With the Rugby World Cup now over for another four years, it is time to look at back at the tournament and pick out the 15 players that have stood out in their position and those that would feature in our Rugby World Cup First XV.
With New Zealand winning the competition, their players feature quite heavily. We have, however, attempted to pick a variety of players. There have been some hard decisions to make as there have been some positions where 2 or 3 players have staked a claim and others where we have struggled to think of the stand out player.
This is our line up:
Loosehead Prop – Gethin Jenkins – Wales and Cardiff Blues – Adidas adiPure Flanker Boots
His memorable solo try against Namibia is the reason behind this selection along with this his solid performance at the scrum. Almost certainly in line for the Lions tour to Australia.
Hooker – Kevin Mealamu – New Zealand and Auckland Blues – Adidas adiPure Flanker Boots
His performance in the final may not be a memorable one but his performance throughout the tournament was highly impressive. Always lively around the field and enjoyed taking the ball in to contact.
Tighthead Prop – Soane Tonga’uiha – Tonga and Northampton Saints – Mizuno Wave Samurai 4 Boots
We felt we had to pick a Tongan player after their win over France and the Northampton man was our choice after his all-round performances during the group stages.
Second Row – Luke Charteris – Wales and Newport Gwent Dragons – Adidas adiPure Flanker Boots
His work on both attack and defence at the line-out has earned Charteris his spot in the team. His partnership with Alun Wyn Jones in the second row is now established and we expect it to continue for many years to come. He will now be looking forward to the Lions tour in two years time.
Second Row – Brad Thorn – New Zealand and Crusaders – Adidas adiPure Flanker Boots
Another players to be finishing his All Blacks career with a winners medal and one who thoroughly deserves it. He led from the front and helped the younger players around him. He will now move to Japan to finish his playing career.
Blindside Flanker – Jerome Kaino – New Zealand and Auckland Blues – Adidas R15 Boots
A close competition between French captain Thierry Dusautoir and Kaino. However, the New Zealander was consistent throughout the competition. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Kaino in 4 years time at the next World Cup.
Openside Flanker and Captain – Richie McCaw – New Zealand and Crusaders – Adidas R15 Boots
Sam Warburton, Sean O’Brien and David Pocock all had magnificent World Cups. However, the winning Captain had to be named in our team. His work at the breakdown and presence on the field is something to admire.
Number 8 – Toby Faletau – Wales and Newport Gwent Dragons –Under Armour Hydrastike Boots
It was the 20 year old’s first World Cup and it is sure not to be his last after impressing us all throughout the tournament. Australia’s Radike Samo was a close second.
Scrum Half – Piri Weepu – New Zealand and Hurricanes – Adidas Predator RX Boots
Took over the kicking duties for the All Blacks after Dan Carter got injured and was seen as a more reliable kicker than replacement fly half Colin Slade. He guided the team through to the final after going in to the tournament as the second choice number nine. He may have had an off day kicking in the final but a very successful tournament for the Wellington man.
Fly Half – James Arlidge – Japan and Nottingham – Nike Tiempo Legend Boots
Due to injury and lack of form, none of the well known 10’s stood out. Arlidge may have been playing for minnows Japan but wouldn’t have looked out of place playing for one of the bigger teams. Expect to see him playing at a higher level in the near future.
Left Wing – Francois Hougaard – South Africa and Blue Bulls – Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly Boots
Although he had limited game time, we were impressed with what Hougaard would bring to the South African team. His versatility as a scrum half or winger along with his pace will make him a key player for the Boks in years to come.
Inside Centre – Ma’a Nonu – New Zealand and Auckland Blues – Adidas adizero RS7 Boots
Currently the best inside centre in the world. His pace and power helped his side get on the front foot and even managed to bag himself a number of tries including one in the semi final against Australia. Some will say he is unlucky not to be named World Player of the Year after Thierry Dusatour picked up the prize.
Outside Centre – Adam Ashley-Cooper – Australia and NSW Waratahs – Nike Total 90 Laser Boots
This was a hard one with New Zealands Conrad Smith and England’s Manu Tualagi also standing out. However, Ashley-Cooper played throughout the back line and put his body on the line for his side.
Right Wing – Vincent Clerc – France and Toulouse – Nike Tiempo Legend IV Elite Boots
Clerc was always busy looking to get the ball in his hands during matches and this is what helped him be the joint top try scorer of the tournament with England’s Chris Ashton. A mention has to go to Wales George North who also had an outstanding.
Full Back – Israel Dagg – New Zealand and Crusaders – Adidas adizero RS7 Boots
An injury to Mils Muliana gave Dagg his chance in the side and he took it extremely well. His pace and keen eye for a gap helped his side to create a number of try scoring opportunities including a break in the semi final which lead to Ma’a Nonu’s try.