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It could be argued that the Springboks faced tougher opposition in winning the Laureus Team of the Year Award in Berlin on Monday night than they did in winning the Rugby World Cup in Japan. At the prestigious Laureus Awards, the so-called Oscars of the sports world, the Boks were up against two other teams that had won World Cups (the American Women Football team and the Spanish Basketball team) as well as Mercedes-Benz, Formula One’s Constructors’ title winners and the Toronto Raptors, the first Canadian team to win the American-dominated NBA. All of these teams had a great back story, but the tale of Siya Kolisi and his team of unfancied rugby players who defied the odds after losing to New Zealand and overpowered England to lift the Webb Ellis Cup proved to be the most compelling. Everything is going right for SA Rugby right now. They dominated the World Rugby Awards late last year. Their sponsors are falling over themselves to renew their contracts. FlySafair has signed on for another four years as their Springbok marketing campaign has resulted in fantastic exposure. After just six years, FlySafair is now the country’s biggest low-cost domestic carrier and has ambitious expansion plans to fill the void as SAA cancels a number of unprofitable domestic routes. Who wouldn’t want to be associated with the Springboks on a commercial basis right now, especially with the mouth-watering prospect of a British and Irish Lions tour looming next year and the enormous media hype that will generate? – David O’Sullivan
The Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok team of 2019 added another fantastic award to their impressive list of recent accolades when they scooped the prestigious Laureus Team of the Year Award in Berlin on Monday evening.
The South African national rugby team pipped an illustrious list of top international sporting teams to lift the award in the German capital. It’s the second time the Springboks have won the Laureus accolade – the team that lifted the 2007 Rugby World Cup were awarded the prize in early 2008.
“To see the joy in kids faces back at home is exactly what we wanted to achieve and we hope it doesn’t end here.”
“The Mandela spirit is always around.”
— Laureus (@LaureusSport) February 17, 2020
English football giants Liverpool were also in the running after clinching the Champions League crown, as well as the US Women’s Football Team (Women’s World Cup winners), Mercedes-AMG Petronas (for winning the Formula One constructors’ title), the Toronto Raptors (first Canadian team to claim the NBA Championship) and the Spanish Men’s Basketball team (World Cup winners).
The memory of Siya Kolisi lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in Yokohama last November was an iconic moment in sport and the audience in the Verti Halle in Berlin applauded the emotional moment when Kolisi led six of the team members on stage to receive the Laureus Statuette.
The team’s victory united communities in South Africa and was proof of sport’s ability to change the world.
With Rassie Erasmus at the coaching helm and Kolisi’s inspirational captaincy, the Springboks won the 2019 RWC title convincingly and also cleaned up at the World Rugby Awards in Japan shortly thereafter.
“We are absolutely bursting with pride and would like to congratulate Rassie, Siya and the Springbok team, as well as the management for receiving this fantastic award,” said SA Rugby President Mr Mark Alexander.
“They were so heroic on the field and through their excellent off-field conduct, they were true examples of excellent South African ambassadors.
“Our country can be very proud of this team and what they have accomplished in such a short space of time. They made an amazing turn-around to establish the Springboks once more as a major force in world sport.
“On behalf of SA Rugby, I would like to congratulate the entire Springbok team and management on this fantastic accomplishment. We saw how powerful a successful Springbok team can be, uniting South Africans from all walks of life, and we are immensely proud of their achievements.”
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