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World Cup team of the tournament

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Ben Dirs | 13:30 UK time, Sunday, 23 October 2011

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...

NB. While Jeremy Guscott and Kingsley Jones have kindly provided us with player comments, it should be pointed out that this team was not picked by them but by the BBC Sport website rugby team.

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.

Isreal Dagg

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.

George North

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

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.

Tony Woodcock

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.

Luke Charteris

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

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)

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  • Comment number 1.

    Can't agree with that. Surely

    James, Smit, Murray, Deacon, Kellock, Bergamasco, Moody, Easter, Reddan, Parra, Danielli, Tindall, SBW, Patterson, Byrne

    is the standout team

  • Comment number 2.

    Are you aware that this is the world cup, not the six nations?
    Although he has included a couple of extra new zealanders who i'd consider bit parts, this team is generally solid.
    However, for me Genia needs to come in for Phillips and one of the centres would have to go i favour of Tuilagi.

  • Comment number 3.

    Dagg, Jane, Smith, Nonu, Williams, Carter, Phillips, Woodcock, Bennett, Adam Jones, Charteris, Thorn, Kaino, McCaw, Reid

  • Comment number 4.

    Hmmm... i'd have Clerc and Jane on the wings, Bosch at 12, Trinh Duc and Genia as the half backs and include Nallet...

  • Comment number 5.

    O Franks, Mealamu, A Jones, Horwill, Nallet, Kaino, Warburton, Stowers, Phillips, B Barnes, Ashley-Cooper, Nonu, Roberts, North, Dagg. Hon. mentions: Gorgodze, Tincu, Dusautoir (brilliant performance in the final.). You should not have overlooked Ashley-Cooper (who has played in all but two positions in the back-line very well).

    Also what did Berwicdk Barnes have to do to play at 10!! He was awesome. McCaw was completely outplayed by Dusautoir and was edged out by Pocock in the semi-final, he was also injured for virtually the whole tournament. Furthermore, O Franks statistics in the loose are very impressive. He also scrummaged very well.

  • Comment number 6.

    @Silk. lol :)

  • Comment number 7.

    Hahahahaha. Ditto. @Silk; you re funny.

  • Comment number 8.

    Were you drunk when you came up with this team or just lost any sense of reality?

  • Comment number 9.

    re silk- moody and easter? you are having a laugh right? they have to be up there with the third teir players for effectivness. did easter even go forward in this campaign?over the hill and long past it.

  • Comment number 10.

    Silk - I don't know what you're taking, but can I have some?

  • Comment number 11.

    "re silk- moody and easter? you are having a laugh right?"

    No, you're right. Replace them with Bonnaire and Vernon if you fancy.

  • Comment number 12.

    Seriously did you just not know who to put in so you went for the AB option? I know they won the tournament but a few of the selections don't really add up.

    Carter played about 2 games, and whilst he is an awesome fly-half shouldn't be in a team of the tournament! Preistland's performances were excellent until injury ruled him out of the semi.

    Mccaw at 7 I can see why you would pick him on the evidence of the Semi or Final but the tournament was 6 weeks long not 10 days, has to be Warburton for the consistantly excellent performances or Pocock who's performance against SA (whilst not completely legal) was top class.

    As for the Centres Nonu is understandable (Although I would have gone with Roberts) but Conrad Smith didn't exactly set the world on fire, Personally I would have gone with Tuilagi, O'driscoll or Rougerie who in the knockout stages was fantastic.

    Personally I would also like to see a team of the Tournament from the 'Tier 2' nations, as they played an important role in the RWC as a whole and shouldn't ve forgotten after the pool stages (I see a few get honorable mentions).

  • Comment number 13.

    It really is a very juvenile world team, just playing it safe picking New Zealanders and big names all of the time.

    Giving Nallet an 'Honourable mention,' he was up there in my 'turkeys of the tournament' until yesterday. Also Cian Healy, if he did anything it must have been while the kettle was boiling.

    McCraw and carter have been the world's best players for the last 10 years but not this month, Pocock is the new man at 7, everyone can see that, Carter played 3 matches against mostly modest opposition.

    How about, Jenkins, Servat, Mas, Thorn, Horwell , Kaino, Harinordiquay, Pocock, Genia, Priestland, O'connor, Nonu, Tuilagi, Madar, Dagg.

    Honourable mentions, Every New Zealander not picked.

  • Comment number 14.

    Roberts instead of Nonu and anybody from Pockok, Dusatoir and Warburton instead of McCaw.

  • Comment number 15.

    15. Halfpenny 14. Jane 13.Rougerie 12. Nonu 11. A.Tuilagi 10. Carter 9. Weepu 8. Harinordoquy 7. Pocock 6. Kaino 5. Charteris 4. Horwill 3. Mas 2. Mealamu 1. Woodcock

    Kaino was easily the best player in the whole tournament. He had a good Super 15 season, but not quite on par with his RWC otherwise it would be a no contest for IRB Player of the Year. I agree with Pocock having the best individual performance against South Africa.

