World Cup team of the tournament
Right, here it is, what the world has been waiting for: the BBC Sport website's Rugby World Cup team of the tournament. Ten All Blacks, three Welshmen and two Frenchmen - and only one Englishman warrants an 'honourable mention', which tells its own story.
There were two basic provisos: players were picked on performances in the tournament rather than reputation and players could not be picked out of position. Therefore, no inside-centres playing 13 (that means you, Roberts) and no open-sides playing on the opposite flank (that means you, O'Brien). So, having rolled the grenades under the door, it is time to bid a hasty retreat and watch the flak fly from the safety of our office...
Full-back - Israel Dagg (NZ)
Dagg's part in Ma'a Nonu's semi-final try against Australia told you almost everything you needed to know about perhaps the tournament's most potent attacking weapon: coruscating pace, arrogance and daring, extra-sensory vision. I say 'almost' because the 23-year-old Crusader was unyielding under the Wallabies' aerial Blitzkrieg, too.
Dagg provided one of the event's defining moments in his side's semi-final win over Australia. Photo: Getty
Former England and Lions centre Jeremy Guscott: "Dagg is an incredibly gifted young rugby player who has all the skills - handling, passing, off-loading, a big boot, good under the high ball, speed, a side-step, a swerve. You name it, he's got it. The next superstar of New Zealand and world rugby."
Honourable mentions: Beale (Aus), Williams (Sam), Halfpenny (Wal)
Wings - George North (Wal), Cory Jane (NZ)
Perhaps the most exciting talent to emerge from Welsh rugby since the heady days of the 1970s, thrusting Scarlet North has got the lot: raw pace and power allied with gossamer hands, dancing feet and limitless ambition. And he's only 19 - truly frightening.
North is one of the most exciting backs to emerge from Wales since the 1970s. Photo: Getty
Jane has had a wild old ride this year - dismal for the Hurricanes in the Super 15, redemption in the Tri-Nations, brilliant in the pool stages of the World Cup, boozy in Takapuna, more redemption against Argentina, outrageously good against Australia. An integral component of the most devastating back three in the tournament.
Honourable mentions: O'Connor (Aus), Clerc (Fra), Kahui (NZ), Ioane (Aus)
Outside-centre - Conrad Smith (NZ)
In a World Cup not blessed with stand-out 13s, Smith's neatness and functionality shone through. A fine defender and organiser and also an attacking threat in his own right, but his most valuable asset is his ability to bring out the best in the attacking threats around him.
Honourable mentions: Emerick (US), Tuilagi (Eng), O'Driscoll (Ire)
Inside-centre - Ma'a Nonu (NZ)
Coming into the tournament there were those in New Zealand suggesting Nonu's best days were behind him. Not so. Still a rampaging weapon with ball in hands, frequently breaks the line and his improved distribution and kicking mean he might actually be better than ever.
JG: "Nonu is power combined with aggression and really does intimidate opponents. Jamie Roberts is getting there but he hasn't started to link or off-load quite as well as Nonu."
Honourable mentions: Roberts (Wal), Fuimaono-Sapolu (Sam), De Villiers (SA)
Fly-half - Dan Carter (NZ)
Before his tournament was cruelly cut short by injury, Carter did enough to prove there is still no other number 10 in world rugby who comes close to his genius. The panic that spread through New Zealand following his injury told you just how great a player he is.
Dan Carter dazzled in the pool stages before injury cruelly cut his World Cup short. Photo: PA
JG: "Carter stands close to the gain line in the face of the defence and has every skill imaginable. Deceptively quick, very good at showing the ball, dummies left and right and has the ability to ghost between defenders. Plus, great defence."
Honourable mentions: M Steyn (SA), Priestland (Wal), Pisi (Sam)
Scrum-half: Mike Phillips (Wal)
His finish in the quarter-final victory over Ireland - spotting a gap on the short side, darting, arcing towards the try-line and touching down in mid-air - was glorious. The man who makes Wales tick in attack, he also brings a heightened physicality to the number nine position.
JG: "Back to his best, the tries against Ireland and France were top drawer. He had the basics covered: get to the breakdown and get rid of the ball to your half-back partner. You keep doing that and eventually the defenders forget about you and you can make your breaks."
