/ 27 February 2024

Springboks, Kolisi nominated for Laureus sports awards

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Siya Kolisi during the Springboks' Champions Trophy Tour in East London, on November 5, 2023, after South Africa won the France 2023 Rugby World Cup final match against New Zealand. (Photo by WIKUS DE WET / AFP)

The Springboks rugby team and their captain, Siya Kolisi, have been nominated for the prestigious 2024 Laureus sports awards, considered the Oscars of the sporting world.

The team won back-to-back Rugby World Cup titles after securing the number one place in France last year with a 12-11 win over the New Zealand All Blacks at the Stade de France.

The team previously won Laureus awards for their Rugby World Cup wins in 2007 and 2019.

This year, the Springboks were again nominated in the World Team of the Year category alongside teams from the European Ryder Cup, Germany’s men’s basketball, Manchester City men’s football, Oracle Red Bull Racing, and the Spanish women’s football team.

Kolisi was nominated in the World Comeback of the Year category, for returning to the field “just 119 days after sustaining a partial tear of his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and captained the Springboks to victory at the Rugby World Cup”.

Kolisi called the nominations “overwhelming”.

“I know just what it means to win a Laureus Award. I was lucky enough to be captain of the Springboks in 2019 when we won the World Cup, and as a result the following year we won Laureus Team of the Year. I’m hoping we can win it again, as always it is a formidable group of teams nominated this year, including Manchester City, Spain’s Women’s World Cup winners and Oracle Red Bull Racing. It was a close thing whether I would recover from injury in time to play in the Rugby World Cup. I made it, so it’s a very special personal moment for me to receive my nomination.”

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said: “The Springboks deserve every ounce of recognition they receive for their massive accomplishment in France last year, and we are delighted to see them in line for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award.

“Their heroics on and off the field were remarkable, especially considering their tough road to the World Cup final.

“But the victory in France was more than just an 80 minute rugby match – it was a triumph for South Africa both in nation building and social cohesion, and we hope that the effects of the Boks’ success will continue to radiate through the sport and transfer to other sporting codes for years to come.”

Alexander also praised Kolisi’s comeback from the knee injury, which many thought may have ruled out his chances of playing in the world cup.

“Siya’s hard work and determination to recover for the World Cup, and the fact that he managed to achieve this feat beyond all doubts was special,” said Alexander.

“It takes a warrior to do something so remarkable, and that journey made it even more extraordinary to see him lift the cup for the second time in a row.

“We are extremely proud of the Springboks and Siya, and we wish them luck for the awards ceremony.”

South African sailor Kirsten Neuschäfer was nominated in the World Action Sportsperson of The Year category, for becoming the first woman to win the Golden Globe Race, a solo round-the-world event, in which she also performed a rescue.

Kirsten Neuschäfer.

The race is “a retro adventure in which entrants compete using boats with technology only available in 1968, relying on manual celestial navigation, without the use of modern electronic equipment such as cell phones, autopilot, radar or satellite communications.”

During the race, Neuschäfer rescued fellow entrant Tapio Lehtinen after his boat sank and he spent 24 hours adrift in the southern Indian Ocean.

The final South African nominee is Cape Town-based human rights NPO, Justice Desk Africa, in Laureus’ Sport for Good category. Justice Desk Africa works throughout the continent and has received international recognition for its empowering of young boys without father figures, young girls who are survivors of rape and gender-based violence, and the elderly, sick and abandoned. The organisation’s Youth Ambassadors Project runs in over 20 schools and has over 400 youth ambassador, who defend human rights across Africa.

Nominations were announced at the Casa de Correos in Madrid on Monday. The awards ceremony will take place on 22 April in the same city.


Launched in 2000, former South African president Nelson Mandela was the first Laureus patron.

During his speech at the inaugural awards, Mandela said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.” 

Laureus has said that Mandela’s words have become the philosophy of its Sport for Good category, and the driving force behind its work.

In the World Sportsman of the Year Award, 2023 winner Lionel Messi was again nominated “after a year in which he won a record eighth Ballon d’Or and led Inter Miami CF to victory in the Leagues Cup – his 44th trophy, another record”.

Messi was nominated alongside tennis superstar Novak Djokovic (four-time Laureus winner), multiple Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen (2022 Laureus winner), Swedish-American pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis, American sprinter Noah Lyles and Norwegian striker Erling Haaland of Manchester City.

In the World Sportswoman of the Year award, the nominees are Spanish footballer Aita Bonmati, Jamaican runner Shericka Jackson, Kenyan long-distance runner Faith Kipyegon, American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, American Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin, and Polish tennis star Iga Swaitek.