Fitzpatrick greatly admires way Kolisi led Boks in Japan
The Laureus World Sports Awards will be hosted in Berlin on 17 February, and the Boks have a real shot of emulating their 2007 World Cup-winning counterparts, who were subsequently chosen as the Laureus Team of the Year.
South Africa beat England 32-12 in the final in Yokohama on 2 November to complete an epic season in which they also clinched the Rugby Championship title.
After being picked as the World Rugby Team of the Year in December, the Boks are now in line for another global award from Laureus.
Laureus Academy chairman and former All Black captain Fitzpatrick said: “One could not have predicted the immense impact that South Africa’s win of the Rugby World Cup had around the world.
“With their victory inspiring the hearts of so many, uniting a multitude of communities, we see once again the exceptionally unique power of sport to unite.
“It seems only fitting that the Laureus theme for the 2020 Awards Ceremony is ‘Sport Unites Us’.
“If I wanted to identify a figure that symbolises the unity that sport has brought about in 2019, Siya Kolisi, the first black Test captain of South Africa, comes straight to mind.
“I greatly admire the way Kolisi led his team and how he has transcended his leadership role within rugby to become a leader and a role model for his entire country.
“I am not alone in applauding the whole team for the passion, determination and commitment they have shown. They are truly deserving of this nomination for the Laureus Team of the Year award.”
But the Boks won’t have an easy path to the Laureus Team of the Year award. Liverpool are in the running after clinching the Champions League crown; the US Women’s Football Team won the Women’s World Cup; Mercedes won the Formula One constructors’ title; the Toronto Raptors became the first Canadian team to win the NBA Championship; and Spain’s men’s team ruled at the Basketball World Cup.
In the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year category, it will be a terrific shoot-out between some of the biggest names from around the globe - Lewis Hamilton (Formula 1), Tiger Woods (golf), Eliud Kipchoge (athletics), Rafael Nadal (tennis) and Marc Marques (MotoGP).
Tennis star Naomi Osaka is in the mix for the Sportswoman of the Year award, with the remaining nominees being Simone Biles (gymnastics), Allyson Felix and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (athletics), Megan Rapinoe (soccer) and Mikaela Shiffrin (skiing).
There is further interest from a SA point of view in the Sporting Moment of the last 20 years - which is a celebration of the Laureus World Sports Awards’ 20th anniversary - where former Olympic swimmer Natalie du Toit has been nominated.
* Members of the public can vote for their Sporting Moment at laureus.com/vote