Springbok star Cheslin Kolbe voted as the best rugby player in France
CAPE TOWN – If he hadn’t been a proud South African, Cheslin Kolbe may have been given the freedom of France by now.
Kolbe was once again recognised for his outstanding displays in 2019 for club and country on Monday night in Paris, when he was chosen as the best player in the French Top 14 for the 2018/19 season.
The former Stormers star joined Stade Toulousain in 2017, and hasn’t looked back. It is on the basis of his performances in French club rugby that Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus handed him his Test debut against Australia last year.
Kolbe played a big part in Toulouse winning the French Top 14 title last season – scoring six tries in 16 matches – and put himself on the global map with his stunning try in the Rugby World Cup final against England in Yokohama earlier this month.
Apart from the Player of the Year award, Kolbe was also chosen as the best Top 14 Player at the World Cup, as well as the Try of the Season for an incredible team touchdown against Pau in May.
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3 awards lastnight- They said you couldn't, so you did! Amen! Amen! Amen! 3 Championship titles in 1 year too. May God continue to bless you and protect you from the dangers of this world. Congratulations our champ! In awe of God's work in your life. He's not finished yet! 🙏 Ephesians 1:3 #youarecovered
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Just last week, Kolbe was honoured in France by sports publication Midi Olympique, in what is dubbed as the ‘Oscars’ of French rugby, with the World Player of the Year award.
Afterwards, the 26-year-old told Midi Olympique that “everything that happens to me is totally crazy”, having enjoyed an unbelievable 2019 where he was part of teams that won the Top 14, Rugby Championship and Rugby World Cup titles.
“I couldn’t have done this without my teammates at the club at Stade Toulousain and with my country. It shows that things can always evolve,” said Kolbe, who has scored eight tries in 14 Tests.
“Since the beginning of my professional career, I have heard so many times that I was too small, too light, that I could not go further...
“I had the opportunity to prove that these people had wrong. Weight and size are nothing next to what you can accomplish with your determination.
“Just winning the World Cup has just made it so much sweeter, and it’s just brought so much hope and delightfulness to us as a team and as a country, because we face a lot of things back in South Africa.
“Winning the World Cup is something that we can take back home to South Africa, and just show the whole country – this is for them, and not just for us as players.”
The next major goal for Kolbe at Toulouse is to win the European equivalent of Super Rugby, the Champions Cup.
For his country, Kolbe wants to hold a different kind of medal in his hands in 2020, to go with his World Cup winners’ gong in Japan – Olympic gold with the Blitzboks in Tokyo.@ashfakmohamed