LONDON – Eddie Jones and the Brave Blossoms were both nominated for awards by World Rugby on Thursday.
The sport’s governing body unveiled the shortlists for the Coach of the Year and Team of the Year accolades, with the winners to be announced on Sunday.
Joining Japan, which caused the biggest shock in the tournament’s history by beating South Africa on the opening weekend, as World Rugby Team of the Year 2015 nominees are Rugby World Cup 2015 finalists New Zealand and Australia, along with semifinalists Argentina.
Jones joins Steve Hansen (New Zealand), Michael Cheika (Australia) and Daniel Hourcade (Argentina) in being nominated for the World Rugby Coach of the Year 2015 award.
The nominees were selected by an independent panel, comprising Australia’s 1999 Rugby World Cup-winning captain John Eales (chairman), former Italy and South Africa coach Nick Mallett, former Argentina captain Agustin Pichot, Scott Hastings and his fellow Scot John Jeffrey, a World Rugby Council Member.
“Japan had waited 24 years for a second RWC victory but under Jones they won three matches in 2015, climbed to 10th in the World Rugby Rankings and narrowly missed out on a first-ever quarterfinal place,” World Rugby said in a press release.
“They earned a new army of fans not only at home with television audiences growing with every match to reach 25 million against Samoa, but also around the world, helping to transform the sport’s profile in Japan and create heroes for the next generation to look up to ahead of the country hosting the tournament in 2019.”
World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “Japan arrived at Rugby World Cup 2015 with great optimism and then shocked the world with their victory over South Africa. They backed that up with victories over Samoa and the United States and narrowly missed out on a quarterfinal place.”
Lapasset said all four teams won many admirers in 2015 and it would “not be an easy decision to pick just one to be crowned World Rugby Team of the Year.”
Of Jones and his fellow nominees, Lapasset said: “Through their leadership, these coaches have contributed greatly to a magnificent rugby year and whoever is named the World Rugby Coach of the Year will be deserving of that prestigious accolade.”
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