8 May 2014
Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown was one of four players nominated for the coveted 2014 IRB Sevens Player of the Year Award, the International Rugby Board announced on Wednesday.
With Brown leading, the Blitzbokke began the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series with a fourth place finish in Australia before reaching five successive finals, winning two of them. Those results took them to the top of the standings.
Unfortunately, he suffered a serious concussion in South Africa’s very first match in the Hong Kong Sevens and since then the Blitzbokke’s fortunes, in his absence, have dived.
They failed to make the Cup semi-finals for the first time this season in Hong Kong, having to settle for victory in the Plate final. Then, this past weekend, they suffered their worst result of the season, losing in the semi-finals of the Plate. Coincidental or not, it is noteworthy that in Brown’s absence the Springbok Sevens team’s performances have fallen off dramatically.
Brown is joined on the shortlist by an Englishman, a Fijian, and a New Zealander.
Ahead of the final round of the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series in London this coming weekend, Brown (South Africa), Tim Mikkelson (New Zealand), Tom Mitchell (England) and Samisoni Viriviri (Fiji) were named as the nominees for the prestigious honour.
Their nominations came from the management teams of the 15 core sides who compete at all nine rounds of the World Series.
The winner will be announced at a function following the final round of the Series, the Marriott London Sevens at Twickenham on 10-11 May.
The IRB nominations read as follows:
Kyle Brown, SA – As captain of South Africa, Brown has led the Springbok Sevens to Cup wins in Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas this season, and six top-four finishes. A flanker in the 15-man game, Brown’s versatility and strength allows him to play hooker in Sevens, a position he has made his own, and he is a fine ambassador for the game.
Tim Mikkelson, NZ – The reigning IRB Sevens Player of the year, Mikkelson makes the shortlist on the back of another supremely consistent season for champions elect, New Zealand. Able to play in the forwards and across the backline, Mikkelson’s fitness levels make him one of the best support players in the game and he is second only to Viriviri in the try-scoring charts.
Tom Mitchell, ENG – Handed the England captaincy by new coach Simon Amor, Mitchell has led by example and inspired his side to six top-four finishes so far. His restarts are key to England’s ball-winning capabilities and he is also the season’s top point-scorer with 310.
Samisoni Viriviri, FIJ – In the mould of all the greatest Fijian flyers, Samisoni Viriviri has electric pace and a sharp eye for the line. His clinical finishing has helped Fiji to wins in Dubai and Tokyo and he scores at the rate of one try per game, with 48 so far this season.
IRB Chairman, Bernard Lapasset, said in a statement: “These four players have performed supremely this season and to be nominated by the teams you have played against is the highest accolade you can receive as a player.
“This shows just how significant their individual contributions have been for their teams and I would like to thank them and all the rest of the players for their dedication this season, and for making the HSBC Sevens World Series such a huge success.”
The men’s Sevens is the first IRB Award to be announced in 2014.
IRB Sevens Player of the Year – Roll of honour
- 2013: Tim Mikkelson, New Zealand
- 2012: Tomasi Cama, New Zealand
- 2011: Cecil Afrika, South Africa
- 2010: Mikaele Pesamino, Samoa
- 2009: Ollie Phillips, England
- 2008: DJ Forbes, New Zealand
- 2007: Afeleke Pelenise, New Zealand
- 2006: Uale Mai, Samoa
- 2005: Orene Ai’i, New Zealand
- 2004: Simon Amor, England