Rugby World Cup 2019: Springboks dominate World Rugby Awards in Tokyo

A stellar year for the Springboks was honoured on Sunday evening, when the team collected the three top awards in the World Rugby Awards in Tokyo.

Flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit was named World Player of the Year, Rassie Erasmus was named as Coach of the Year and the Springboks were named Team of the Year.

Du Toit was a colossus for the Springboks during the World Cup and dominated the breakdown during the final win over England, helping South Africa secure seven turnovers and proving a menace for the English throughout the match.

He also made 11 tackles and set up fellow player-of-the-year nominee Cheslin Kolbe for the decisive final try in the 32-12 win.

"This is probably one of the best moments of my life," said Du Toit.

"I think it is the two biggest experiences in the rugby world that you can get. It is an unbelievable experience for me and I couldn't be happier at the moment."

Du Toit became the third Springbok to land the award, after Schalk Burger and Bryan Habana.

The other nominations were Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, England flanker Tom Curry, Springboks wing Cheslin Kolbe, All Blacks flanker Ardie Savea and USA forward Joe Taufete'e.

A keenly contested coach-of-the-year award went to Erasmus, who masterminded the World Cup triumph, with his Springboks side named Team of the Year.

When he took over in March 2018, South Africa were ranked seventh in the world, but they have returned to their traditional forwards-based game with extraordinary results. 


"This has been a long journey to keep believing and trusting and not getting frustrated with each other, keeping the belief going," Erasmus said.

"For me, it is significant that, no matter what, the boys always kept South Africa above their own interests, above their own egos and always kept the Springboks and South Africa's interests up there."

Erasmus prevailed in a category that saw England's Eddie Jones, Wales boss Warren Gatland, Japan's Jamie Joseph and New Zealand's Steve Hansen nominated. 

England, Wales, Japan and New Zealand also received nominations in the team category, but the Springboks' latest triumph was recognised as captain Siya Kolisi received the award from World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot.

"I think it is probably going to sink in when we get home and see how people are back at home," said Kolisi.

"They have really been driving us, they have been behind us. I think Coach said it earlier - they have been a huge part of our success as a team, and we are looking forward to going back home and celebrating with them."

Meanwhile, England's Emily Scarratt won the women's World Player of the Year.

Twenty-nine-year-old Scarratt joined former England colleagues Maggie Alphonsi and Sarah Hunter in winning the women's gong.

"It's mad," Scarratt said. "At the start of the season, I was still playing sevens, so I have come back to 15s and got my teeth back into it."

The shortlist also included fellow England internationals Katy Daley-McLean and Sarah Bern, Black Fern Kendra Cocksedge and France's Pauline Bourdon.

French first-five Romain Ntamack won the breakthrough Player of the Year award, beating out England wing Joe Cokanasiga and South Africa scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies.

TJ Perenara's score in New Zealand's pool-stage win over Namibia was named as the Try of the Year, while England's Wayne Barnes won the night's referee award.

New Zealand's Ruby Tui won the Women's Sevens Players of the Year award. 

2019 World Rugby Awards winners

Men's 15s Player of the Year: Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa)
Women's 15s Player of the Year: Emily Scarratt (England)
Team of the Year: South Africa
Coach of the Year: Rassie Erasmus (South Africa)
Breakthrough Player of the Year: Romain Ntamack (France)
Men's Sevens Player of the Year: Jerry Tuwai (Fiji)
Women's Sevens Player of the Year: Ruby Tui (New Zealand)
Referee Award: Wayne Barnes (England)
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service: Bernard Lapasset (France)
Award for Character: The city of Kamaishi
IRP Special Merit Award: Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)
IRP Try of the Year: TJ Perenara (New Zealand v Namibia)