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'Travesty' - Bok fans furious over shock omission from World Rugby awards

By Ian Cameron
PA

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Springboks fans are irate at the lack of South African representation in World Rugby’s end-of-year awards shortlists.

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Not one South African has been selected for either the World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year or the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year.

Two Australians, an Englishman and a Frenchman have been nominated for the Men’s World Player of the Year, but there was no room for Siya Kolisi – or any other Springbok for that matter. Antoine Dupont, Michael Hooper, Maro Itoje and Samu Kerevi were all shortlisted for the prestigious award, as revealed this morning.

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Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi speaks about the vexed issue of transformation
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Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi speaks about the vexed issue of transformation

New Zealand’s Will Jordan, Australia’s Andrew Kellaway, Wales’ Louis Rees-Zammit and England’s Marcus Smith were nominated for Breakthrough Player of the Year.

There is also no South African representation for coach of the year. Allan Bunting/Cory Sweeney (New Zealand Women’s Sevens), Ian Foster (New Zealand Men), Simon Middleton (England Women) and Dave Rennie (Australia Men) were all nominated in that category.

Springboks fans have taken to social media to vent at the omissions, some taking it as a subtle dig by World Rugby at the World Champions.

“If ever World Rugby sent out a big [single finger emoji] to the Springboks, it’s this year’s World Rugby awards! I’m sorry, but Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth not even being nominated is a travesty. A shocking call!,” wrote one furious fan.

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Another wrote: “Worthy players but shocked that Siya Kolisi isn’t even nominated… Was expecting a showdown between him and Hooper with a side of Dupont.”

“Lol Face with tears of joy and no Springboks in sight. Think maybe Siya Kolisi is playing NFL this season. What a joke but anyway will probably spur the Boks even more on this weekend at Twickenham,” wrote another exasperated fan.

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With current Springboks Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus currently embroiled in a disciplinary procedure with World Rugby, the timing the of the selection seems – to some minds – to be somewhat less than mere coincidence.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The World Rugby Awards are the ultimate accolade for rugby, and we are delighted to honour the outstanding players and individuals who have made an impact on our game on and off the field in 2021.

“The pandemic and its consequences have restricted several unions from playing international games this year and we recognise that not all rugby stars have had a chance to shine. Nevertheless, the World Rugby Awards Panel has done an amazing job in selecting suitable candidates in each category and I would like to congratulate all nominees who, deservingly, have been shortlisted for this year’s awards.”

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