  • Comment number 16.

    not even a honourable mention for Weepu!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Oh, that's why I love writing these things, because people get so enraged about things... by the way, I think Silk was joking...

    Haventaclue52 - Carter was brilliant before his injury and did enough to prove he's still the best fly-half in the world by miles, so that's why he's in. Number seven is a bun-fight, alright, but not sure how you can say McCaw shouldn't have been picked for two games when Pocock was great in one and then got outplayed by McCaw in the other one.

    GM Massingbird - Not really playing safe, over the course of the tournament they were by far the best team before having a major wobble in the final. Healy? He was great in the pool stages, before coming up short against Wales. And no, not everyone can see Pocock is the new man at 7 - he was outplayed by McCaw when they came head to head in the semi.

  • Comment number 18.

    Are you being serious, i know new zealand were the overall winners but not all these players deserve to be in the team.

    Dagg, North, manu tuilagi, nonu, o connor, priestland, philips, healy, mealamu, castrogiovanni, chartirus, o Connel, ferris, warbuton, Faletau

    Although this is my team, we shouldnt forget some of the players from the lower tier teams, such as samoa, alesana tuilagi and Pisi had good tournament and Todd of USA put in some big hits

  • Comment number 19.

    Ben Dirs - There is a difference between McCaw outplaying Pocock, and Pocock being targeted by the whole New Zealand pack. If Pocock as one individual has New Zealand so scared that they send most of their pack into every ruck just to ensure he isn't there, then I would say how is he anything but the best 7 in the world?

  • Comment number 20.

    George - Yeh, but you seem to have just gone down the avenue of picking players just because they're from smaller teams. Healy got rumbled by Wales, Castro got rumbled by Ireland, I don't recall Mas or Woodcock getting rumbled by anyone. O'Connell? Not in Thorn's league. Ferris at 6? Kaino is hot favourite for most valuable player of the WC. And I'd argue Tuilagi is too similar a player to Nonu.

  • Comment number 21.

    Clearly the All Black goggles were being worn when selecting. What this shows is how poor this tournament really was and how many players failed to perform eg. Genia,Cooper, and those who only performed in cameos eg. O'Brien, Ferris.

  • Comment number 22.

    Also, Conrad Smith, whilst impeccable in defence, has lost his legs in attack. Personally I think it was criminal Graham Henry refused to select Robbie Freuan, even for a Tri-Nations game.

  • Comment number 23.

    Silk almost has it - although no top team should be considered without Wilkinson who was brilliant (8 years ago). As one of the pundits said - "The French are terrified of Wilkinson - he always plays well against them" or words to that effect. As one spot-on Welshman commented - " .... yes Gareth Edwards was brilliant once but we don't pick him nowadays" or words to that effect. And let's be specific on the captain - Tindall by a distance - all the qualities recognised as essential by the leaders at the RFU - ???, ???, ??? and the right connections! ..... Yes and I'm a total, Cross of St George right through me like a stick of rock, Englishman and supporter. A belated 'Well Done' to Wales - and for the England management - look at Wales and watch the DVD 'Living with the Lions' again - particularly Cotton, McGeechan and Telfer.

  • Comment number 24.

    QLDReds - Not sure what your point is. So NZ did a number on Pocock, ran out easy winners and Pocock was getting penalised all night. Pocock nullified, job done? Anyway, as I say, massive bun-fight at 7 - could have been any of the players mentioned, unless someone can create a computer programme to calculate to three decimal points the value of open-side flankers to their respective teams...

  • Comment number 25.

    Yes, but Mr Dirs where was your MENTION OF ADAM ASHLEY-COOPER!!!! Also will someone please acknowledge George Stowers!

  • Comment number 26.

    Kaino for MVP would be a good decision, but I would not mind seeing Nonu awarded the accolade. There was not even a debate over whether Nonu or Sonny-Bill would start at 12 for the blacks. MVP should go to a New Zealander and, unlike other exceptional All Blacks such as Dagg, Nonu and Kaino played all but one of the blacks games.

  • Comment number 27.

    Woodcock, Mealamu, Franks, Thorn, Whitelock, Kaino, Read, McCaw, Weepu, Carter, Nonu, Smith, Kahui, Jane, Dagg.

    Referee of the tournament: Joubert.

    Worst Referee of the tournament: Wayne Barnes.

    Pundit of the Tournmanet: Pienaar.

    Worst Pundit of the Tourny: Laurence Dayglo for his incessant anti-NZ commentary during the final.

  • Comment number 28.

    Dirs, I do love a controvesial debate as well!

    I would have gone for Warburton at 7 - despite the Semi final abboration I think he was the most consistant 7 in the Tournament. As for Pocock V Mccaw in the Semi's I have to agree with QLDReds, he was outdone by the entire Kiwi back-row with little help from his own - not a fair contest I think, if I had to pick a world 15 Pocock would just edge it (for me).

