The Rugby World Cup is over, and it all finished with the 2019 World Rugby awards in Tokyo on Sunday.
Here are the headline acts as arguably the greatest rugby tournament in history comes to an end.
The winners on rugby’s big night
South Africa were predictably the big winners on the night, with back rower Pieter-Steph du Toit crowned world player of the year.
Rassie Erasmus was named coach of the year, while the Springboks were awarded team of the year.
Wales’ Warren Gatland and Alun Wyn Jones had been nominated for the individual awards.
England’s Wayne Barnes was named referee of the year as he retires from the game.
English player Emily Scarratt won the women’s player of the year award.
You can see t he full list of winners here.
Nigel Owens’ praise for Barnes
Welsh referee Nigel Owens, who missed out on the chance to play a part in the Rugby World Cup final because of injury, has publicly spoken of his admiration for Wayne Barnes after he was named referee of the year.
He tweeted: “Huge congratulations to my long time friend and refereeing colleague on this well deserved award. A brilliant referee and an even better bloke. Well done my friend.”
New teams set to be added to Rugby World Cup
The Rugby World Cup could now be expanded with the addition of four new teams from 2027, according to the Telegraph.
World Rugby also hope the bidding process for the 2027 and 2031 tournaments, which begins next year, will include interest from the Americas.
The 2023 World Cup will be held in France and will consist of 20 teams, as was the case this year. But it’s hoped the game can be expanded in the future to help tier two teams become more competitive, although that could prove to be a challenging process.
World Rugby’s chief operating officer Alan Gilpin said: “There are a number of questions that come from moving to 24 teams. How do we get the next four teams competitive? There are challenges there, and we are working on the high-performance programmes across a number of unions.”
All Blacks’ gesture wins praise
The All Blacks are receiving huge plaudits in the southern hemisphere for the way they have responded to failing to win the tournament they were strong favourites for.
Following the Springboks’ sensational win over England in Saturday’s World Cup final, the All Blacks’ message of congratulations has sparked a big reaction on social media.
“Our fiercest rival on the field, but always a friend off it. Congratulations to @Springboks on winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Enjoy every moment,” the All Blacks’ official account tweeted.
It’s since been liked more than 35,000 times, with fans of both the Springboks and the All Blacks applauding the gesture and calling it “pure class” and in “great spirit”, the New Zealand Herald report.
Wales leave Japan with a special gesture
Wales are on their way back from Japan after boarding a plane on Sunday evening (UK time).
The team will arrive back on UK soil on Monday, but before they left, the WRU took out a classy two-page advert in a local newspaper to say thank you to the people of Kitakyushu.
That, of course, was the city that took Wales to their hearts, with 15,000 people turning up to watch them train and belting out the Welsh anthem for good measure.
It roughly translates to: “To all Kitakyushu citizens.
“Thank you for your hospitality. Over the two years of exchange it has become a very special place for us.
“Thank you, diolch. See you soon. We are looking forward to working with you in the near future. From the Welsh Rugby Union.”
Scotland misconduct sanction ‘imminent’
The BBC report Scotland are set to be sanctioned imminently over the row that tarnished the Rugby World Cup as Typhoon Hagibis raged.
SRU chief executive Mark Dodson angered World Rugby officials with his threat of legal action when it looked like the Scots’ final group match against Japan may be cancelled – a scenario that would have seen them dumped out of the competition without being able to complete their pool matches. The game was eventually played, with Japan winning 28-21.
The game’s governing body filed misconduct charges in the aftermath, which the SRU dispute.
The typhoon claimed the lives of 88 people and devastated parts of Japan.
Scotland today announced they will play Japan in next year’s autumn internationals.
This content was originally published here.