South African Siya Kolisi has been named the UK Rugby Union Writers’ Club personality of the year for 2019, during the RUWC’s annual dinner in London.
The Springboks’ captain was recognised with the annual Pat Marshall Memorial Award having led South Africa to their emotional World Cup triumph in Japan.
Since becoming South Africa’s first black test captain in 2018, Kolisi has helped transform the side to win last year’s Rugby Championship and then their third World Cup when they overwhelmed England 32-12 in the Yokohama final.
He won the hearts of many basically his performances on the pitch in Japan and his grace off it, particularly following the triumph when he talked so emotionally and eloquently of his remarkable journey to the game’s summit after being raised in poverty by his grandmother in a township outside Port Elizabeth.
The shortlist for the 2019 award, named after the former Daily Express rugby correspondent, was dominated by South Africa, with coach Rassie Erasmus and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk also nominated, along with Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones and Japan skipper Michael Leitch.
Kolisi succeeds Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton as winner of the award and follows in the footsteps of greats like the inaugural recipient, Welshman Mervyn Davies in 1976, Jonah Lomu, Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson, Dan Carter and another Springbok captain, Francois Pienaar.
The Special Award was received in recognition of his service to the game by Former Scotland captain Tom Smith.