    As for Carter he only played in 2 games (a poor France and Tonga) and whilst I'll agree with him being the best fly-half in the world, I just don't think thats the sort of opposition that can justify a slot in the team of the tournament, although 10 is a tough spot to fill.

    For what it's worth I think I'd go with:

    Dagg, Jane, Rougerie, Roberts, North, Priestland, Weepu, Woodcock, Servat, Mas, Whitelock, Charteris, Kaino, Warburton, Harinordoquy

  • Comment number 29.

    You have to be joking, to not Warburton was the best flanker in the tournament but because of his sending off Pocock should be open-side, how can you pick Dan carter when he only played half the tournament Harinordoquy had a bad start so Faletau who was outstanding throughout

  • Comment number 30.

    In the build up to the 3/4 playoff the Australians all thought Jamie Roberts has proved in this World Cup he is a better player than Nonu. Saying he hit up far harder than Nonu and made more yards.

    I don't know how you could have left Jamie Roberts out of your World Cup selection! I'll leave it to Adam Ashley-Cooper and Marc Lièvremont.

    Adam Ashley-Cooper: “Personally, I think Jamie has been player of the tournament.”

    Marc Lièvremont: “Quite simply, Roberts has been the best centre in the tournament.”

    Shocking mistake!

  • Comment number 31.

    mmm Tuilagi similar to Nonu? Nonu would eat him for breakfast! Tuilagi has potential, yes, but has a lot to prove before he is even mentioned in the same sentence as Nonu. The only reason Tuilagi is being mentioned is 1. because this is a British forum 2. the rest of the English backs were so bad he actually looked quite good.

    I was very impressed by Wales this tournament but I still wouldn't have North or Philips in the team. Again North had some amazing games but has a lot more to prove, he was invisible against better teams like Australia and France. I could be potentially be persuaded to keep Philips in but I woud have picked either of SA scrum halfs or Genia

  • Comment number 32.

    Ben Dirs, You don't make an arguement for Nallet though.

    Turkeys of the tournament.

    Tindal (Star Man)

  • Comment number 33.

    Again Roberts was invisible against good teams like Australia

  • Comment number 34.

    GM Massingbird - My argument for Nallet? He's in Paul Ackford's team of the tournament!

  • Comment number 35.

    Gaz - I'll see your Lievremont and Ashley-Cooper and raise you my Jeremy Guscott: "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."

  • Comment number 36.

    Dagg, north, rougerie, nonu, a. tuilagi, preistland (fly half of the tournament, not "worlds best"...yet), genia
    Woodcock, Bennet, A Jones, Thorne, Nallet, Kaino, Warburton, Harinorduquoy

    My choices anyway :) genuinely think A. Jones and Sam Warburton were two of the outstanding players of the tournament in their respective positions, and the semis/bronze Medal final were lessened by their injury/suspension.

  • Comment number 37.

    what about broussow he was immense throughout the tournament and if he hadn't got injured pocock would of been able to cheat as much.

  • Comment number 38.

    Wales only managed to beat a mis-firing Ireland side who's only claim to fame was beating Australia when most of their team out injured. Something Samoa managed with more conviction earlier in the year.

    Wales tend to go missing in the big games, and Warburton buckled under the pressure. You can't have someone who will fall to pieces in the big games in your squad of the tournament.

    Aside from France, it was a poor tournament for all of the NH sides (and their referees) and frankly, I wouldn't pick any of their players in a representative side.

  • Comment number 39.

    The new IRB player of the year only gets an honorary mention. Just shows how subjective rugby is and how most people usually only see what they want to see. Including the refs!!

  • Comment number 40.

    hammersmithjack - Not sure it's a case of people seeing what they want to see, it's just a case of top-class sport being about very small margins. Would Dusautoir have won that award if France had been beaten by Wales? Of course not, he would have been villified in his home country as the man who presided over the most shambolic WC campaign in French history. Bloody good player, though...

  • Comment number 41.

    You say this is based on the tournament and not player's reputations, but then you've picked Carter? He only played a few games!! C'mon, massive contradictions there!

    Also does anyone else think there is reason to be excited by the Lion's prospects? Who is gonna get a place on that tour?

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    Not a bad team, but I think:

    1. Jenkins
    2. Servat
    3. Mas
    4. Thorn
    5. Horwill
    6. Kaino
    7. McCaw
    8. Harinordoquy
    9. Weepu
    10. Priestland
    11. Clerc
    12. Nonu
    13. Rougerie
    14. Ioane
    15. Dagg

    Honourable mentions:

    1. Woodcock
    2. Mealamu
    3. O Franks
    4. Charteris
    5. Whitelock
    6. Dusautoir
    7. Pocock
    8. Read
    9. Genia
    10. Trinh-duc
    11. North
    12. Roberts
    13. Tuilagi
    14. O'Connor
    15. Medard

    There's a few tight calls there, but I think Trinh-duc was an often underused but very valuable asset to France going forward.

