Smith wins 2023/24 VURC Golden Boot Award


Vodacom Bulls flyhalf Chris Smith has added his name to the Vodacom United Rugby Championship Awards roll of honour by collecting the Gilbert Golden Boot prize for the 2023/24 season.

Smith is amongst two other winners, Alessandro Izekor who takes this season’s Tackle Machine and Jamie Ritchie who is the season’s Turnover King.

The trio become the first award winners of the 2023/24 season as the VURC rolls out the red carpet ahead of the semi-finals, with the OFX Top Try Scorer, Ironman, Try of the Season powered by, Next-Gen Player of the Season, Elite XV, and Elixirr Innovation Award winners all set to be announced this week.

The final three awards – the Vodacom URC Player of the Season, BKT Coach of the Season, and the Player’s Player of the Season, will all be announced next week ahead of the Grand Final.

But first, here is a closer look at today’s three winners.

GILBERT GOLDEN BOOT: Chris Smith (Vodacom Bulls) 30 kicks, 90% accuracy

The Gilbert Golden Boot is awarded in recognition of the most accurate place-kicker, with all kickers who have attempted a minimum of 30 ranked by their success percentage.

Smith wins the award with 30 successful kicks, and an accuracy of 90%.

Ulster’s John Cooney wasn’t far behind him with 49 kicks and an accuracy of 88%, with Leinster’ Ross Byrne coming in third with an accuracy of 87% from his 31 successful kicks.

Other winners include…

TACKLE MACHINE: Alessandro Izekor (Benetton Rugby) – 188 tackles, 98% accuracy

This award is given to the player who boasts the best tackle success rate among those who have attempted 150 or more over the course of the campaign.

Izekor takes home the prize having made 188 tackles at a success rate of 98%.

The 24-year-old edged out DHL Stormers lock Ruben van Heerden, who made 224 tackles in the URC this season with a tackle accuracy of 97%. Scarlets lock Alex Craig finishes in third place with 199 tackles, and a tackle accuracy of 96%.

TURNOVER KING: Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – 22 turnovers

This is awarded to the player who has won the most turnovers during the regular season.

Ritchie wins the award convincingly with 22, four ahead of Connacht’s Shamus Hurley-Langton, who finished in second place with 18, and five ahead of third-placed JC Pretorius of the Emirates Lions, who made 17 turnovers.

Be sure to follow all the VURC Awards announcements using the hashtag #URCAwards

VURC Awards Winners 2023-24

Tackle Machine: Alessandro Izekor (Benetton Rugby)

Turnover King: Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby)

Gilbert Golden Boot: Chris Smith (Vodacom Bulls)