Coach Jacques Nienaber says South Africa’s lack of representation at the World Rugby awards is inconsequential for their performance against England on Saturday.
Despite winning the British & Irish Lions series 2-1, beating the All Blacks away from home and being the No 1-ranked team, the Springboks were overlooked in most of World Rugby’s awards categories, including Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Team of the Year and Rookie of the Year.
In addition to that, no Blitzbok players were nominated in the Sevens Player of the Year category.
South Africa’s only representation is Lukhanyo Am’s nomination for the Try of the Year award, for his effort in the match between South Africa A and the Lions.
But while the awards have caused outrage in some parts and were mocked in others, especially the Player of the Year award nominees in Australia’s Michael Hooper and Samu Kerevi, England’s Maro Itoje and France’s Antoine Dupont, Nienaber congratulated everyone who is up for an award and said what is perceived to be a snub makes no difference to the Springboks and will not serve as added motivation when they front England at Twickenham.
“We trust and respect the process to get to the nominations, and if you look at all the nominations – coaches, players, women’s rugby – if you look at the quality around all sections, I think it’s tremendous,” Nienaber explained during a virtual media conference on Tuesday.
“We are very happy for the guys who got nominated. Some of our players in the past have been nominated, and it’s very special for them. We wish all the nominees the best of luck with the whole process.
“The motivation comes from playing for the Boks, and I know it sounds cliched, but it is so. The guys don’t play for a tap on the shoulder and a ‘Well done’. They are playing for their country, and on Saturday, it’s South Africa against England.
“We have full confidence in the process that World Rugby use to get the nominations. There is good quality, and good luck to them with the process going forward.”