On last Saturday, South Africa won the Rugby World Cup for a record fourth time at Stade de France in Paris, but at a ceremony in the same city on Sunday Ireland head coach Andy Farrell was named as World Rugby’s coach of the year.
Jacques Nienaber, coach of the World Cup-winning Springboks, was also nominated alongside Ian Foster of New Zealand and Fijian boss Simon Raiwalui.
Nienaber’s South Africans managed to grind out one-point margins against hosts France in the quarterfinals (29-28), England in the semis (16-15), and then prevailed over three-times winners New Zealand by 12-11 on Saturday.
They additionally recorded three wins in the pool stage but their only loss was to Farrell’s Ireland, 13 to 8. The Irish lost 24-28 to New Zealand in the quarterfinal stage.
The English-born Farrell guided Ireland to a Six Nations and Grand Slam wins earlier in 2023.
"I am incredibly proud to work with such a talented and committed group,” Farrell, who was not present at the Paris ceremony. “This award is recognition for all those involved in Irish rugby and our incredible supporters who travel near and far to support us. I am honored to accept this award on their behalf."
While the World No. 1-ranked Ireland and the hosts France suffered the disappointment of losing at the quarterfinal stage, both had the highest number of playes, five apiece, on the World Rugby’s men’s dream team of year. Ireland’s five were: Bundee Aki, Dan Sheehan, Tahdg Furlong, Caelan Doris and Garry Ringrose were included in the team. Aki was named to the short list of four players for the player of the year award, which was won by New Zealand loose forward Ardie Savea.