TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT – The Springboks and Japan share this one. The Boks won the trophy but Japan won the hearts of every rugby supporter out there. They showed guts, determination and passion to beat Ireland and Scotland against all odds and qualify for the quarterfinals. They also played an exciting and entertaining brand of running rugby.
PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT – Cheslin Kolbe edges Kotaro Matsushima with his try in the final getting him over the line … so to speak! Matsushima was equally as brilliant throughout the tournament and certainly caught the eye.
BEST FANS – The Japanese fans were incredible. Who could forget the images and video of thousands of Japanese fans practicing Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika in the stands prior to the tournament? They showed great passion, enthusiasm and respect for all teams. There aren’t many who weren’t touched by the hospitality and character of the host nation.
MUPPET AWARD – World Rugby for their confusing directives to the referees regarding the dangerous tackle. Also for failing to make a contingency plan for the typhoon forcing the unprecedented cancellation of two games. The superb hosting of the event by the Japanese and also the thrilling action on the field masked their ineptitude.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TOURNAMENT – Kolbe rounding Owen Farrell to score the try that sealed the RWC for the Boks. Other highlights (of which there were many) included Matsushima scoring in the corner after the hooter to claim a vital bonus point for Japan vs Samoa; Japan blowing Scotland apart in the first half to set up a quarterfinal with the Boks; Japan holding on to beat Ireland; the All Blacks’ demolition of Ireland and England’s masterful performance vs the All Blacks.
BEST REF – Nigel Owens. Not sure how he missed out on Final selection … wait … I do … a French dominated selection panel!
CONGENIALITY AWARD – Schalk Brits for his all-round pleasant and respectful demeanour – reminding us all what its about. He even bowed to a ballboy when being handed a ball for a lineout – Scarra Ntubeni I hope you were watching.
BEST BARB – Eddie Jones fired several in trying to put as much pressure on the All Blacks ahead of their semifinal. “Put up your hand if you think we can win,” Jones said to reporters before adding: “There you go, so no one. No one thinks we can win. So there’s no pressure on us. The busiest bloke in Tokyo this week will be Gilbert Enoka, their mental skills coach. They have to deal with all this pressure of winning the World Cup three times and it is potentially the last game for their greatest coach and they will be thinking about those things,” he said.
WORST BARB – Eddie Jones again firing away unsympathetically at the Scots who were facing potential elimination at the hands of Typhoon Hagibis. “We’ve been talking about it all the time, about the possibility that this was going to happen… It’s typhoon season here and you’ve got to be prepared for it.” It’s really not something you can prepare for. The draw determines when you play your banker games and when you play your harder games. It’s not possible to prepare around that when games are cancelled. Eddie should have known better. You can imagine the uproar if the shoe had been on the other foot.
UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT – Most of the England team for refusing to wear their runner up medals.
BEST SPORTSMANSHIP – The All Blacks for picking themselves up from a shock defeat to England, not making any excuses and bouncing back to claim third place with pride.
EGG ON YOUR FACE AWARD – Former England scrum half Matt Dawson takes this hands down for picking a “combined” RWC final team prior to the big game that was comprised entirely of England players. What a clown!
PARDON ME MOMENT – Faf de Klerk shaking hands with Prince Harry while wearing nothing but a budgie smuggler in South African colours.
WING AND A PRAYER – South Africa lost two heroes from their 1995 World Cup winning team before the event – Chester Williams and James Small. It was fitting that the only two tries scored in the final were by the No. 11 and No. 14 (Mapimpi and Kolbe) … the same numbers worn by Williams and Small in the 1995 final.
RUGBY’S CINDERELLA MOMENT – Siya Kolisi lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy after growing up in poverty in Zwide. His favourite toy as a child was a brick and he watched the Springboks win the 2007 RWC in a tavern because his family couldn’t afford a TV. He is now a South African icon!