The Springboks have no less than six nominations for prestigious honours in the World Rugby Awards, which will take place at the World Rugby Awards dinner in Tokyo on Sunday evening.
The nominations include one for Team of the Year – an award they last won a decade ago in 2009, and for which they’re in the running along with England, Wales, New Zealand and Japan; Rassie Erasmus has also been nominated for Coach of the Year, along with the other coaches of the aforementioned teams: Eddie Jones, Warren Gatland, Steve Hansen and Jamie Joseph respectively. The last South African to take home this award was Jake White, 12 years ago.
Meanwhile Cobus Reinach’s hat-trick try against Canada at the Rugby World Cup is one of the contenders for the International Rugby Players (IRP) Try of the Year 2019 award and Herschel Jantjies has been recognised for his stunning debut season by being one of three nominated for the title of World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year, while Cheslin Kolbe and Pieter-Steph du Toit have both been nominated for the Men’s 15s Player of the Year Award.
“The Rugby Championship winners are bidding to create Rugby World Cup history by becoming the first team to lift the Webb Ellis Cup after losing a match against New Zealand in their Pool B opener. That loss, 23-13, is their only one of the year, having won nine and drawn the other of their 11 tests. The Springboks have risen to number two in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings for the first time in more than four years after reaching a first RWC final since 2007,” says World Rugby, adding of Rassie Erasmus, “It might not have been Rassie Erasmus’ intention to become Springbok head coach when he returned to South Africa but he has taken to the role with aplomb. An astute tactician, he has bonded the team together impressively and been rewarded with results. This year South Africa have won the Rugby Championship title and recovered from a pool-stage defeat to the All Blacks to power into the Rugby World Cup 2019 final.”
Cobus Reinach’s nominated try came in the 66-7 thrashing of Canada. It was started by Elton Jantjies inside the Springbok 22. The flyhalf produced an inch-perfect kick-pass for winger Warrick Gelant, who evaded DTH van der Merwe, and sprinted into the Canadian half. Damian de Allende offered support to keep the move going and in turn spun a pass to Reinach, who breezed under the posts to complete his hat-trick with barely 20 minutes of this Rugby World Cup Pool B match played.
International Rugby Players’ representative Conrad Smith, who chaired the Try of the Year panel, said: “There were some excellent scores this year and our job to pick a shortlist was a difficult one. From the men’s and women’s Six Nations in early 2019 all the way through to the Rugby World Cup in Japan, we saw some amazing efforts during the year. These tries really are a testament to the quality of international rugby and the skills on display out there and this sparked some great debate among the panel.”
As for Herschel Jantjies, World Rugby says of the Springbok scrumhalf, “Few people knew anything about the diminutive scrum-half outside of the Stormers camp coming into 2019, but he announced himself to the world in some style, scoring twice on his test debut against Australia in the Rugby Championship in July and then touching down again in the 16-16 draw with New Zealand. The 23-year-old has featured in all but one of South Africa’s tests since, more often than not providing an impact off the bench.”
Jantjies scored his fourth test try in the 41-7 win over Japan at the beginning of September and has made nine test appearances in all. The only Springbok match he has missed this season was the 24-18 win over Argentina in Pretoria when he was injured.
World rugby said of Pieter-Steph du Toit: “A linchpin in the South African pack, Du Toit has started eight of the Springboks’ 10 tests in 2019 and been an unused replacement in the RWC 2019 win over Canada. The towering 27-year-old may have flitted between second-row and flanker in the early days of his international career, but he has made the No.7 jersey his own over the last two years and his work-rate and versatility mean he is one of the first names down on Rassie Erasmus’ team sheet.”
World rugby said of Cheslin Kolbe: “The dancing feet of Kolbe have lit up Rugby World Cup 2019 with the diminutive winger showing that size isn’t everything, his footwork and pace allowing him to turn a defence inside out and leave players clutching at thin air in his wake. The Springbok, who turned 26 earlier this week, has started six tests in 2019 and scored five tries, including two in the pool stage against Italy when he was named Player of the Match. An ankle injury ruled him out of the semi-final with Wales but the Springboks will be delighted he is back for the final.”
Wow, the Springboks really have had a great season so far with exciting talented players making their mark in the team! Good luck for the final tomorrow guys! South Africa is right behind you!