Three Springbok Rugby World Cup winners, Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis and Bryan Habana, were named in the World Rugby 15’s Team of the Decade as part of the World Rugby Awards Special Edition held on Monday evening.
There was also special recognition for Siya Kolisi and his Springbok colleagues for their fundraising efforts through the #StrongerTogether for R32-12 campaign, which raised more than R1 million for hunger alleviation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Rugby Awards Special Edition celebrated members of the rugby family who have provided outstanding service during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as players and teams who have starred over the last decade in a virtual show.
Instead of the traditional awards celebrating performances on the pitch in 2020, supporters had the opportunity to vote for their six favourite Players and Tries of the Decade Awards, with the World Rugby Awards’ star-studded panel given the difficult task of selecting two Teams of the Decade.
The Men’s Team of the Decade features a strong South African front row presence in Mtawarira, who retired from Test rugby after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and the experienced Du Plessis.
Habana, the Springboks’ most prolific try scorer during his international career which spanned 12 years, is the third South African named in the Team of the Decade.
Du Plessis and Habana were team mates when South Africa won the Rugby World Cup in 2007, while all three players were members of the Springboks’ 2-1 series win over the 2009 British & Irish Lions.
“On behalf of the entire South African rugby fraternity, I would like to congratulate all our Springboks who featured in the World Rugby Awards tonight,” said Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby.
“’Beast’, Bismarck and Bryan always gave everything they had for the Springbok jersey and were great ambassadors for our wonderful country. Their inclusion in the Team of the Decade is great reward for their consistently high level of performance in the green and gold.
“To Siya and the Boks of 2019, well done on a great effort to help raise funds for those less fortunate who were hit very hard because of the pandemic earlier this year – we are all very proud of your efforts.
“Congratulations to our other nominees too, from the Blitzboks and the Springboks, for always giving their all when representing South Africa on rugby fields around the globe.”
Every World Rugby Men’s and Women’s 15s Player of the Year recipient since 2010 were shortlisted for the World Rugby Men’s and Women’s 15s Player of the Decade, from three-time recipients Dan Carter and Richie McCaw to the Boks’ Pieter-Steph du Toit, and women’s players Emily Scarratt and Jessy Trémoulière.
The same was true for the World Rugby Men’s and Women’s Sevens Player of the Decade Awards with nine men and six women shortlisted, from two-time winners Perry Baker and Michaela Blyde to 2019 winners Jerry Tuwai and Ruby Tui. Blitzboks Cecil Africa, Seabelo Senatla and Werner Kok were also on the short-list.
Past winners of the International Rugby Players (IRP) Try of the Year from 2010 onwards were shortlisted for the International Rugby Players 15s Men’s Try of the Decade, while the women’s shortlist was selected by IRP and put to the public vote.
A total of 394,795 votes were cast by the public across the six categories during the voting window in October with rugby fans eager to have their say on who should claim the prestigious accolades for last decade.
New Zealand’s two-time Rugby World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw was named World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Decade in association with Tudor after seeing off competition from former team-mates Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Brodie Retallick and Beauden Barrett as well as Thierry Dusautoir (France), Johnny Sexton (Ireland) and Du Toit.
Fiji’s Jerry Tuwai was the winner of the World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of Decade Award, in association with HSBC, seeing off competition from the Blitzbok trio, Mikaele Pesamino, Tomasi Cama, Tim Mikkelson, Samisoni Viriviri and Perry Baker.
Jamie Heaslip’s try for Ireland against Italy in the 2016 Six Nations was voted International Rugby Players Men’s 15s Try of the Decade by fans after seeing off the competition from scores by Chris Ashton, Radike Samo, Habana, Beauden Barrett, Francois Hougaard, Julian Savea, Joaquín Tuculet, Brodie Retallick and TJ Perenara.
A total of six nations are represented in the World Rugby Men’s 15s Team of the Decade in association with Mastercard, selected by the star-studded panel with seven players from New Zealand, three from South Africa, two from Ireland and one each from Australia, Italy and Wales. The Team of the Decade boast a total of 1,637 Test caps between them.
Men’s team of the Decade (15-1)
Ben Smith (NZL); George North (WAL), Brian O’Driscoll (IRL), Ma’a Nonu (NZL), Bryan Habana (RSA); Dan Carter (NZL), Conor Murray (IRL); Sergio Parisse (ITA), Richie McCaw (NZL), David Pocock (AUS); Sam Whitelock (NZL), Brodie Retallick (NZL); Owen Franks (NZL), Bismarck du Plessis (RSA), Tendai Mtawarira (RSA)