Du Toit, Scarratt take World Rugby gongs

Jack Tarrant
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The World Rugby Awards 2019

South Africa's Steph Du Toit (L) and England's Emily Scarratt have been named players of the year

South Africa flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit and England centre Emily Scarratt have been named men's and women's World Rugby players of the year at a glitzy ceremony in Tokyo.

Du Toit was a colossus for the Springboks during the World Cup and dominated the breakdown during the final win over England, helping South Africa secure seven turnovers and proving a menace for the English throughout the match.

He also made 11 tackles and set up fellow player of the year nominee Cheslin Kolbe for the decisive final try in the 32-12 win.

"This is probably one of the best moments of my life," said Du Toit.

"I think it is the two biggest experiences in the rugby world that you can get. It is as unbelievable experience for me and I couldn't be happier at the moment."

Du Toit became the third Springbok to land the award after Schalk Burger and Bryan Habana.

The other nominations were Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, England flanker Tom Curry, Springboks wing Cheslin Kolbe, New Zealand flanker Ardie Savea and USA forward Joe Taufete'e.

Meanwhile, 29-year-old Scarratt joined former England colleagues Maggie Alphonsi and Sarah Hunter in winning the women's gong.

"It's mad," Scarratt said.

"At the start of the season, I was still playing sevens, so I have come back to 15s and got my teeth back into it."

The shortlist also included fellow England internationals Katy Daley-McLean and Sarah Bern, New Zealand's Kendra Cocksedge and France's Pauline Bourdon.

A keenly-contested coach of the year award went to Rassie Erasmus, who masterminded the World Cup triumph, with his Springboks side named team of the year.

When he took over in March 2018, South Africa were ranked seventh in the world but they have returned to their traditional forwards-based game with extraordinary results.

"This has been a long journey to keep believing and trusting and not getting frustrated with each other, keeping the belief going," Erasmus said.

"For me, it is significant that, no matter what, the boys always kept South Africa above their own interests, above their own egos and always kept the Springboks and South Africa's interests up there."

Erasmus prevailed in a category that saw England's Eddie Jones, Wales boss Warren Gatland, Japan's Jamie Joseph and New Zealand's Steve Hansen nominated.

England, Wales, Japan and New Zealand also received nominations in the team category, but the Springboks' latest triumph was recognised as captain Siya Kolisi received the award from World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot.

"I think it is probably going to sink in when we get home and see how people are back at home," said Kolisi.

"They have really been driving us, they have been behind us. I think coach said it earlier - they have been a huge part of our success as a team and we are looking forward to going back home and celebrating with them."