Who’s hot and who’s not: Springboks make it four, Ardie Savea’s award and Sam Cane’s unwanted record

David Skippers
Split with the Springboks lifting the Rugby World Cup and All Blacks captain Sam Cane.

Split with the Springboks lifting the Rugby World Cup and All Blacks captain Sam Cane.

It’s time for our Monday wrap of who has their name in lights and who is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons after the weekend.


Back-to-back for Boks: South Africa’s players and coaching staff deserve all the plaudits coming their way as they clinched a hard-fought 12-11 victory over arch rivals New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup Final at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday. The Springboks’ win was a momentous one as they became only the second nation to seal back-to-back World Cup titles – after the All Blacks also managed it in 2011 and 2015 – and their win means they’re the first team to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a record fourth time. Congratulations to all involved.

All-time performance from Pieter-Steph du Toit: While all South Africa’s players deserve plenty of credit for their contribution in that World Cup final triumph over New Zealand, Du Toit delivered an outstanding individual performance and was deservedly rewarded with the official Player of the Match award. Du Toit did what was expected of him on attack and in the lineouts but was like a man possessed when executing his defensive duties. He finished with a whopping 28 tackles made, which is the joint-highest by an individual player in a Rugby World Cup match. He joins Thierry Dusautoir, Taulupe Faletau and Jonny Gray, who all managed that feat at previous tournaments.

Ardie Savea claims top award: The ever-impressive All Black number eight was rewarded for his constantly brilliant performances for his country this season by being named World Rugby’s Men’s 15s Player of the Year. Throughout 2023 he has been a central figure for New Zealand and deserves the award beating Eben Etzebeth (South Africa), Bundee Aki (Ireland) and Antoine Dupont (France) to the prize.

Exeter Chiefs: The Rob Baxter-coached outfit delivered an outstanding all-round performance against Sale Sharks on Saturday as they cruised to a deserved 43-0 victory at their Sandy Park headquarters. As the scoreline suggests, the Chiefs dominated for long periods were rewarded with tries from Greg Fisilau, Dan Frost, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Niall Armstrong while they were also awarded a penalty try. Their other points came via the boot of Henry Slade, who contributed 11 points via four conversions and a penalty.


Sam Cane: The All Blacks skipper’s Rugby World Cup campaign ended in a horrible way when he was red carded during the opening half of his team’s Rugby World Cup final defeat to the Springboks. Cane initially received a yellow card from referee Wayne Barnes for his illegal hit on Jesse Kriel but it was later upgraded to red following a review by the bunker. His dismissal proved costly in the grand scheme of things as the Boks eventually clinched a narrow win and Cane has admitted that his indiscretion is something which he will “have to live with forever”.

Booing of Ben Youngs: It was supposed to be joyful occasion for the veteran scrum-half, who was coming off the pitch after playing in his final Test for his country. However, the actions of the French supporters in attendance at the Stade de France soured the moment as Youngs was booed and whistled when he was replaced by Danny Care in the 51st minute of the Red Rose’s 26-23 win over Argentina. Unfortunately, that was not an isolated incident as the rest of England’s players were also treated to hostility with the disgraceful behaviour starting before kick-off when the sides were announced. It was a similar story during the match when Owen Farrell was booed while lining up shots at goal.

Nations Championship voted through: Last week, World Rugby announced a new biennial international competition in men’s rugby – the controversial Nations Championship. The new tournament is set to get underway in 2026 and will feature a top division of 12 teams, comprised of the Six Nations, the four Rugby Championship sides and two more participants, likely to be Fiji and Japan. The decision is set to majorly shake up the international landscape, with many warning that the new competition will be the death of the sport, particularly for non-Six Nations and Rugby Championship sides. Although World Rugby have also announced a second-tier competition containing 12 more countries, the elite tournament will be ring-fenced until 2030 and there are concerns that these radical changes could hinder rising nations.

Bongi Mbonambi saga: The week of the Rugby World Cup final was disrupted by accusations from England flanker Tom Curry claiming Springboks hooker Bongi Mbonambi called him a “white c**t” during the World Cup semi-final. Investigations from World Rugby concluded  swiftly with insufficient evidence leaving the hooker to play the final. The saga took away from the build-up to the rugby’s biggest game.

Sharks and Scarlets: Although the United Rugby Championship is still in its early stages these sides have failed to get out of the starting blocks as both are winless after the first two rounds and without any points on the table. After losing their opener to Munster, the Sharks had another tough assignment against Leinster at the weekend and they came off second best again in a 34-13 defeat. Meanwhile, Scarlets have found the going tough against South African sides as they started the season with a 63-21 defeat to the Bulls before being comprehensively outplayed en route to a 52-7 loss against the Stormers in Stellenbosch on Saturday. Plenty of homework for John Plumtree and Dwayne Peel.

READ MORE: ‘Pathetic but yet hilarious’ – Fans react to Springboks’ World Rugby Awards snubs