Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber, centurion lock Eben Etzebeth and flyhalf Manie Libbok are among a top-class list of nominees for the 2023 World Rugby Awards, which will be presented at the Opéra Garnier in Paris on Sunday, 29 October – a day after Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final at the Stade de France.
Nienaber is in line for the World Rugby Coach of the Year award, while Etzebeth and Libbok have been nominated in the categories of World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year and World Rugby Men’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year respectively. Etzebeth was also selected for the World Rugby Men’s 15s Dream Team.
Nienaber, who took up the role as Springbok head coach in 2020 after serving as an assistant coach to Rassie Erasmus, who switched roles from Bok head coach to SA Rugby Director of Rugby after the team’s triumphant 2019 RWC campaign in Japan, will go up against Ian Foster (New Zealand), Andy Farrell (Ireland) and Simon Raiwalui (Fiji) for the world’s most prestigious coaching award.
Etzebeth, who is currently the third most capped Springbok player of all time with 118 Test caps, has been nominated for the Player of the Year award alongside Bundee Aki (Ireland centre), Antoine Dupont (France scrumhalf and captain) and Ardie Savea (New Zealand loose forward).
Libbok features on an exciting list of nominees for Breakthrough Player of the Year along with Louis Bielle-Biarrey (France wing), Mark Tele’a and Tamaiti Williams (New Zealand wing and prop respectively).
“We would like to congratulate Jacques, Eben and Manie for being nominated for these prestigious awards and we wish them luck for the awards ceremony,” said SA Rugby President, Mr Mark Alexander.
“These awards recognise the best coaches and players in the world, and to have nominees in three categories is a testament to the class of our coaches and players in South Africa.
“I would also like to use this opportunity wish the Springboks good luck for the Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand on Saturday at the Stade de France. It is a massive honour to represent your country on the biggest stage in world rugby and everyone at SA Rugby and the entire nation is behind you. We have full faith in you to continue giving the country hope and putting smiles on people’s faces.”