    The only Englishmen who can hold their heads up high are:
    Tuilagi, Haskell, Lawes, Palmer, Cueto, Ashton and Foden

    Everyone else barely got a go, but I think that these things are subjective - I'm happy with my team of the tournament, but I'd be interested to see a game between the two...

  • Comment number 44.

    You cite Paul Ackford to defend your opinion, as in the Paul Ackford who thought that Warburton SHOULD have been sent off and that it was 'strong refereeing'! I find it difficult to take Ackford seriously in light of this opinion.

  • Comment number 45.

    GeorgeR my Lions excitement levels start to ramp up from now, I was already starting to wonder who will be on the plane in a couple of years time (but its too early to say for sure). An upcoming lions tour always adds a bit of (extra)spice to 6-nations ties!

  • Comment number 46.

    Selections of French players suffers from recentism. A week ago they were all written off as a bunch of under-performing arrogant no hopers who'd fluked their way to the final.

    Presumably this is based on comparison to what was a poor performance by a New Zealand team who despite all efforts to claim the contrary, knew that they really only had to show up to win the official "final", having won the real final the prior week.

    Read is a better 8 than Harinordoquy any day of the week. Kaino over Dusautoir and Sir Richie McCaw just comes from a whole different planet.

  • Comment number 47.

    Haventaclue52- I think a few of the Welsh boys can be pretty comfortable with their place in the tour already!

  • Comment number 48.

    GeorgeR - Yep, Carter only played a couple of times, but it was enough to show he's miles ahead of any other 10, including Priestland.

    potterme - Loads of pundits thought Warburton should have been sent off, including former Wales scrum-half Rob Jones on 5 live.

    Aaah, the Lions... if picked tomorrow, mine would be: Halfpenny/Kearney, North, O'Driscoll, Roberts, Ashton, Priestland, Phillips; Jenkins, Best, Jones, Charteris, O'Connell, Ferris/O'Brien, Warburton, Faletau/Heaslip

  • Comment number 49.

    '...players were picked on performances in the tournament rather than reputation.'

    But you then stated in reply to someone questioning Carter's inclusion:

    'Carter was brilliant before his injury and did enough to prove he's still the best fly-half in the world by miles'.

    I don't see how that adds up - Lionel Messi is rated by most people as the best footballer in the world, but would never have made the World Cup XI.

    I'm not too bothered, but it seemed to me that you were contradicting your own criteria?

  • Comment number 50.

    I think the Welsh need to take their red-tinted specs off here and realise that they're not going to get 15 welsh players in this team.

  • Comment number 51.

    Can somebody who picked Manu Tuilagi please explain why he should be considered for team of the tournament? There was a point in the game against France when commentators said, "it appears the French are starting to read Tuilagi a bit better now." I can only imagine that what they were "reading" was something along these lines:

    If the fly-half's call begins with a vowel, Tuilagi should run straight and not pass.
    If the fly-half's call begins with a B, C, D, or F, Tuilagi should run straight and not pass.
    If the fly-half's call...

    Granted, 13 wasn't a position of the biggest standouts at this World Cup, and granted Tuilagi has potential. He did not, however, fulfill it at this tournament.

  • Comment number 52.

    Pretty much agree but I would also have considered the following 'tweaks':

    1. Pair up Conrad Smith with Jamie Roberts in the centre.
    2. Pocock must be in the back row.
    3. If we are considering injured players and an 'enforcer' is needed to partner Charteris in the second row, then go for the best ... Bakkies Botha of SA.


  • Comment number 53.

    No sorry AGolfingGuy, I'm not Welsh and I appreciate that they were the best NH team by bloody miles!

    Also I think BJ is right, I don't think you can defend Carter's inclusion, given your own criteria!

  • Comment number 54.

    GeorgeR - If they were flying out tomorrow then without a doubt a lot of the Wales squad would be going , but its not it's in 2 years and a lot can happen - Who would have thought 18 months ago that Luke Fitzgerald wouldn't make the Irish world cup squad - or that Manu tuilagi would be a starter for England. Lots can happen in 2 years!

  • Comment number 55.

    BJ - It's a team of the tournament and Carter played three times in the tournament and was brilliant every time. That simple really.

  • Comment number 56.

    I think Quade Cooper has been the best 10 this year though he has had a stinking World Cup so does Carter get in because he got injured before he could fail?

  • Comment number 57.

    @QLDReds @Ben Dirs

    QLDReds, I agree almost whole heartedly with your point about Pocock. His performance against South Africa was amongst the best individual outings I've ever seen. Some might say "illegal", if we're comparing him to McCaw who has made a career about of being accused of being so, I think we can leave that out, 7s live on the edge, people need to get over that even if it means their team has lost.

    McCaw, in my opinion, didn't outplay Pocock; the battle of the backrow was won by NZ for sure, but for me the difference was Jerome Kaino. He was far superior to Rocky Elsom, likewise Reed was all over the Aussie 8. The battle of the 7s was not a level playing field, yes Pocock struggled, yes he got pinged more, but this wasn't an individual victory for McCaw and I maintain that he should be in the World Cup team. Having said this, McCaw, for the moment is still the best in the world in my opinion.

