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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 26 August, 2019

Here's The42's Team of the Rugby World Cup pool stage

We had to make some very hard calls.

FORTY GAMES DOWN, only eight to go.  Here’s our best XV of the Rugby World Cup (so far).

15. Japan’s Ayumu Goromaru

Second only to Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw in the tournament’s leading scorers column, Japan’s fullback played a big part in making the Brave Blossoms the surprise package of the tournament. A shame we won’t see him for the rest of the month.

unnamed-175 Source: World Rugby

 14. Argentina’s Santiago Cordero

The young winger has electric pace and that provided a serious outlet to an Argentina team who look like they just love to run the ball.


13. New Zealand’s Sonny Bill Williams

The reigning champions didn’t have to be at their best to top Pool C, but with Sonny Bill on the bench Steve Hansen always knows he has an incredible impact option.

His offloading in this tournament has been an absolute dream.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2015 - Pool C - New Zealand v Tonga - St James' Park Source: PA Wire/PA Images

12. Juan Martin Hernandez

It’s good to have him back. Now Ireland have the tough task to shut him down.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2015 - Pool C - Argentina v Namibia - Leicester City Stadium Source: Mike Egerton

Argentina have embraced their presence in the Rugby Championship so much that they are playing thrilling rugby with two brilliant distributors at 10 and 12. Hernandez’ return to form and fitness has been a huge part of the Pumas’ purist approach after their battle with New Zealand.

11. Canada’s DTH van der Merwe

A try in every pool fixture means only Julian Savea and Bryan Habana have grounded more tries than the former Glasgow winger in this tournament. A danger man who proved impossible to tie down, even in one of the tournament’s weaker sides.

Britain Rugby WCup Italy Canada Source: Alastair Grant

10. Australia’s Bernard Foley

Australia come let us rejoice, for ye are… the in-form team of the tournament.

Foley has been at the heart of the Wallabies whether they’re playing incisive running rugby, or battling it out in the trenches and picking off scores.

He can finish too.

foley 2 try

9. New Zealand’s Aaron Smith

We thought long and hard about this, because there have been a few good scrummies who didn’t manage to play consistently over the four games.

Fourie du Preez has the Springbok pack on a tight leash, Greig Laidlaw is the tournament’s top scorer, but when New Zealand have needed something extra, the best scrum-half in the world came up with the goods.

Britain Rugby WCup New Zealand Tonga Source: Jon Super

1. Australia’s Scott Sio

A weak point? Australia’s scrum has been the tournament’s best so far and loosehead Sio has been a cornerstone of the set-piece and a powerful carrying option in the loose.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2015 - Pool A - Australia v Uruguay - Villa Park Source: PA Wire/PA Images

2. South Africa’s Bismarck du Plessis

Though he did start the embarrassing loss to Japan, Du Plessis has been a key leader in the Springbok pack ever since. The hooker’s power in the scrum and accuracy in the line-out sets the tone for what is a wounded South Africa side with renewed focus.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2015 - Pool B - South Africa v USA - Olympic Stadium Source: PA Wire/PA Images

3. Fiji’s Manasa Saulo

Another star from a scrum we didn’t expect to be heralding. Fiji were the real casualties from the Pool of Death and would have come very close to advancing from any other group.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2015 - Pool A - Australia v Fiji - Millennium Stadium Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Saulo took Joe Marler to the cleaners and gave Gethin Jenkins an awful time to boot.

4. Ireland’s Iain Henderson

We try to keep our teams of the weeks and this team of the pool stage to starters, but men like Sonny Bill Williams and Sonny Bill Henderson just have too much impact to ignore.

fex hendo Source: World Rugby

Whether starting or pounding his way off the bench, Henderson was a force of nature for Ireland, even when nothing else seemed to be going their way.

5. Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones

While Warren Gatland’s backs were dropping like flies, the pack remained a rock solid platform for the remaining bodies to play from. Big Alun was instrumental in Wales’ two enormous showing at Twickenham and the central component of that maul defence that knocked England out.

Britain Rugby WCup Australia Wales Source: Alastair Grant

6. Georgia’s Mamuka Gorgodze

Guided his team to two wins and certainly three, maybe four terrific performances. His reaction to being named man of the match against the All Blacks was memory, but it was his incredible dominance in the opener against Tonga that put him on the right track.

Source: KizzoSportsHD/YouTube

7. Ireland’s Sean O’Brien

To be honest, we didn’t have O’Brien in the top three back-rows on Sunday morning, but 80 minutes changed everything. He was incredible against France, wreaking out and out havoc on blue ball and giving 19 huge carries to his side.

Britain Rugby WCup France Ireland Source: Alastair Grant

8. Australia’s David Pocock

No matter where Michael Cheika stations him, Pocock remains the game’s best breakdown specialist. He is ultra efficient in his clear-outs and it’s a serious job to move him once he’s on the jackal.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2015 - Pool A - Australia v Fiji - Millennium Stadium Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Here are the best bits from a memorable game between Australia and Wales

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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