Rugby World Cup 2011
Three Boks earn RWC XV nod
Schalk Burger (AP)
Cape Town - Seven players from the World
Cup-winning All Blacks fittingly make the RWC XV chosen by Sport24 after the
conclusion of this year’s tournament.
VOTE: Rugby World Cup Team of the Tournament
GALLERY: Sport24 RWC Team of the Tournament
The combination, picked by a panel
comprising Tank Lanning (publisher/editor), Rob Houwing (chief writer) and
Garrin Lambley (managing editor), also includes three South Africans, despite
their controversial exit at the quarter-final stage at the hands of Australia:
hooker Bismarck du Plessis, flank Schalk Burger and lock Victor Matfield.
The remainder of the side comprises two
Welshmen, two Australians and a lone Frenchman: although the brave losing
finalists coming so close to upsetting the New Zealanders at Eden Park, we felt
their two prior defeats in the group phase counted against broader French
Please note that we have employed the South
African numbering system for the flanks; thus open-sider Richie McCaw, for
example, is given the No 6 jersey here.
15 Israel Dagg (NZ)
There was the distraction at the tournament
of veteran Mils Muliaina being awarded his 100th cap against
Argentina in the quarters, but then it was Dagg all the way again: the young
sorcerer was one of the standout new stars of this World Cup. He is considered
to have all the skills required of a top-tier fullback ... and proved it, over
and over again.
Next best: Pat Lambie (SA)
Cory Jane (NZ)
He’s a free spirit and not exactly averse
to a mid-tourney dram or two, either! But the Hurricanes flyer also tended to
be on best behaviour come RWC match-days, which must have served as redemption
in the eyes of hard taskmaster Graham Henry. Seemed to do everything at
exhilarating pace and with commendable purpose.
Next best: George North (Wal)
Adam Ashley-Cooper (Aus)
We had some problems getting to our choice
here: outside centre was one of the positions perhaps not blessed with an
abundance of obvious riches at RWC 2011. In the end the Wallabies’ “Mr
Dependable” – always a forceful runner -- cracked the nod, shading the likes of
Brian O’Driscoll and Conrad Smith.
Next best: Brian O’Driscoll (Ire)
Jamie Roberts (Wal)
While it is true that his great physical
attributes can make him seem a little one-dimensional at times, Roberts did
produce some immense performances in the Land of the Long White Cloud – with
none eclipsing the way he tore into the Irish like a man possessed in the
Next best: Ma’a Nonu (NZ)
Richard Kahui (NZ)
Fittingly, though unintentionally for
purposes of this exercise, the versatile Kahui completes an all-New Zealand
back three in this team – his positional play and soundness when tested by the
high bomb or chip-through was almost always out of the top drawer.
Next best: Shane Williams (Wal)
Dan Carter (NZ)
The tremor that went through New Zealand
when Carter got his freak training injury really summed up just what a core
component of the All Black game-plan “DC” is. He was playing with customary
flair, nous and unflappability until his setback – enough to remind the planet
he’s without equal at No10.
Next best: Rhys Priestland (Wal)
Mike Phillips (Wal)
Back at his best at this World Cup, amidst
a thriving Welsh team generally, the unusually imposing scrumhalf earns this
spot even with a bit to spare. Scored fine, instinctive tries against Ireland
in the quarter-final and France in the semi, too.
Next best: Piri Weepu (NZ)
Imanol Harinordoquy (Fra)
Truth be told, this remained a pretty
ordinary French side despite their presence in the final. But one man to look
consistently good for them was their lanky No 8: the 31-year-old was busy and
creative in open play and always a factor at the back of the lineout.
Next best: Toby Faletau (Wal)
Schalk Burger (SA)
A really close shave as the South African
gets the nod over New Zealand’s similarly impressive blind-sider Jerome Kaino:
Burger’s work-rate and zeal was simply immense from start to finish of the
Boks’ involvement in the tournament.
Next best: Jerome Kaino (NZ)
Few could begrudge this man lifting the
Webb Ellis Cup, could they? McCaw truly led from the front in the overdue All
Black success, and kept his mantle as best “pilferer” on the planet ...
especially after outplaying a key pretender to the crown, David Pocock, in the
Next best: David Pocock (Aus)
Victor Matfield (SA)
He may have missed out on the last two
tourney rounds, and perhaps a questionable pick given that he also missed two
games due to injury, but the Bok legend did more than enough in the lineouts
and kick-ins when on the park to sneak into our team.
Next best: Luke Charteris (Wal)
James Horwill (Aus)
A late call from Australian coach Robbie
Deans to install Horwill as captain of the canary yellows seemed to inspire the
man to performances not seen from him prior to RWC. Absolutely immense in the
Next best: Brad Thorn (NZ)
Owen Franks (NZ)
The “people’s choice” might be the hairy Italian
firebrand we have given an honourable mention to, but for an immovable object
with a spine cut from titanium and straighter than your headmaster’s cane, look
no further than the All Black tighthead.
Next best: Martin Castrogiovanni (Ita)
du Plessis (SA)
Perhaps a controversial selection in that
he started only one game, but on plain playing ability and more importantly the
ability to change the course of a match, the Springbok impact player had no
peer in the tournament.
Next best: Keven Mealamu (NZ)
Tony Woodcock (NZ)
Keeping Cantabrian Wyatt Crockett out of
the All Black side is one thing, putting in performances rendering him a Super
Rugby memory is extraordinary. His try in the final was the icing on a
perfectly baked scrumming cake!
Next best: Cian Healy (Ire)