    Otherwise, the team is about right for me, except for Vincent Clerc for George North, Priestland for Carter and maybe an honourable mention for Jonathan Davies at 13?

  • Comment number 58.

    Wonder if McCaw will get cited for the 'accidential fist followed by knee' on Parra a la Courtney Lawes? Or, as is most likely to happen Parra gets cited for headbutting McCaw's knee.......

  • Comment number 59.

    There's little point in discussing Lions tours at this point - the tour isn't for over a year: players like BOD and POC will be lucky to make it given that they will be in their mid-30s by that point

    Then again, Shawsy played the best game of his life in 2009 aged 35... that's part of the fun!

    I think each side of the four home nations has young players with bags of potential, and I do think that in Ireland and England's case in particular, they do need to start developping and trusting the abundant youth at their disposal.

    For Ireland, if it's a case of there being no-one else, then they may have to stick with their oldies, but actually, their oldies are still very good rugby players.

    As for England, a lot of their oldies were totally shown up - and deserve to be replaced. Moody has done the sensible thing and retired after a World Cup, I suggest Easter, Deacon, Tindall and co. do the same - as they should not be picked again for England. Arguably Wilkinson as well...

  • Comment number 60.

    Agree Charlie,
    But truthfull is any player going to knee, (the most injury prone joint of any sportsman) another player in the head (hardest bone in the body, especially on a rugby player). No, its an injury waiting to happen so both were probably accidents.

  • Comment number 61.

    @Ben Dirs: Fair enough - I won't mention it again, as you have had a lot of messages about this choice, and judging by the increased brevity of your answers you're getting a bit bored!

  • Comment number 62.

    Why are people bad mouthing Cooper? He may have not been playing to his usual standard but he was better than any of the home nation halfs (except for maybe Priestland) He pretty much won Australia the game against Wales in the first 20mins before he got England

    I would also like to say I would pick good old Shane Williams any day before North. Against Australia Shaneo showed true class where North was anonymous

  • Comment number 63.

    Hi Ben,

    I can`t aggree with you about Phillips, YES , he made some great breaks and scored some excellent tries, BUT, he has developed a liking for taking to long to organise his targets and ends up losing the ball to the counter ruck.

    vectorbornedisease, I dont aggree with you about Roberts, I have (until this tournament) been screaming for him to be dropped, but against Australia, he and other possible danger players were targeted, by at least 2 tacklers at a time.

  • Comment number 64.

    *injured not England (I don't know what happened there?)

  • Comment number 65.

    Far too many ordinary NZ's in your team. Remember that due to southern hemisphere referee bias/brainwashing they are always on the front foot. Many of their players would not stand out if they had to defend against quick ball or take slow ball going backwards.

    This applies particularly to Dagg, Smith and McCaw, who do not compare with, respectively, Beale, Roberts or, in McCaw's case, any of your other mentions.

    As for Carter, he may be the best 10 in the world but, due to injury, that was not evident in this competition. Cooper showed more all round talent, and Priestland was the revelation of the tournament. Both did more than Carter based on this RWC alone.

  • Comment number 66.

    GM Massingbird, totally agree with your comment, just would be good to get some consistency which is this case doesn't even lie with the refs but the citing committee.

  • Comment number 67.

    "Wonder if McCaw will get cited for the 'accidential fist followed by knee' on Parra a la Courtney Lawes? Or, as is most likely to happen Parra gets cited for headbutting McCaw's knee......."

    Why on Earth would he have deliberately taken out France's weak link in order to fix their selectional issues for them at first five eighth?

    I'm more interested that Dusautoir wasn't cited for entering from the NZ side of a ruck and standing on McCaw's left kidney before rucking his lower back repeatedly when McCaw was nowhere near the ball. IRB player of the year, indeed.

  • Comment number 68.

    Philips, he has to be the slowest passing scrum half in history, I hear people say he's like having an extra flanke. Well if you want an extra flanker play Mauro Bergamasco there.

  • Comment number 69.

    Can somebody who picked Manu Tuilagi please explain why he should be considered for team of the tournament? There was a point in the game against France when commentators said, "it appears the French are starting to read Tuilagi a bit better now." I can only imagine that what they were "reading" was something along these lines:

    If the fly-half's call begins with a vowel, Tuilagi should run straight and not pass.
    If the fly-half's call begins with a B, C, D, or F, Tuilagi should run straight and not pass.
    If the fly-half's call...

    Granted, 13 wasn't a position of the biggest standouts at this World Cup, and granted Tuilagi has potential. He did not, however, fulfill it at this tournament.


    Probably because he was the only one in the team capable of breaking through the defensive line ;)

  • Comment number 70.

    "Worst Referee of the tournament: Wayne Barnes."

