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Rugby world cup final

It’s over for another four years, and what fantastic - sometimes controversial - moments we have been treated to over the last seven weeks.

There have been some real standout performances from players, referees and coaches alike. Here is Gullivers’ World XV, with a few extra accolades and special mentions to boot.

Gullivers' World XV infographic

 

WORLD XV

1)Scott Sio (Aus)

The Brumbies prop has been instrumental in turning the Australian scrum’s fortunes around, such an important aspect of the game that lead them to the final.

2)Dane Coles (NZL)

With a 100% success rate with his lineout throws and tries aplenty, Coles is the hooker everyone wants in their team to get the job done.

3)WP Nel (SCO)

Instrumental in Scotland’s defiance during the tournament. His dominant performance in the quarter final almost saw Scotland scrape past the Wallabies. One to watch for the RBS 6 Nations 2016.

4)Alun Wyn Jones (WAL)

His performances throughout have been nothing short of heroic. With a vastly depleted back line, Wales’ forwards needed to step up – and they did thanks to some great work in the engine room and unwavering defence.

5)Brodie Retallick (NZL)

The 6ft 8 lock has continued to demonstrate why he was the 2014 World Rugby Player of the Year. His awesome power, confrontational ball carrying style and skill in the loose makes him one of our players of the tournament.

6)Schalk Burger (RSA)

The back row is difficult to pick, but we felt that Burger’s positive attitude and work rate deserved this place – making the most runs with ball in hand by a country mile! Going down as a true legend of the Springboks, Burger has been a favourite since he debuted in the tournament against Georgia back in 2003, overcoming some debilitating injuries as well as recovering from bacterial meningitis, an illness which almost claimed his life.

7)Michael Leitch (JPN)

An inspiring leader, with an unrivalled work rate and abrasive playing style – Michael Leitch is one of the stand out players in the tournament. Leading by example, his Japanese team has shown huge potential on the world circuit; he’s one to keep an eye on.

David Pocock (AUS)

One half of the famous ‘Pooper Twins’, Pocock has been truly outstanding throughout the whole tournament. This man mountain has made the most turnovers and has put his body on the line for his team.

9)Greig Laidlaw (SCO)

This was a toss-up between the Scottish captain and Gareth Davies of Wales, but Laidlaw, as the talisman for the Scotland team and being in the top five point’s scorers, meant he won our pick this time.  

10) Bernard Foley (AUS)

There are many fly halves that could’ve been our choice including Felipe Berchesi of Uruguay, Dan Biggar of Wales and Dan Carter of New Zealand (of course, especially after his man of the match performance in the Final), but Foley had an outstanding tournament. Aside from a couple of missed kicks in the semi-final, Foley was superb with ball in hand and with his playmaking abilities (dismantling England) – with a few tries to boot!

11) Julian Savea (NZL)

An out and out athlete - who can leave this man out of their team? Dubbed the new Jonah Lomu, Savea is unstoppable with ball in hand and the opposition bounce off him like a bowling ball hitting the pins. Sheer power!

12) Ma’a Nonu (NZL)

Nonu won his 100th cap during the tournament, and you can see why he has been such a mainstay for the All Blacks. Forming formidable partnerships with Carter at 10 and anyone outside him, means he has been pivotal for the New Zealand back line’s ball handling and awe-inspiring moves.

13) Marcelo Bosch (ARG)

Part of the glue that holds this Argentinian team together, Bosch has lead by example throughout the tournament. His world rugby experience has shown, with outstanding gainline success. He’s also not shy of tickling the ribs of his opposite man!

14) Adam Ashley-Cooper (AUS)

A prolific try scorer, AAC has been a steady but outstanding performer for the Wallabies over the years with over 100 caps. His hat trick against Argentina in the semis sealed the deal for this choice.

15) Ayumu Goromaru (JPN)

There are so many great fullbacks to choose from – Israel Folau of Australia, Mike Brown of England and Ben Smith of New Zealand to name but a few. Some of these world class fullbacks haven’t quite hit the mark this tournament, however Ayumu Goromaru of Japan has provided more than could have been predicted. Instrumental in the win over South Africa with his goal kicking and sublime sidestepping, Goromaru’s passion for his nation, as well as his passion for the game of rugby means he wins this one hands down.

