Rassie & the Boks Sweep Rugby Awards
Last week’s issue had so much World Cup action, reporting and analysis that we held back the story from Sunday night in Tokyo and the annual World Rugby Awards ceremony. We did that for two reasons: we didn’t think we could give the story the prominence it deserves; and we anticipated a lull in rugby news post-Rugby World Cup.
Consequently, you may already have heard that Rassie and his Springbok team cleaned up the World Rugby Awards, picking up three of the top awards on offer:Springboks were named Team of the Year; Pieter-Steph du Toit was named World Player of the Year; and Rassie Erasmus was named Coach of the Year.
Turning to the most prestigious award, Team of the Year, the rationale was quite simple: the Springboks completed the double of winning both the Rugby World Cup and The Rugby Championship this year. That has never been achieved before, even by the All Blacks.
Sadly, it’s not as impressive as it may have been given that the whingers found a way to burgle the World Cup and the northern hemisphere equivalent, the Six Nations, back in 2003. That was an exceedingly poor year for global rugby.
That said, there have been three opportunities before this for the southern hemisphere double – even if we include the years it was known as the Tri-Nations: 2007, 2011 & 2015.
That Erasmus won Coach of the Year was also no real surprise given that, by tradition, the coach of the World Cup winning team almost always gets the award in a World Cup year. The exception was 2015 when it was gifted to Michael Cheika for coming second in the World Cup and burgling The Rugby Championship.
Similarly, du Toit is a deserved World Player of the Year for his typically brilliant game in the RWC as well as a superb season throughout 2019 - and before.