South African captain Siya Kolisi holds the Webb Ellis Cup aloft together with President Cyril Ramaphosa after the Boks' punishing victory over England in the Rugby World Cup final thriller at the International Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on Saturday. Christophe Ena AP African News Agency (ANA)
Pretoria - It doesn't get much more empathic than that - the Springboks, having won the Rugby World Cup on Saturday for the third time in history - were named World Rugby Team of the Year too.

And Coach Rassie Erasmus, who transformed the Boks from no-hopers in 2016 and 2017 to World Cup winners this year, scooped the Coach of the Year title.

Blindside flank Pieter-Steph du Toit ensured it was a triple for South African rugby at the annual awards evening yesterday by being named Player of the Year.

Yesterday was a triumphant day in Japan for the Boks, who a day earlier beat England 32-12 in the Rugby World Cup final to make it three wins in seven attempts. The Boks also lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 1995 and 2007.

Erasmus pipped New Zealand’s Steve Hansen, Wales’ Warren Gatland, Japan’s Jamie Joseph and England’s Eddie Jones to the title. Du Toit was nominated alongside Tom Curry (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Ardie Savea (New Zealand), Joe Taufete’e (US) and South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe.

He’s also a two-time SA Rugby Player of the Year winner and joins fellow countrymen Schalk Burger (2004) and Bryan Habana (2007) as South African winners of the award.

Captain of the 1995 World Cup-winning Bok team Francois Pienaar, who attended Saturday’s final in Yokohama and last night’s annual awards, echoed Bok captain Siya Kolisi’s words from Saturday that “anything is possible in South Africa, if we work together”.

“It’s been the most amazing 24 hours. It’s pretty emotional seeing Siya lift the Cup and to see what’s been happening in South Africa (since the final whistle on Saturday),” said Pienaar. “You see all that and you again realise what power sport has. If you work together you can achieve anything.”

Tributes to the squad continued to dominate social media yesterday. South African Hollywood star Charlize Theron tweeted, with a picture of Kolisi lifting the Webb Ellis Cup and teammates around him, “Sending so much love to these guys for a hard-fought and well- deserved win. Congratulations Springboks, you’ve done our country proud!”

Ex-Bok wing turned TV pundit Breyton Paulse said of coach Erasmus: “a lot of leaders in various fields can learn a lot from him dankie Rassie.”

The Boks will embark on a “mini tour” of South Africa to show off the Webb Ellis Cup and to thank their fans. Skipper Siya Kolisi will lead their victory tour in Joburg, Soweto and Pretoria on Thursday.

They visit Durban on Friday, East London on Saturday, PE on Sunday and conclude their tour in Cape Town next Monday. The heroes touch down at OR Tambo International from Japan on different flights from tomorrow.

Pretoria News