“I couldn’t have done this without my teammates at the club at Stade Toulousain and with my country. To get this award, it’s really special”
Cheslin Kolbe set the Rugby World Cup final alight with a thrilling solo try, and now his exploits for club and country has been recognised with an award in France.
The Springbok right wing received the World Player of the Year title at the French rugby “Oscars”, the Midi Olympique #OscarsMidol awards, which took place in Paris on Monday night.
Kolbe has been a hit in France since joining Stade Toulouse in 2017 from the Stormers, and was part of the Toulouse team that won the French Top 14 title earlier this year.
And despite missing two World Cup matches due to an ankle injury, the 26-year-old’s impact was immense for the Boks in Japan, none more so than in the final, where he sped down the right flank and stepped past England captain Owen Farrell for a memorable touchdown.
Kolbe missed out on the World Rugby Player of the Year award to national teammate Pieter-Steph du Toit a few weeks ago, but received an “Oscar” from Bok record try-scorer Bryan Habana – who was handed a legend award – on Monday.
“I couldn’t have done this without my teammates at the club at Stade Toulousain and with my country. To get this award, it’s really special,” Kolbe told reporters.
“Everything that happens to me is totally crazy. It shows that things can always evolve. 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 were wrong. Weight and size are nothing next to what you can accomplish with your determination.
“Winning the World Cup has 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. We didn’t just do this for ourselves as players, but we did it for each and every person in South Africa – young, old, we did this for them.
“We knew what our country was going through, and where we could give a lot of hope and just unite our country. That’s what we really wanted to do as a group of players.
“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.”
His World Cup-winning teammates Duane Vermeulen, Frans Steyn and captain Siya Kolisi were also present at the event and were celebrated as world champions, with Kolisi receiving on honorary “Oscar” for the Boks’ achievement.
But Kolbe doesn’t want the glory to end there. Apart from Toulouse and the Boks, he feels that he has unfinished business at the Olympics, having been part of the Blitzboks team that claimed a bronze medal at the Rio Games.
A gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics would complete the set of major international titles for Kolbe, with the Boks having also won the Rugby Championship this year.
“I want to be a European champion with Toulouse and we can maybe do it this season. This is my next goal, with the one I hope, to represent South Africa with the national team at Sevens at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.”