JOHANNESBURG, Rugby World Cup champions South Africa have been nominated for the Laureus World Team of the Year accolade at the 20th anniversary Laureus World Sports Awards.

South Africa, who won the Team of the Year Award in 2008 after their Rugby World Cup glory in 2007, face tough competition from Jurgen Klopp’s Uefa Champions League winning Liverpool FC, the U.S. Women’s Football Team, the winners of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, six-time Formula 1 world champions Mercedes-AMG Petronas, the first Canadian team to win the NBA Championship Toronto Raptors and two-time FIBA World Cup winners the Spain Men’s Basketball Team.

Led by inspirational captain and South Africa’s first black Test captain Siya Kolisi, South Africa beat England 32-12 in Tokyo to win their third Rugby World Cup after triumphs in 2007 and 1995. The win and the resulting celebrations throughout South Africa highlighted the power of sport to unite and inspire a nation.

Schalk Brits, who returned from retirement to represent the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup, said: You have to remember when we went into the Rugby World Cup we were only ranked fifth or sixth, but as the competition proceeded we really got together as a team and we realised how we could unite the country. It became a bigger cause than just winning a competition. To be nominated for this Award is unbelievable.

Laureus Academy Chairman and All Blacks legend Sean Fitzpatrick, said: One could not have predicted the immense impact that South Africa’s win of the Rugby World Cup had around the world. With their victory inspiring the hearts of so many, uniting a multitude of communities, we see once again the exceptionally unique power of sport to unite.

It seems only fitting that the Laureus theme for the 2020 Awards Ceremony is ‘Sport Unites Us’. If I wanted to identify a figure that symbolises the unity that sport has brought about in 2019, Siya Kolisi, the first black Test captain of South Africa, comes straight to mind.

I greatly admire the way Kolisi led his team and how he has transcended his leadership role within rugby to become a leader and a role model for his entire country. I am not alone in applauding the whole team for the passion, determination and commitment they have shown.

Source: African News Agency