    Perhaps, but that would require him to be worse than Bryce Lawrence, who was so poor that the head of IRB referees said he will never officiate a test match again.

    Barnes is a good referee who does sadly make some high profile mistakes which make us question him (the forward pass in 2007 being a prime example). Referees make mistakes, they are human.

    But to make so, so many mistakes in a World Cup match is simply spellbinding - therefore Lawrence will have to step down.

    Like it or not, while we will remember the rugby of this tournament being fantastic, we will also inevitably recall some shocking refereeing decisions. The most prominent being Warburton's sending off - which has been debated to death, but frankly that wasn't a spear tackle, it was a beautifully timed dump tackle, but ended badly because he didn't support Clerc properly - 20 mins in, it totally killed the game off, I've seen yellows given for them, and that's what would have been more appropriate.

    In the end, the best team won the world cup, and while France may not have deserved to be in the final, they certainly showed that when they turn up they can be a world class opposition.

  • Comment number 71.

    "wasn't a spear tackle, it was a beautifully timed dump tackle"

    I refer to you law 10.4(j) "Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player's feet are still off the ground such that the player's head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play."

    Cut and dried Jack. Cut and dried. There's no such thing as a "spear tackle" or a "dump tackle" I'm afraid. But the definition of foul play is clear.

    Overall, the world cup has turned up a refereeing star in Craig Joubert. Consistent. Composed. Communicates well, without the Nigel Owens style continuous commentary and pseudo coaching. I know there are a lot of very bitter, disappointed British fans out there who are upset than NZ proved them wrong on their "choking" cliche. But finally you see what NZ are capable of when we're not shackled by poor referees like Wayne Barnes.

  • Comment number 72.

    Very little I would disagree with in this team selection. At scrum half I'd go for Yachvilli or Genia, and Read at no.8 over the tournament. But otherwise hard to argue with the rest.

  • Comment number 73.

    "You can't have someone who will fall to pieces in the big games in your squad of the tournament. "

    Ah, thegreyghost, I hoped you'd show.

    Well done to NZ. Easily the best team in the world right now, and deserved WC winners.

    And yet, and yet. The were rubbish on Sunday. They completely crumpled under the pressure. I've never seen a worse kicking performance from a player than the one Weepu put in, not even from JW. Joubert was a disgrace and any under the charge of an even-handed ref, they'd have lost.

    If the test if

    "You can't have someone who will fall to pieces in the big games in your squad of the tournament. "

    then none of the All Blacks should be there.

    (They were, to a man, exceptional against Australia, mind you.)

  • Comment number 74.

    2011 RWC XV:

    15 - Israel Dagg
    14 - Cory Jane
    13 - Conrad Smith
    12 - Ma'a Nonu
    11 - Richard Kahui
    10 - Aaron Cruden
    9 - Piri Weepu
    8 - Kieran Read
    7 - Richie McCaw
    6 - Jerome Kaino
    5 - Brad Thorn
    4 - Sam Whitelock
    3 - Owen Franks
    2 - Keven Mealamu
    1 - Tony Woodcock

  • Comment number 75.

    1. Jenkins
    2. Servat
    3. Mas
    4. Horwill
    5. Thorn
    6. Kaino
    7. Pocock
    8. Harinordoquy
    9. Genia
    10. Cooper (cus hes got all the tricks)
    11. North
    12. Nonu
    13. Rougerie
    14. Jane
    15. Dagg

    I dont know how you can include carter, he only played a couple of games in the tournament. QUADE COOPER FTW!!!!!!

  • Comment number 76.


    A fair argument, but I'm not sure it holds true. Going by official stats, Tuilagi averaged 0.6 line breaks per game. As I recall he only really managed that against the lower ranked nations. I do think some of the so-called minnows are closing the gap and Georgia in particular can play, but the point remains (in my opinion) that Tuilagi didn't do this when it counts.

    Defensively, he was reasonably strong, but in any case we're talking team-of-the-tournament, not player-of-the-deflated-and-underperforming-England team.

  • Comment number 77.

    Wales beat one team of note (Ireland) all tournament. Other than that they beat second tier nations and lost to South Africa, France and Australia. They may have played good rugby, but I don't know on what basis they had a sensational world cup.

  • Comment number 78.

    "And yet, and yet. The were rubbish on Sunday. They completely crumpled under the pressure. I've never seen a worse kicking performance from a player than the one Weepu put in, not even from JW. Joubert was a disgrace and any under the charge of an even-handed ref, they'd have lost. "

    I see the difficulty that a lot of NH fans have with Joubert. He awarded penalties to NZ in a world cup game involving France after all, that's not something you guys are used to seeing. Especially when you have Lolly Dayglo in the commentary box on a one-eyed crusade in the style of Brain Moore to attempt to find fault with every thing NZ did. Surprised so many British fans believed so much of his nonsense.

    Joubert made a few poor calls, but these mostly seemed to favour France. For instance, repeatedly awarding France scrum feeds when NZ had held them up in possession and were about to turn the ball over.

