South Africa won the three main awards from World Rugby on Sunday.
Pieter-Steph du Toit was named Player of the Year, at the awards ceremony in Tokyo.
Rassie Erasmus was named Coach of the Year and the Springboks were named Team of the Year.
The 27-year-old Du Toit, who plays for Western Province and the Stormers, was instrumental in South Africa’s World Cup campaign – especially effective at the breakdown and winning the battle against England’s famed “kamikaze boys” back row in the Final.
“It’s a massive honour for me to accept this award,” said Du Toit.
“I think when we come back [to South Africa], it’s going to be an unbelievable experience.
“We can’t wait to get home. We miss our country so much,” added the Springbok.
“I’ve got three younger brothers as well and they tell me ‘You’re living our dream’, so I have to live up to that,” he told reporters.
Du Toit beat off competition including his teammate wing Cheslin Kolbe, as well as All Black Ardie Savea and England’s young star Tom Curry.
The World Rugby panel picked South Africa as Team of the Year and Erasmus as coach of the year, after the Springboks won the World Cup and also secured the Rugby Championship for the first time since 2009.
Erasmus took over as Director of Rugby at the end of 2017 and shortly afterwards doubled his responsibilities by becoming head coach – following the sacking of Allister Coetzee, after a miserable run of 12 losses from 25 games over two seasons – which saw the Boks drop to No.7 in the world.
He has turned the Boks’ fortunes around in less than two years, culminating in Saturday’s win when Siya Kolisi, their first black captain, lifted the trophy in Yokohama.
The women’s player of the year award went to Emily Scarratt, the 29-year-old centre who helped England to a Grand Slam in the women’s Six Nations.
‘We want to be like New Zealand’
The World Rugby panel picked South Africa as men’s team of the year and Erasmus as top coach after the Springboks won the World Cup and also secured the Rugby Championship for the first time since 2009.
Erasmus took over as Director of Rugby at the end of 2017 and shortly afterwards doubled his responsibilities by becoming head coach – following the sacking of Allister Coetzee, after a miserable run of 12 losses from 25 games.
He has rapidly turned the Boks’ fortunes around, culminating in the weekend’s 32-12 win over England in the Final – when Siya Kolisi, their first black captain, lifted the trophy in Yokohama.
“I’m very, very proud to be South Africa,” said the affable Erasmus, a strong believer in building a game plan around kicking half-backs and a solid set-piece.
“We’re all trying to be like the All Blacks.
“We’ve enjoyed the last 24 hours.
“We’ll enjoy the next two weeks and then after that, we want to be like New Zealand, to be consistent,” he added.
“We really needed some good news,” he said, referring to the “many challenges” faced by his country.
Earlier flyhalf Romain Ntamack, one of the bright spots in France’s run to the quarterfinals, was named Breakthrough Player of the Year.
All Blacks back Thomas Perenara’s stunning World Cup score against Namibia, where he collected Brad Weber’s behind-the-back pass and touched down spectacularly in the corner, was awarded Try of the Year.
Fiji’s Jerry Tuwai was men’s Sevens Player of the Year, while Ruby Tui of New Zealand won the women’s award for the Olympic format.
And referee of the year went to Wayne Barnes, the highly regarded Englishman who took charge of Friday’s third-place play-off between New Zealand and Wales.