Etzebeth, Libbok, Nienaber nominated for World Rugby awards
Winner to be announced after the final between SA and New Zealand
SA’s Eben Etzebeth is among four nominees for the World Rugby men’s player of the year award, along with Ireland centre Bundee Aki, France captain Antoine Dupont and New Zealand’s Ardie Savea, officials announced on Thursday.
The winner will be named in Paris on Sunday, after the Springboks and All Blacks meet in the World Cup final at Stade de France in Paris on Saturday (9pm).
Aki had a superb tournament in France despite Ireland’s customary quarterfinal exit and led the attack stats through the pool phase, while scrumhalf Dupont, who won the award in 2021, could not lead his side to victory on home soil.
Lock Etzebeth will be a strong candidate with his powerful displays in the second row a feature of the Springboks’ form this year, but loose forward Savea has been outstanding too and a key player for the All Blacks.
The nominations for breakthrough player of the year include two New Zealanders in wing Mark Tele’a and prop Tamaiti Williams.
SA flyhalf Manie Libbok, who did not make his side’s match-day 23 for the World Cup final on Saturday, and French wing Louis Bielle-Biarrey are the other nominees.
Fiji’s Simon Raiwalui is in the running for coach of the year after leading his side to a World Cup quarterfinal and victory over England at Twickenham.
But it is likely the winner will be Andy Farrell (Ireland), Ian Foster (New Zealand) or Jacques Nienaber (SA).
The nominees for women’s player of the year, and several other categories, will be announced after the November 4 finish of the WXV tournament which is being staged in New Zealand.