    Reality is that NZ, despite all claims to the contrary, knew they really only had to turn up to win. They turned up. They won.

    NZ played very little rugby, just trusted the defense to be good enough to keep out a fairly limited French attack. We got ahead early through a fairly simple set piece try, unfortunately Sir Piri Weepu had an off day with the boot or it would have been another walk over. I guess you expect this sort of hiccup when down to your fourth string first five eighth and still win the world cup.

    Not sure where you saw any buckling under pressure. I seem to recall NZ defending for 35 minutes resolutely, then waiting for the chance, effecting the turn over and winding down the clock with composed forward control. Absolute nerves of steel on display there, make no mistake.

    All in all, I'm happy that progress has been made in improved the standard of refereeing and aside from the now regulation Wayne Barnes howlers, the world cup will be remembered for it's stellar rugby and righteous outcome rather than some green and pasty ref losing his composure.

  • Comment number 79.

    Meanwhile as joint leading try scorer of the tournament, does Ashton not deserve at least an honourable mention?

  • Comment number 80.

    I'm trying to figure out if "joint leading try scorer" is more or less of an accolade than "joint 8th place".

  • Comment number 81.

    Tournament XV is not the same as WorldBest XV, which you seem to have gone for Mr Dirs.

    For Me:
    Dagg, Clerc, Smith, Roberts, Jane, Priestland, Phillips, Woodcock, Mealemu, Adam Jones, Nallet, Thorn, Dusautoir, Pocock, Faletau.

    Disappointment of the Tournament XV:
    Hook, Ashton, De Luca, McCabe, Habana, JW, Du Preez, Perguini, Hartley, Castro, POC, Gray, Moody, Elsom, Parisse

  • Comment number 82.

    Although McCaw is a great player - easily the best in the tournament - he is also one of the dirtiest. His punch to Para in the final should have seen him sent off. Perhaps that is what you want from a No 7 - someone who gets away with everything.

  • Comment number 83.

    The fact that your comments focus on the performance of the referee, rather than the quality of your side's play says it all really. He was awful, and I didn't see a single 50/50 decision go to France.

    I tuned in expecting to see a vintage NZ display. I had no particular desire to see France win, being English. I'd always rather the side that played the best rugby win. Sadly, on this occasion, they didn't.

    Still, what goes around comes around, and clearly NZ got the wrong end of the decisions last time round.

    Great team. Very average performance in the final.

  • Comment number 84.

    I'm absolutley amazed that Mike Phillips could get anywhere near that team. Yes, he scored two outstanding opportunistic tries at vital times but the bread and butter of his scrum-half duties are way below international standard.

    He takes an age at the base of every ruck, so long in fact, that at least once or twice every game the ball actually gets stolen by the opposition. He also spends so much of his attention calling the play that when he finally does try and get the ball out he fumbles it at least once a game.

    His decision-making is poor - did you not see the 27 phases at the end of the semi where he just did not know what play to call, so instead took it round the corner time after time to make it easy for France? He's been doing that for years.

    It was notable how much quicker the service was whenever Williams was brought on.

    I think your decision has been based solely on those two tries and the generally poor level of scrum-halves at the RWC.

    Luckily for Wales - WG now has a ready-made excuse to leave him out as he's leaving for France.

  • Comment number 85.

    Carter at 10? come on, he only played 2 games!!!!!

  • Comment number 86.

    Team of the tournament is too difficult (I for one didn't watch every game), but based on the best single performance there is no doubt you would have to have Rougerie, Harinorduquy and Dusautoir for their performances in the final. FWIW my team would be:-

    Woodcock, Meealamu, Mas, Thorn, Charteris, Dusautoir, Pocock, Harinorduquy, Phillips, Carter, Roberts, Rougerie, Jane, O'Connor, Dagg

  • Comment number 87.

    Bryce Lawrence is the worst referee ever!

    McCaw best player at getting away with cheap shots!

    Thought France played very well but NZ defended well & ground out a result
    which is against all their rugby upbringing. So well done for winning ugly for once!

  • Comment number 88.

    brokenbra - If you're right (I'm no expert on Scrum-Half play) then it's worrying to think how good Wales would be if they saw sense and brought back Peel.

  • Comment number 89.

    "The fact that your comments focus on the performance of the referee, rather than the quality of your side's play says it all really. He was awful, and I didn't see a single 50/50 decision go to France."

    Are you sure about that? Or are you just parroting back what the commentary team said on eigth separate occasions. They were desperate for penalties to be given for alleged high tackles. It seemed to me that there were several candidates from both sides, none were penalised. So that's just consistency for me. I don't recall anyone getting clothes-lined out there, so clearly Joubert and his officials did a good job.

    The breakdown was refereed very consistently with how Joubert had handled other games, other than the bizarre penalty against McCaw in his own 22 when Joubert first called "Turn over is good" and then penalised McCaw as the ball was freed from the ruck by Kaino. Very odd call that one.

