The Castle Lager Proteas’ Test squad walked away as the big winners at the third annual Virgin Active Sport Industry Awards Gala Dinner held at Emperors Palace on Thursday evening. The Proteas were rewarded for their outstanding contribution to South African sport, in a year where they sailed to the top of the ICC Test rankings, and became the first team to simultaneously hold the No.1 spot across all three formats.
Proteas vice-captain AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and Jacques Rudolph received the trophy presented by last year’s recipient, Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius.
"There were quite a few highlights this year,” de Villiers said. “All the wins were really special, especially England, which was where we started off. I remember the Olympic Games when we were there – we felt part of a whole South African community there in England and we did really well. Ernie Els winning the British Open at the same time was also special, it was a wonderful time to be South African.
Australia was a special occasion for us, but coming back to South Africa now and seeing the support that we've got and understanding what we've achieved is really special."
Pistorius was honoured to hand over the award to the No.1 ranked Proteas, who he says play an important role in unifying the country
"It's a great honour to present this Award,” he said. “I'm like many South Africans - we're glued to the TV when these guys are overseas, and on home soil we're there on the grass beside the field. It's absolutely fantastic watching them perform.
“Every one of them plays an integral part in bringing up our country and uniting us, so it's fantastic to be here tonight and give them a small piece of recognition for their outstanding achievement. It’s a great honour for me."
The squad was treated to a standing ovation at the prestigious ceremony in Johannesburg, which celebrates the very best in commercial achievement in South African sport. The night recognised winners of Awards for their work in disciplines including PR, marketing, advertising, sponsorship, community investment, and overall commercial success.
To see the rest of the winners at the Virgin Active Sport Industry Awards, visit www.sportindustry.co.za. Join the conversation on Twitter @SportIndustrySA and #VASIA13.