Three Varsity Cup players and back-to-back champions, the Maties, walked off with some coveted gongs at the annual Western Province Rugby Awards held in Cape Town on Tuesday evening.
Maties centre Juan de Jongh – who is set to become the first-ever Varsity Cup-produced Springbok later this week – and UCT youngsters Martin Muller and Tim Whitehead were all honoured by Western Province.
WP Currie Cup ace De Jongh walked off with the Most promising Junior in the Senior Ranks Award, whilst the Ikeys pair of lock Muller (Forward of the Year) and centre Whitehead (Back of the Year) were voted as the best Under-21 players in the Cape.
Twenty-one-year-old De Jongh was also nominated for two coveted SA Rugby Awards and he could even add to an already memorable year by perhaps winning a Test cap on the Springbok tour of Europe later this month.
This, of course, comes just over a year after De Jongh had started in the first-ever Varsity Cup Final – for the title-winning Maties against UCT in Stellenbosch.
Muller, meanwhile, made his Currie Cup and Super 14 debuts this year, as well as playing against the touring British & Irish Lions for WP.
Whitehead shrugged off some early-season injuries, which saw him miss the Varsity Cup and the Vodacom Cup, to star for the WP Under-21s and also earn his SA Universities stripes against a touring American side.
In other news, the Maties scooped the Bella Roma Shield – an award given by the WP Referee’s Society to a Club for outstanding discipline and sportsmanship.
The Men in Maroon might have given up their WP Super League title to Hamilton’s (and thereby their place at the annual National Club Champs), but they still successfully defended their FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International title – against Pukke – earlier this year.