Springboks / 4 November 2019, 07:25am / Jacques van der Westhuizen
It doesn't get more emphatic than that - the Springboks, having won the Rugby World Cup on Saturday for the third time in history, were named World Rugby’s Team of the Year too.
And coach Rassie Erasmus, who transformed the Boks from no-hopers in 2016 and 2017 to World Cup winners in 2019, was named Coach of the Year.
Blindside flank Pieter-Steph du Toit ensured it was a triple win for South African rugby at the annual awards evening last night by being named World Rugby’s Player of the Year.
It was a triumphant Sunday in Japan for the Boks, who a day earlier beat England 32-12 in the Rugby World Cup final to make it three wins from seven attempts.
The Boks also lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 1995 and 2007.
Erasmus beat New Zealand’s Steve Hansen, Wales’ Warren Gatland, Japan’s Jamie Joseph and England’s Eddie Jones to the award, while Du Toit was nominated alongside Tom Curry (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Ardie Savea (New Zealand), Joe Taufete’e (USA) and South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe.
The tall Bok blindside flank is also a two-time SA Rugby Player of the Year winner and joins fellow South Africans Schalk Burger (2004) and Bryan Habana (2007) as South African winners of the award.
The captain of the 1995 World Cup-winning Bok team, Francois Pienaar, who attended Saturday’s final in Yokohama as well as last night’s annual awards evening, 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 blew 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 and congratulatory messages for the Springboks continued to dominate social media yesterday.
Former Benoni girl and now Hollywood star Charlize Theron tweeted alongside a picture of Kolisi lifting the Webb Ellis Cup high above his head, with his team-mates 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!”
Breyton Paulse, a former Bok wing and now television pundit, said of coach Erasmus: “This man has been instrumental in giving people opportunities and backing them. A lot of leaders in various fields can learn a lot from him, it can be achieved at the highest of levels, a mastermind, Dankie Rassie.”
Meanwhile, the Boks will embark on a mini tour of South Africa to show off the Webb Ellis Cup and to thank their fans.
Captain Siya Kolisi will lead the victory tour in Gauteng on Thursday, where they will visit Joburg, Soweto and Pretoria.
The triumphant Bok squad will then visit Durban on Friday, East London on Saturday and Port Elizabeth on Sunday. They will conclude their tour in Cape Town next Monday.
Further details and specific locations will be made known closer to the time. The Boks will arrive back in South Africa (at OR Tambo International) from Japan on a number of different flights from tomorrow.