Ox Nche makes the cut as Bulls dominate URC Team of the Season

Kurt-Lee Arendse was one of the stars of the Bulls’ charge to second position on the United Rugby Championship log. Photo: BackpagePix

Kurt-Lee Arendse was one of the stars of the Bulls’ charge to second position on the United Rugby Championship log. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 16, 2024


The Sharks may have had a forgettable United Rugby Championship season, but still managed to have a player selected in the overall team of the season.

The Elite XV, which is decided by a media panel vote – with players having had to make at least nine appearances in the tournament – saw Sharks No 1 Ox Nche make the cut after a number of excellent performances for the Durban side, who finished in 14th position on the log.

The Sharks, though, clinched the Challenge Cup title in order to qualify for next season’s Champions Cup tournament.

Another Sharks star, fullback Aphelele Fassi, clinched the Try of the Season award for his superb effort against Edinburgh.

There were quite a few other South African players who made the URC team.

The Bulls boasted a whopping six players as they surged to second on the log, which saw them host yesterday’s semi-final against Leinster at Loftus Versfeld.

In a titanic battle, the Bulls held on to beat the Irish giants 25-20 to reach next weekend’s final at Loftus Versfeld, where they will face the Glasgow Warriors, who beat Munster 17-10 in the second semi-final at Thomond Park in Limerick.

Bulls wing Kurt-Lee Arendse, No 8 Cameron Hanekom, blindside flank Elrigh Louw, captain Ruan Nortjé, powerhouse tighthead prop Wilco Louw and barn-storming hooker Akker van der Merwe were all picked for the Elite XV, and they were joined by Stormers fullback Warrick Gelant.

Leinster had just one player selected, right wing Jordan Larmour, while URC log leaders Munster had inside centre Alex Nankivell, flyhalf Jack Crowley and No 4 lock Tadhg Beirne.

The Bulls gained further recognition as flyhalf Chris Smith clinched the Golden Boot award for being the most successful place-kicker after a 90% accuracy rate with 30 kicks.

United Rugby Championship Elite XV

15 Warrick Gelant (Stormers) 14 Jordan Larmour (Leinster) 13 Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow) 12 Alex Nankivell (Munster) 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls) 10 Jack Crowley (Munster) 9 John Cooney (Ulster) 8 Cameron Hanekom (Bulls) 7 Elrigh Louw (Bulls) 6 Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) 5 Ruan Nortjé (Bulls) 4 Tadhg Beirne (Munster) 3 Wilco Louw (Bulls) 2 Akker van der Merwe (Bulls) 1 Ox Nche (Sharks).

URC Awards Winners 2023-24

Tackle Machine: Alessandro Izekor (Benetton)

Turnover King: Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh)

Gilbert Golden Boot: Chris Smith (Bulls)

OFX Top Try Scorer: Johnny Matthews (Glasgow)

Ironman Award: Shane Daly (Munster)

Next-Gen Player of the Season: Jack Crowley (Munster)

Try of the Season Powered by URC.tv: Aphelele Fassi (Sharks)

Elixirr Innovation Award: Benetton