All four teams and their coaches that reached the Rugby World Cup 2019 semi-finals have all made the shortlists, along with host nation Japan who, under the guidance of Jamie Joseph, inspired a nation and captured hearts around the world on the way to a first ever quarter-final appearance.
The winners will be announced at the World Rugby Awards at The Prince Park Tower in Tokyo, Japan, on 3 November.
World Rugby Team of the Year shortlist
ENGLAND: A first Rugby World Cup final for 12 years has been secured the hard way after overcoming Australia and New Zealand in impressive fashion in consecutive matches, only the second team to beat both in the same tournament. England were runners-up in the Six Nations with Wales the only nation to beat them – twice – in 14 tests this year, a run of results that has helped take them back to the top of the World Rugby Men’s Rankings for the first time since June 2004.
JAPAN : The Brave Blossoms have captured the hearts and imagination of a nation with their up-tempo style of play and incredible heart helping them reach the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals for the first time at Japan 2019. Victories over Ireland and Scotland saw them briefly rise to a new high of sixth in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings in a year that also saw them win the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup title and lose only twice – to South Africa – in nine tests.
NEW ZEALAND: A 10-time recipient of this award, New Zealand extended their record-breaking winning run to 18 matches on the Rugby World Cup stage with impressive victories over South Africa and Ireland before England ended their hopes of a third successive title. The All Blacks have won seven of their 10 tests in 2019, relinquishing the Rugby Championship title and their number one ranking but retaining the Bledisloe Cup for a 17th successive year.
SOUTH AFRICA: The Rugby Championship winners are bidding to create Rugby World Cup history by becoming the first team to lift the Webb Ellis Cup after losing a match, against New Zealand in their Pool B opener. That loss, 23-13, is their only one of the year, having won nine and drawn the other of their 11 tests. The Springboks have risen to number two in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings for the first time in more than four years after reaching a first RWC final since 2007.
WALES: Warren Gatland’s final year in charge of Wales has been one to remember with the Six Nations Grand Slam secured, a first Rugby World Cup victory over Australia since 1987 and a rise to number one in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings for the first time in history. A first RWC final may have eluded Wales, but they can still match their best ever finish of third and end the year with 12 victories in 16 tests.
World Rugby Coach of the Year shortlist
RASSIE ERASMUS (SOUTH AFRICA): It might not have been Rassie Erasmus’ intention to become Springboks head coach when he returned to South Africa but he has taken to the role with aplomb. An astute tactician, he has bonded the team together impressively and been rewarded with results. This year South Africa have won the Rugby Championship title and recovered from a pool-stage defeat to the All Blacks to power into the Rugby World Cup 2019 final.
WARREN GATLAND (WALES): In his 12th and final year as Wales head coach, Warren Gatland has led his adopted nation to a Six Nations Grand Slam – the third of his reign, a first Rugby World Cup victory over Australia in 32 years and into the semi-finals of Japan 2019. Along the way Wales briefly topped the World Rugby Men’s Rankings for the first time. Injuries caught up with them in the last four against South Africa but that defeat does not detract from what has been a wonderful 12 months.
STEVE HANSEN (NEW ZEALAND): Another coach bowing out after RWC 2019, Steve Hansen – a four-time recipient of this award – has led New Zealand with distinction since succeeding Graham Henry following RWC 2011. This year, Hansen coached the All Blacks to a 17th successive Bledisloe Cup crown and impressive Rugby World Cup 2019 victories over both South Africa and Ireland before they ran into a formidable England performance in the semi-finals.
EDDIE JONES (ENGLAND): The recipient of this award in 2017, Eddie Jones urged his critics to judge him and his England team on Rugby World Cup 2019, and the Australian has proved true to his word. Signs of what was to come had appeared against Ireland in Dublin in February but it was in Japan that England came to the boil. Jones’ side swept into the RWC 2019 final with knockout wins over Australia and New Zealand – the first team to achieve that at a single tournament since South Africa lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 1995.
JAMIE JOSEPH (JAPAN): Hosts Japan made history during Rugby World Cup 2019 as they qualified for the quarter-finals for the first time, winning plaudits and new fans along the way. Jamie Joseph, their genial head coach, trusted in the skill of his players and the speed at which the Brave Blossoms played in victories against Ireland and Scotland will live long in the memory. Joseph also led Japan to a third World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup title, raising the level of expectation on the host nation.