They are the first South African winners to be announced as part of the end-of-season awards, with Ulster’s Alan O’Connor (Tackle Machine) and Ospreys pair Jac Morgan (Turnover King) and Gareth Anscombe (Gilbert Golden Boot) having scooped the three accolades already handed out.
The Dream Team and the Next-Gen Star of the Season will be announced later this week while Vodacom Fans’ Player of the Season, the Loch Lomond Coach of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season will be crowned in the build-up to the Grand Final.
Here, we take a closer look at the Top Try Scorer and Ironman award winners and the performances that led to their prizes, which were awarded using URC StatMaster data provided by Oval Insights.
Top Try Scorer: Leolin Zas (DHL Stormers) - 11 tries
"It is incredible to think that I finished the regular season as the Top Try Scorer in the competition," said Zas.
"A lot of those tries are down to the hard work of my teammates creating the opportunities for me to finish. I am grateful to them, the management, my family and our fans for the amazing support I have got this season."
Zas held on to his position at the top of the Vodacom URC try-scoring charts in the face of some late competition from Benetton’s Rhyno Smith, who claimed seven tries in his last three appearances to pull level with Zas on 10 at the summit.
However, Zas – who scored at least one try in each of his first six Vodacom URC outings – grabbed the DHL Stormers’ first try in their Round 18 victory over the Scarlets to nudge back in front and claim the prize.
Marcell Coetzee (Vodacom Bulls) and Seabelo Senatla (DHL Stormers) finished joint third on nine, with Edwill van der Merwe (Emirates Lions), Johan Grobbelaar (Vodacom Bulls) and Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) another try further back.
Ironman: Ruan Nortje (Vodacom Bulls) - 1,394 minutes
“I am humbled and honoured to receive the Vodacom United Rugby Championship Ironman Award for the 2021/22 season," said Nortje.
"To receive this recognition in a world-class competition with some of the most respected players is definitely something that will remain a highlight in my playing career for many years to come. I am grateful to the Vodacom Bulls, our director of rugby, Jake White, the coaching staff, my teammates and the supporters of the franchise for the faith and support they have all given and had in me.
"To be able to put on the blue jersey and play for the badge in such a premier championship is something I do not take lightly. I look forward to many more memories and matches in the URC.”
The 23-year-old racked up 1,394 minutes on the field of play and was one of only 14 players to feature in all 18 of their team’s matches.
Nortje scored one try as the Vodacom Bulls achieved a fourth-place finish in the regular season and was second to Glasgow Warriors’ Richie Gray for lineout steals (9).
The Vodacom Bulls dominated the top five when it came to minutes played, with Marcell Coetzee (1,296) third and Madosh Tambwe (1,295) fourth. DHL Stormers centre Ruhan Nel (1,339) was second while Cape Town colleague Manie Libbok (1,264) was fifth.
Vodacom URC Award Winners 2021-22:
Tackle Machine: Alan O’Connor (Ulster)
Turnover King: Jac Morgan (Ospreys)
Gilbert Golden Boot: Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys)
Top Try Scorer: Leolin Zas (DHL Stormers)
Ironman: Ruan Nortje (Vodacom Bulls)