Choices are based on impact made, quality of performances, points scored and influence in the team.
1. Tendai Mtawarira
‘The Beast’ lived up to his nickname throughout the Rugby World Cup, hitting hard (but fair) and dominating most scrums he took part in.
One of the pillars of the South African success but won’t get shouted about as much as those behind him.
2. Bongi Mbonambi
Another Springbok front row, and can you blame me? Their pack was awesome, returning to the success it once held.
The set piece was rock solid and it takes some form to keep Malcolm Marx out of the side. Mbonambi is that man.
3. Kyle Sinckler
Unfortunately he didn’t get his chance to show off his wares in the final, but his run prior to that seals his spot in the Rugby World Cup XV.
Epic in the set piece and offering England that gain line breaking ball carrier, Sinckler was one of the best players in the competition.
4. Alun Wyn Jones
The Welsh captain put one hell of a shift in, making 79 tackles throughout the competition – higher than any other man and joint second highest in RWC history.
The Welsh captain led his team with plenty of guts and was often their go to man when they were stuck in the mud and needed a boost.
5. Maro Itoje
Itoje has shown since arriving on the international scene and the World Cup was no different. Their ever-reliable lineout option as well as a carrying option, the Saracens lock has elevated to one of the world’s finest.
Carried superbly well and often disrupted the opposition breakdown.
6. Pieter-Steph du Toit
The newly crowned World Rugby Player of the Year and Springbok flanker has been a pain in the backside to everyone he’s faced this year.
Disrupting opposition ball, stealing turnovers and putting in some mammoth shifts in defence du Toit has been truly awesome. Also managed to grab a try in the All Blacks defeat.
7. Tom Curry
Curry was a key player in England’s run to the final. The disruption and stealing of the ball at each and every ruck a technical area of genius from the Sale man.
When England needed to dig deep this man stepped up to the plate and delivered. His powerful ball carrying ability also saw him tot up some fair yardage too.
8. Duane Vermeulen
Being able to bust through opposition defences whilst holding them back in defence are key characteristics for any international eight.
Vermeulen has these in spades and utilised them in the key moments, especially against Wales and England.
9. Faf de Klerk
South Africa’s livewire scrum half has a tendency to box kick far too often, as he did against Wales, but having rectified that in the final, was a vital cog in the engine of success.
His speed around the breakdown forces errors and pressure on to opposition forwards as well as their defensive line.
10. Handre Pollard
Pollard finished the campaign as the top points scorer and his boot and leadership were the two key areas he delivered in to push the Springboks to success.
Knowing when to mix up the kicking game and using his ball carriers was epic. He delivered sublime ball to his outside backs and centres and they ultimately punished the opposition because of it.
11. Cheslin Kolbe
Perhaps the most dangerous winger in the world, Kolbe shone once again on the world’s biggest platform for rugby.
Scoring tries and beating defenders for fun, he committed the extra man in defence, freeing up space for tis teammates. He was visibly missed in the semi-final.
12. Damian de Allende
de Allende has cemented his place as the best inside centre in world rugby. His powerful ball carrying has given the Springboks front foot ball and delivered tries as a result.
He mixes it up well between distributing the bal, wider and carrying up to the collision zone. His defence was also top notch.
13. Lukhanyo Am
His partnership with de Allende was a dream to watch. Gain line breaks, defenders beaten and points scored the perfect axis for Rassie Erasmus’ men.
His defensive work was vital in making South Africa’s defence the best at the Rugby World Cup.
14. Josh Adams
The Rugby World Cup top try scorer with seven tries to his name set a new Welsh record on his way to the feat. He was one of the most elusive runners at the competiton, beating six more defenders than the next nearest player.
His taste for try scoring has pushed him up to one of the best attacking wingers in the world.
15. Beauden Barrett
It wasn’t a vintage year for full back performances but Barrett just about stood out. A great pool stage run was slightly halted after a limited semi-final delivery.
However, his class shone throughout the rest of the knockout stages and he managed to surpass a few All Blacks legends in the try scoring department as he went.
- 16. Jamie George – Solid tournament and great around the park but struggled against South Africa.
- 17. Jefferson Poirot – The French loosehead had an epic RWC both in the scrum and around the park.
- 18. Frans Malherbe – A physical tighthead that dominated his opponents.
- 19. Scott Barrett – A great ball carrying option who also disrupts breakdown ball.
- 20. Sam Underhill – Powerful ball carrying and jackaller, gained England plenty of yards and turnovers.
- 21. Aaron Smith – Quick ball speed, but retains a carrying ability that keeps defences on his toes.
- 22. George Ford – Commanded the English attack strongly and gave a masterclass against New Zealand.
- 23. Makazole Mapimpi – Six tries scored and despite only covering one position merits this position based on his attacking potency.
The Coach of the Year has turned South Africa from a poor outfit on and off the field to the first side to win the Rugby World Cup after losing a game.
He’s also the first coach to win the Rugby Championship and World Cup in the same year.
“Main photo credit”