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Monday Nov 6, 2023

The Rugbydump 2023 World Cup Team of the Tournament

Choosing a team of the tournament was never going to be an easy task – that’s why we’ve taken a bit of time to sit back, check the stats, analyse the videos, and choose our team of the tournament.

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Let us know what you think:

Front rows

1: Ox Nche (Springboks)

One of the most technically gifted front rowers in world rugby, Nche was the primary catalyst behind South Africa’s reemergence from English dominance in their semi-final victory in Paris.

2: Peato Mauvaka (France)

It was only when Julien Marchand’s hamstring forced him to step back on the opening night of the World Cup that Mauvaka found himself in prime position for the number two shirt. He took it with both hands, and in doing so pulled off one of the finest performance of any player in the tournament when he took the Springboks to the cleaners in their quarter-final clash in Paris.

3: Dan Cole (England)

In 2019 the veteran prop was told by an entire country that he was past his prime after being dismantled by a strong South African pack in the World Cup final. Fast forward to four years later, Cole had his redemption by destroying a similar Springbok pack for the 56 minutes he was on the field. Should Cole and partner in crime Joe Marler have stayed on the pitch, then it could well have been England taking their place in the final and not South Africa.

Second Rows

4: Eben Etzebeth (Springboks)

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Arguably now established as one of the greatest second rows of all time, Etzebeth was dominant in every hit, every run, and every catch he made throughout the tournament. Refusing to leave anything less than 100% out on the field, he greatly deserved his World Player of the Year nomination.

5: Scott Barrett (All Blacks)

Breaking apart possibly the greatest lock combination of all time in Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock is not an easy task, so it takes a special kind of player to do so. The youngest Barrett brother has now established himself as the prime lock moving forward under Scott Robertson’s All Blacks.

Back Rows

6: Siya Kolisi (Springboks)

South Africa’s charismatic captain captivated the world with his post match speeches, but it was his inspiration prior to the matches and on the field that made the difference to those playing. Clearly able to talk the talk, his performances on the field proved that he could also walk the walk.

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7: Pieter-Steph Du Toit (Springboks)

28 tackles in a World Cup final. Not much more needs to be said. Probably the best flanker in the world currently.

8: Ardie Savea (All Blacks)

Deserved winner of the Men’s 15s World Player of the Year award. Dominant in every area of the game. Only noticeable mistake all tournament was the final knock on to give the Springboks the trophy. Otherwise, a faultless year.

Half Backs

9: Aaron Smith (All Blacks)

Almost pipped to this position by Antoine Dupont after his mesmeric quarter-final performance against South Africa, but Smith and his teammates reached the final, even if they did eventually suffer the same fate as the French. Smith’s passing and speed of ball was incredible all tournament and after a full career has signed out as New Zealand’s greatest ever scrum-half.

10: Matthieu Jalibert (France)

A late replacement for the injured Romaine Ntamack ahead of the World Cup, Jalibert proved once again why he used to be the first choice French fly-half. He was unflappable under pressure, attacked the line with menace, and defended hard. He has played himself back into first choice starting contention ahead of the return of Ntamack.

Centres

12: Bundee Aki (Ireland)

Ageing like a fine New Zealand wine. Would have been the player of the tournament if Ireland had progressed further than the quarter-finals.

13: Garry Ringrose (Ireland)

Has been a solid test player for many years now, but under Andy Farrell’s leadership he has become the player that held so much potential for many years. Intelligent in defence and elusive in attack, Ringrose has become the perfect 13.

Back Three

11: Damien Penaud (France)

Admittedly he ordinarily finds himself on the opposite wing, but it was impossible to leave this flying French machine out of the side.

14: Will Jordan (All Blacks)

Expected to move to fullback once Beauden Barrett retires or becomes surplus to requirements. Jordan should have broken the try scoring record, but for a held pass by Mo’unga in the semi-final. Could well become the All Blacks most prolific ever try scorer within the next few years.

15: Thomas Ramos (France)

Oozes class and calmness. Didn’t do anything spectacular in this tournament, just did everything better than his opposite man every single time.

Head Coach

Simon Raiwalui (Fiji)

It’s hard not to select the coach of the winning side, but as Fiji reached their first quarter final since 2007, beat Australia in the pool stage for the first time ever, and found themselves just 2 points away from a semi-final – there could be no other choice than Simon Raiwalui.

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