Scoring the winning try in a World Cup final in most cases would be enough of an accolade for one person to last them a lifetime. Then again, Cheslin Kolbe is not your average person or professional rugby player for that matter, far from it. The 5’ 7” 12 stone winger is quite possibly the best rugby player in the world at the moment and his collection of accolades at the Top 14 awards goes on to prove that.
The man from Kraaifontein in Cape Town scooped three of the biggest awards of the night as he won Top 14 Player of the Year, Best Try of the Season as well as Best Top 14 Player at the World Cup. As far as recognition goes in the Top 14, one of Europe’s most competitive domestic leagues, this is probably the highest a player can receive. Indeed, the awards just keep coming for Kolbe.
It’s been a whirlwind few months month for the pocket rocker winger as not long ago he was winning the World Cup with South Africa as they beat England 32-12 in Yokohama. Don’t forget though that Kolbe wasn’t short of silverware coming into the 2019 World Cup in Japan as he had already won the Top 14 with Toulouse in June, which was followed up by the Rugby Championship with the Springboks in August, the first time South Africa have managed to win that in 10 years. You would have to say that Kolbe looks to be the common denominator here as everywhere he goes he ends up winning trophies.
HOW GOOD.— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) November 3, 2019
This try, in the Rugby World Cup final, was sensational from Cheslin Kolbe. pic.twitter.com/DXZFGG3DTz
It probably wouldn’t be fair to call the last few months a purple patch either given the awards he has received in 2019 has put him into a category in world rugby that few could ever dream of belonging to. And, as for his value, given how much his stock has risen over the last 12 months, it's hard to think of a player in world rugby who could command a bigger contract. With that being said, he still has 36 months left on his deal with Toulouse and it’s altogether possible the French club will look to reward him with another big raise after the season he has had. Although the mighty Toulouse may be looking to nurture and not spend over the next few years.
The French giants have recruited superbly over the last few years and are more than happy to splash the cash when they see a player they want. What is interesting though is that they have a strong set of homegrown youngsters coming through now which hasn’t always been the case. Romain Ntamack is probably the best example of that after he was voted World Rugby’s Breakthrough Player of the Year for 2019.
It should be noted how desperately France are in need of a new generation to save the national team after years of decline. Their 7/1 Six Nations betting odds to win the tournament does show how far they have fallen behind but times could be changing and the 2020 season may well yield a change in fortune for Les Bleus.
Kolbe’s meteoric rise should give French fans a lot of hope though as the Springboks were in the wilderness before he arrived on the scene back in 2018. It only takes one player to spark a revival and that man could be the impressive Ntamack for France.
As far as the 26-year-old South African goes, however, he now has his sights on crossing codes back to sevens rugby in order to help the Blitzbokke win gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It must be said, the omens are good for South Africa and Kolbe given the last time they set off to win gold in Japan, they did so.