Cape Town – South Africa dominate a list of five nominees in contention to be named The Rugby Union Writers’ Club personality of the year for 2019.
The Springboks are represented extensively following their success at autumn’s World Cup where a 32-12 victory over England in the Yokohama final claimed the Webb Ellis Trophy for a third time.
Inspirational skipper Siya Kolisi – South Africa’s first black Test captain – is among the nominees and he is joined by team-mate Faf De Klerk, the irrepressible Sale Sharks scrumhalf.
Also present is Rassie Erasmus, the mastermind of the Springboks’ Japan 2019 triumph despite only taking over as head coach in March 2018.
Erasmus also oversaw the nation’s fourth Rugby Championship crown and now acts as South Africa’s national director of rugby having relinquished his tracksuit duties.
Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, his country’s most capped player with 134 Test appearances, and Japan talisman Michael Leitch complete the five-strong list.
Leitch was at the helm as the Brave Blossoms reached the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time, the hosts counting Ireland and Scotland among their victims and playing a thrilling brand of rugby that captured imaginations.
The winner of the coveted Pat Marshall Memorial Award will be announced at the annual dinner of the RUWC in central London on January 13.
Greats of the game whose names have been engraved on the winners’ trophy in the past include Gareth Edwards, Bill Beaumont, David Campese, Jonah Lomu, Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson, Brian O’Driscoll and Dan Carter.
The current holder is Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton with Owen Farrell of England winning in 2017.