Replacements:

16) Bismark du Plessis (RSA)

Such an important part of the Springbok’s game plan, du Plessis was key to the ‘Boks getting their campaign back on track after their loss to Japan. His work in the tight, aggressive defence and skill in the loose mean he cannot be overlooked as an extremely influential player.

17)Dudu Kubriashvili (GEO)

Currently playing at RC Toulon shows the quality of this experienced prop. An integral part of Georgia’s game plan, Kubriashvili lead from the front with consistent impressive scrummaging performances against world class opposition.

18) Marcos Ayerza (ARG)
It’s no secret that this fantastic Argentinian is picked for his scrummaging ability. Regarded as one of the premier loose-head props in the world, Ayerza has once again shown that he can mix it with the best in the world, often coming out on top!

19) Iain Henderson (IRE)
The young Irishman has shown experience beyond his years throughout the tournament. Right up there on the list of most carries, gainline success and tackle success; Henderson has given the Home Nations something to think about for the upcoming RBS 6 Nations.

20) Mamuka Gorgodze (GEO)
Man of the Match against the All Blacks sums this man up. His incredible desire to play for his country drives Gorgodze to play out of his skin in every match. His extreme power, unrivalled work rate and love for the game meant this man could not have been left out. What a player!

21) Dan Biggar (WAL)
Stepped up to the plate on the world’s biggest stage despite his fellow players falling to injury around him – he led from the front with a relatively inexperienced back line.

22) Gareth Davies (WAL)
With Rhys Webb not making it to the tournament due to injury, Davies had some huge shoes to fill, and boy did he fill them! His explosive pace, quick thinking and excellent distribution carried Wales on to the quarter finals and very nearly earned him first choice in our number 9 shirt.

23)Nehe Milner-Skudder (NZL)
Another player who is unlucky to miss out on a place in our First XV. With over 400 meters gained, his electric step a staggering 23 defenders beaten, Nehe Milner-Skudder has been impactful and a great addition to the All Blacks’ back line.

 

Coach of the Tournament

Michael Cheika (AUS). Off the back of a win for NSW Waratahs in the Super Rugby Championship, Cheika’s appointment has not disappointed.  The Wallabies have been transformed under his leadership.

Special mention - Eddie Jones (JPN). The man behind the renaissance of the Japanese team, Japan will be sad to see him go to South Africa after the tournament, but he leaves with the team in the best shape before they host the tournament themselves in four years’ time.

 

Referee of the Tournament

Nigel Owens (WAL). Everyone’s favourite Welshman, and a deserved appointment to officiate the Final. Providing the best putdowns in rugby over the years, Scotland v South Africa provided another classic, aimed at Stuart Hogg: “There was nothing wrong with [the tackle]. If you want to dive like that again, come back here in two weeks and play [when the football's on], not today.”

 

Team of the Tournament

Australia.  A year ago, everyone had written the Wallabies off, with disarray following Ewen Mackenzie’s departure.  The scrum, a weak point of Australia’s play over the years, was transformed, and Michael Cheika convincing the ARU to allow overseas players Drew Mitchell and Matt Giteau back into the fold, has been a winning formula.

Special mentions go to Japan, who pulled off the most shocking and historic win over the Springboks and were unlucky to miss out in a place in the final 8 (the only team to have won three pool matches and not qualify in history), and Argentina, who have gone from strength-to-strength since being included in the Rugby Championship.

 

Player of the Tournament

David Pocock (AUS).  What can we say – the standout player of the tournament in our eyes.  As mentioned before, this man mountain performs and confronts on the pitch like no one else in world rugby, whilst being humble and passionate off it. A true gentleman, a role model for the game, and without doubt a delight to watch - whoever you support!

 

Try of the Tournament

Vereniki Goneva (FJI); against Wales. This isn’t one of World Rugby’s final five choices, but with Goneva finishing a superb 85m effort from the Fijians we think this try deserves the try of the tournament. Fiji are known for their long range efforts, which unfortunately tend to fall short more often than not, however this try saw outstanding handling, mesmerising footwork and a great finish – what a try!

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