    The thing that impressed me most with Joubert was the way he handled the French play-acting and attempts to slow the game down. France have been playing the Holywood card since the pool stages, and Joubert was firm and communicated his intention to keep the game moving well.

    Para was merely unfortunate to be clipped by McCaw as he entered a breakdown at pace, and the ITV commentary team's repeated attempts to paint it as deliberate foul play were just cringeworthy.

  • Comment number 90.

    1. Jenkins
    2. Mealamu
    3. Mas
    4.Brad Thorn
    5. Sam Whitelock
    6. Dusautoir
    7. Pocock
    8. Harinordoquy
    9. Phillips
    10. Priestland
    11. Kahui
    12. Mermoz
    13. Smith
    14. North
    15. Dagg

  • Comment number 91.

    Not a massive rugby fan I must admit, I used to play in school because we had no football team!!
    However, on what I seen and it pains me to admit it, Dusautoir was the best player In the tournament. Commanding presence, excellent leader and had total control of his players. I wouldn't wanna be anywhere near him on the pitch unless he was on my team!!! He has also just won the IRB player of the year. So how can he not be in your XV Ben???

    I think it is far too easy to pick NZ players, yes they won the World cup.....but they were also 1/8 on to win the final....they won by 1 point!

  • Comment number 92.

    A scrum half needs a quick accurate pass, the rest is a bonus. An international scrum half need to have the bonuses.

    Philips has a slowww, paassss (and a few bonuses).

  • Comment number 93.

    Snegga, what's your point? You can't pick NZ players because they were *too* good to pick?

    The issue here really is that teams are not collections of individuals. It's the dynamics and combinations between players that make teams great, and the balance of a team that leads to superiority when playing a particular style.

    You can't just pick a random bunch of guys who may have played one outstanding game and think that you're building a good team.

  • Comment number 94.

    1. Woodcock
    2. Tincu - by some distance the class hooker of the tournament
    3. Adam Jones
    4/5 To be honest there was little quality on display. Brad Thorn was a stand out then it rather went backwards. Charteris may have been in the form of his life but that still does not make him a quality player. POC
    6/7/8 Haridonoqy was a stand out, Warburton or McCaw or Dussatoir or Pocock is a nice choice to have then round off with Ferris or OBrien.
    9. Again little quality of show. Phillips may have scored a crucial try but his passing was very slow and of variably quality - his replacement (sorry forgot name) looks much more promising. The little Japanese scrum half looked good, shame he only weighs about 11 stone soaking wet.
    10 Prestland: a real star of the tournament until injured
    11/14: North and Ashton, although Bowe and James O Connor or also clear options. North was a real star and Ashton just scored.
    12/13: Roberts and Nonu or Rougerie
    15. Tricky choice: Daag but Halfpenny was excellent too

  • Comment number 95.

    Congratulations Justin, you've named a 15 in which only 3 of the world cup winners are present, and they are outnumbered by players who didn't make it past the quater-finals... and you guys call Lievremont crazy.

  • Comment number 96.

    1) Steenkamp.
    2) Du Plessis (Not his fault his manager was a fool not playing him from the start)
    3) Mas
    4) Matfield
    5) Horwill
    6) Kaino
    7) Pocock
    8) Read
    9) Genia
    10) Carter
    11) North
    12) Nonu
    13) Tuilagi
    14) Kahui
    15) Beale

  • Comment number 97.

    by its nature, greyghost, the team of the tournament is a collection of individuals.

  • Comment number 98.

    @ thegreyghost.

    My point is simple, I think Ben has gone with NZ's big names because it is easy.

    I just think you should pick the best player for each position and I feel Dusautoir was the best in his position.....but I think Ben has picked Richie because he is captain of the winning team. McCaw is awesome i admit that, but Dusautoir was quality, played for a weaker team that almost pulled off an amazing shock and has just won player of the year...surely worthy of making any team of the tournament don't you think?

  • Comment number 99.

    Here we go again - more England bashing.
    England obviously had a poor World Cup because they went out in the quarter-finals.
    They did however only lose one game to the eventual unlucky runners up. They also managed to score 2 tries in open play - more than anyone else against France in the knockout stages - and they were vilified for their negative tactics.
    The same tactics that NZ are now being praised for - and rightly so - they won the World Cup scoring 1 try in the semi and 1 in the final (by a prop from a lineout).

  • Comment number 100.

    Dontbesheep...yep, that's my point. Firstly it's a silly concept. (Is there really nothing better to blog about?) Secondly I don't see anybody debating combinations and balance and thinking about who the potential opposition might be for this "team of the tournament" that might influence selection. You can't play rugby against yourself, after all.

    Everyone just seems to be naming players from their home countries who they saw do something good in one game so they can get some sense of nationalistic pride by seeing their guys up there in a list of the best. (classic example : Phillips) or naming lots of Frenchmen because they were in the last game they watched and can't bare to admit NZ deserved to win.


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