Boks snubbed for World Rugby award

Not a single Springbok player has been included among the nominees for World Rugby’s 2021 Player of the Year award, who were announced on Monday.

This despite the fact that Jacques Nienaber’s team has beaten the British & Irish Lions twice to win the series 2-1, beat the All Blacks on the Gold Coast and claimed away wins over Six Nations champions Wales in Cardiff and Six Nations title-challengers Scotland in Edinburgh.

The Springboks currently top World Rugby’s official rankings, after a 15-point victory at Murrayfield and Ireland’s toppling of New Zealand in Dublin. The All Blacks, who rank second in the world, have also not had any players nominated.

It is the first time that neither South Africa nor New Zealand will be represented since the inaugural year of the award in 2001.

Instead, Australia captain Michael Hooper and centre Samu Kerevi – the latter having played five Tests this year – France scrumhalf Antoine Dupont and England lock Maro Itoje have been nominated.

The panel that decided the Men’s 15s nominees includes former Bok captain John Smit, former England head coach Clive Woodward and former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

Full World Rugby awards panel

Captain Siya Kolisi was among the Springboks heavily favoured to at least be nominated for the award, which was last won by teammate Pieter-Steph du Toit in 2019. Eben Etzebeth, who has been a pillar of strength in the second row, centre pair Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am and wing Makazole Mapimpi have also been top performers this year.

The snubbing of Springbok players will no doubt lead to further questions of the integrity of the award, which this year will be decided exclusively by a fan vote, rather than a panel of experts.

The winner of the award will be announced on 10 December.

Photo: Morgan Treacy/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

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Dylan Jack