Mr Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby, congratulated Springbok Sevens playmaker Ricardo Duarttee, who was named as the Rookie of the Year at the annual HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series awards in London on Sunday evening.
The winners in the men’s categories were announced at Twickenham as the 2023 World Series came to a close after 11 tournaments.
The awards recognise and celebrate the players and teams who have performed at the highest level across the season and produced the most memorable moments that thrilled and inspired fans around the globe.
The 25-year-old Duarttee, who made his Blitzbok debut in Dubai where South Africa won the tournament late last year, beat fellow nominees Theo Forner (France) and Joaquin Pellandini (Argentina) to the award for the player who has made their World Series debut in the current season and delivered an outstanding performance.
What a year they have had ??
???? Ricardo Duarttee
???? Theo Forner
???? Joaquin Pellandini
But who will come away as the Men's Rookie of the Year this weekend at the #HSBC7sAwards? pic.twitter.com/MNBkMt5Kh6— World Rugby 7s (@WorldRugby7s) May 15, 2023
Duarttee played in a total of 52 matches, scoring 15 tries, 67 conversions and one penalty for an incredible 212 points in his debut season.
“It was a tough season for the Blitzboks, with many injuries and disruptions, but the emergence of new players was good for the depth of the squad and Ricardo was one of those who was given an opportunity and grabbed it with both hands,” said Mr Alexander.
“He epitomised what the Blitzboks stand for with his passionate approach to the game and his ‘never-give-up’ attitude. Like his teammates, Ricardo often had to fight with his back to the wall, and although the results were not always what we wanted to see, we know they always gave 100 per cent.
“We are very proud of Ricardo for winning this award and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for him and the Blitzboks and we know they will do everything in their power to get back to their previous highs.”
THE 2023 AWARD WINNERS ARE:
Rookie of the Year: Ricardo Duarttee (South Africa)
Gilbert Top Try-scorer: Vaa Apelu Maliko (Samoa)
Try of the Series: Rodrigo Isgro (Argentina) v Samoa in Los Angeles
DHL Impact Player: Vaa Apelu Maliko (Samoa)
Fair Play Award: Japan
Capgemini #Hotstepper Award: Akuila Rokolisoa (NZL) and Roderick Solo (NZL)
HSBC Dream Team: Rodrigo Isgro (Argentina), Leroy Carter (New Zealand), Marcos Moneta (Argentina), Akuila Rokolisoa (New Zealand), Vaa Apelu Maliko (Samoa), Luciano Gonzalez (Argentina), Henry Paterson (Australia).