What a weekend right? The two greatest sides in history went to battle in Paris on Saturday night and what a battle it was. Both the Springboks and the All Blacks had 3 titles each, this was the tie breaker we had all been waiting for. For it to come down to a single point victory just proves how tough a fight it was on a soaked Stade de France pitch in Saint Denis. Much to the dismay of the governing body, the two Southern powerhouses left no room for the North.
Its been a whirlwind of celebrations back in SA since then. Guys are walking around the airports on Paris and Dubai still in their Bok jerseys. Walking past one another with a simple nod and holding up 4 fingers. We know the value of what our boys achieved in Paris, even if the sports governing body can't bring themselves to acknowledge it.
I woke up in Dubai this morning, on my way back to SA, to see that the World Rugby awards had been dished out. I am surely not the only one who had raised eyebrows at most of them. So I wanted to take a look at how World Rugby came to their decision, especially on coach of the year.
Lets start with Coach of the year. This went to Andy Farrell which is an absolute joke. Yes, Ireland won the 6 Nations, this seems to be the World Cup for the Northern Hemisphere. He could not however guide his team through a quarter-final and Ireland exited their 8th World Cup in a row at this stage. Remember too that this is a yearly award so you can't take into account their series win in New Zealand last year or any of that. Of the coaches nominated, Farrell by far had the easiest job. He presided over players from a single competition (URC) who all play in a single system in Ireland. He had the same coaching staff right through the last 4 years, he had momentum and still got knocked out in the quarters.
Looking at the other candidates, you have to wonder how. Ian Foster for example was under immense pressure last year to turn things around. There was a coaching shake up, his side was written off for the tournament and yet he still showed the coaching fortitude to guide them to a final, and they only lost by a single point. Fozzie went through the group stages with a number of top players carrying injuries, got them primed for the play-offs and then sent Andy Farrell's Worlds Number 1 side packing.
You have Jacques Nienaber who coached his squad, coming from at least 6 different countries and playing systems. They were also written off by the media and yet he got them aligned and WON BACK TO BACK WORLD CUPS. Yet here we are he too was overlooked in favor of a 6 Nations winner. I can understand many would argue that Jacques was overlooked as a result of Rassie's influence but the only person he should have truly been fighting it out with was Fozzie and a World Cup victory should surely have tipped it in his favor.
Even Simon Raiwalui of Fiji could have been a better candidate. He achieved exactly what Ireland did, with only 15 games in the last 4 years to do so, less than half the budget and a squad that was pulled together from almost every rugby playing country out there.
Its okay though, Ireland can have their consolation prize, we have bigger things to celebrate back home and the All Blacks will also know they should have been in with a shout for this one. Thank you Jacques, you have made 60 million South Africans proud and given us four more years of celebrating.