Five coaches have been nominated for the World Rugby coach of the year award – and fans on social media feel that there is one clear winner.
The list was selected by Maggie Alphonsi, Brian O’Driscoll, Agustin Pichot, Nick Mallett and Clive Woodward and all nominees have legitimate reasons to be there.
Warren Gatland led Wales to Grand Slam glory and a World Cup semi-final, Rassie Erasmus won the Rugby Championship and has steered the Springboks to the RWC final, as has Eddie Jones, who masterminded a comprehensive semi-final win over the All Blacks.
Both Erasmus and Jones took over their teams when they were at a nadir and have brought them to the top of the world rankings.
In fact, Steve Hansen may be the most unmerited inclusion on the list as, by his usual standards, this has had his worst year in charge of the All Blacks as he has not won one of the Rugby Championship or the RWC.
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But it is Hansen’s compatriot, and Japan head coach Jamie Joseph who looks to be the popular choice to win the award among fans on Twitter. The former All Black-led Japan to Pacific Nations Cup glory earlier in the year, but it has been his exploits at the RWC that has won him so many fans.
This in itself is an almighty achievement given Japan’s historically lowly status in world rugby and their resources compared to the tier one nations. However, it is the brand of rugby that Joseph has got his side playing that has been so engrossing. Japan played at a ruthlessly quick tempo and had the precise passing and offloading to run rings around whoever they played.
It was always likely these two – Erasmus and Jones – would head the coach of the year shortlist but three others are in the running for the World Rugby awardhttps://t.co/E1lQOHTe17
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 31, 2019
It was only once the Springboks tightened the game up against the Brave Blossoms and turned to their sizeable pack that there were able to get an advantage.
Losing in a quarter-final may not necessarily look impressive on paper, but it is the manner how Joseph got there and with which team that makes him many people’s favourite. This is what has been said:
Even if England win on Saturday (let it be so) it has to be Jamie Joseph, surely? In terms of growing the world game and the innovation and quality of the Japanese game plan he would get my vote every time.
— Saltysnowflake (@EricAnbo) October 31, 2019
Jamie Joseph given the team he had to work with and shape, amazing achievement!
— Graeme Saunders (@GraemeSaunders6) October 31, 2019
All notably laudable – but for the fantastically entertaining and refreshing way Japan plays, for me it's Jamie Joseph
— Andrew Hopper (@AndrewH25759232) October 31, 2019
Joseph all the way- taking England or South Africa with their scores of talented players to the final is great but having a severely limited player pool and defeating Ireland and Scotland is an unearthly achievement.
The shockingly stale Hansen shouldn't even be nominated. ?
— Sansa T Kake (@KakeSansa) October 31, 2019
Jamie Joseph what he has done with @JapanRugbyClub is amazing.
— Colin Cooke (@Daddycooke) October 31, 2019
This has to be about what you've achieved with what you had to start with, therefore JJ has to be a shoe in. You can't judge this on trophies, it has to be on progress!
— Lee966 (@Lee96610) October 31, 2019
Jamie Joseph he had much less talent and no rugby culture to work with and what he achieved is more than someone who wins the world cup with all those things in place. Truly miraculous. Respect sir. ?????
— steve (@honesttruth08) October 31, 2019
Jamie Joseph. Japan's performance was completely unexpected and amazing. He's brought them so far, and the entire country of Japan is now wild with new rugby excitement. What a treat it was to have been in Japan to watch them play and feel that excitement. Great for the sport.
— EODCZ (@eodcz) October 31, 2019
With the final between England and South Africa yet to be played, the winning coach in that match may sneak the victory and that would be an understandable outcome. If so, that would not take anything away from what Joseph has achieved this year with Japan.
WATCH: Assistant coach Jacques Nienaber fields questions ahead of South Africa’s World Cup final versus England
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