tokyo, Japan.

Du Toit, a flanker, played a key role in the Springboks’ title winning-campaign at the just-concluded Rugby World Cup.

Du Toit finished the tournament as South Africa’s top tackler with 61 tackles and a success rate of 85%.

Du Toit became the third South African to win the award after Schalk Burger in 2004 and Bryan Habana in 2007.

“It’s never about the individual. It was about the team and that’s why we play rugby. We don’t play to win the individual awards. You always play for each other and you have got brothers and friendship you build over the last few years; I think that’s what makes the sport special,” Du Toit said after receiving his award.

It was a momentous night for South African rugby as the fraternity also led the way in other categories.

Rassie Erasmus was named World Rugby Coach of the Year after a successful year in which he guided the Springboks to the Rugby World Cup and the Rugby Championship. The Springboks, under Erasmus, suffered only one defeat in 2019, the loss to New Zealand in the Pool stage of the Rugby World Cup.

Erasmus will be stepping down as South Africa coach to return to his role as the country’s director of rugby.

“This has been a long journey to keep believing and trusting and not getting frustrated with each other, keeping the belief going,” Erasmus said.

The Springboks were also named World Rugby Team of the Year, an award which captain Siya Kolisi accepted on behalf of the side.

Former South Africa rugby international Os du Randt was also inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame as inductee #145.

Du Randt, who played as a loosehead prop, is a two-time World Cup winner after successful campaigns with the Springboks in 1995 and 2007.