Honourable mentions: Genia (Aus), Fotuali'i (Sam), Yachvili (Fra)
Loose-head prop - Tony Woodcock (NZ)
Ireland's Cian Healy looked to be the main man at loose-head until he was given a rough ride against Wales, while gnarled veteran Woodcock has been solid throughout. Played an integral part in the demolition of Australia's pack in their semi-final and scored New Zealand's only try in the final.
Veteran prop Tony Woodock was a rock-solid presence in the All Blacks front-row. Photo: Getty
Russia coach and former Wales captain Kingsley Jones: "Woodcock's return to the All Blacks side was a timely boost, they're not the same side without him. He was one of the big differences in their win over France in the group stages and had a key part to play in the final."
Honourable mentions: Healy (Ire), Jenkins (Wal), Steenkamp (SA)
Hooker - Keven Mealamu (NZ)
Some will argue that William Servat's mastery of the line-out and scrummaging nous should have earned him the nod, but Mealamu, despite some shaky moments in the final, offers more as an attacking force. A furious competitor in the tight exchanges, a handful with the ball in his mitts and a nailed-on All Blacks great.
KJ: "Mealamu is not your stereotypical hooker, he brings so much more in open play. You'll often see him acting as half-back at the breakdown, picking and going, and he brings a lot of dynamism to the All Blacks team, a lot of go-forward."
Honourable mentions: Servat (Fra), B du Plessis (SA), Tincu (Rom)
Tight-head prop - Nicolas Mas (Fra)
One word you would not use to describe France's progress through the tournament is 'solid', but that is exactly how you would describe Mas. A ferocious scrummager, he was sorely missed against New Zealand first time round and shaded Woodcock in the final.
Honourable mentions: A Jones (Wal), O Franks (NZ), Castrogiovanni (Ita)
Second-rows: Luke Charteris (Wal), Brad Thorn (NZ)
Dragons lock Charteris barely put a foot wrong in New Zealand - solid at the set-piece, brutal in the tackle, showed well in the loose, fronted up against the hard men of South Africa, Ireland and France. South Africa's Dannie Rossouw was a contender, but Charteris is the perfect complement for Brad Thorn. On current form, a shoo-in for the British and Irish Lions.
Wales lock Luke Charteris was perhaps the most improved player at the World Cup. Photo: Getty
Thorn is enforcer-in-chief of the All Blacks pack and a classic number four - tough as teak, carries well, tackles like a demon, hits rucks hard and superlative in the line-out. All this and now the oldest ever winner of a World Cup.
KJ: "The tackles Charteris is making, the rucks that he's hitting, it's amazing from where he's come from. He's doesn't make any errors and he's probably the most improved player at the World Cup and Wales' stand-out player of the tournament."
Honourable mentions: Nallet (Fra), Matfield (SA), Rossouw (SA), O'Connell (Ire)
Blind-side flanker: Jerome Kaino (NZ)
In New Zealand there was a joke doing the rounds that Superman reads Jerome Kaino comics. Pretty much the complete number six - devastating in the tackle, causes havoc with ball in hands and arguably the most valuable player of the World Cup.
KJ: "He just gets through so much work in the game, a lot of it unseen. He carries the hard yards, does all the dirty work and puts in the odd big tackle. If there was a job description of a blind-side flanker, it would describe Jerome Kaino, he's a fantastic player."
Honourable mentions: Lydiate (Wal), Burger (SA), Ferris (Ire)
Open-side flanker: Richie McCaw (NZ, Captain)
If the 2011 World Cup will be remembered for the quality of its open-sides, it will also be remembered as the tournament when All Blacks skipper McCaw showed he was still number one. Warburton of Wales was consistently outstanding, Pocock of Australia gave perhaps the individual performance of the tournament against South Africa, Dusautoir of France was immense in the final - but McCaw, despite carrying an injury, was still the daddy.
Honourable mentions: Warburton (Wal), Pocock (Aus), Brussow (SA), O'Brien (Ire), Dusautoir (Fra)
Number eight: Imanol Harinordoquy (Fra)
Imanol Harinordoquy was a towering presence for France in the knockout stages. Photo: Getty
Harinordoquy barely made a dent in the pool stages but was masterful when recalled for the quarter-final against the hated English. In the final, the Biarritz man mountain was immense at the line-out and colossal in the contact area and, along with skipper Dusautoir, very nearly dragged his side to an improbable victory.
Honourable mentions: Read (NZ), Faletau (Wal), Parisse (Ita)