Aphiwe Dyantyi’s rise to rugby stardom in 2018 reached its peak on Sunday night after the Springbok winger was named World Rugby’s breakthrough player-of-the-year.
The 24-year-old was recognised for a particularly blistering start to his international career as well as a solid Rugby Championship campaign.
Reaction from Aphiwe Dyantyi after he won the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year 2018 award in Association with Tudor pic.twitter.com/c8br9asHJL
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) November 25, 2018
“He marked his Springbok debut with a try against England in June and hasn’t looked back, starting all 13 of South Africa’s tests in 2018 and scoring six tries, including braces against Argentina and in the win over world champions New Zealand in Wellington,” the governing body said in a statement motivating its decision.
“Blessed with pace and power, the 24-year-old was the joint top try-scorer in the Rugby Championship with five as South Africa finished as runners-up.”
Critics will suggest Dyantyi didn’t have a particularly prosperous year-end tour, having to cope with limited scoring opportunities and also struggling to get his accuracy on defence right.
However, the Lions star will view it as a steep learning curve.
Ireland swept the board in the other major awards, with experienced flyhalf Jonny Sexton notably beating the Bok duo of Malcolm Marx and Faf de Klerk to the player-of-the-year award.