Rugby World Cup 2011

Three Boks earn RWC XV nod

2011-10-24 15:15
Schalk Burger (AP)

Sport24 staff

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.

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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 involvement.

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)

14 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)

13 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)

12 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 quarter-final!

Next best: Ma’a Nonu (NZ)

11 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)

10 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)

9 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)

8 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)

7 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)

6 Richie McCaw (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 semi-final.

Next best: David Pocock (Aus)

5 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)

4 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 tight-loose.

Next best: Brad Thorn (NZ)

3 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)

2 Bismarck 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)

1 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)


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