Team of the Tournament: RUGBY.com.au's star performers of the Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup
by Iain Payten

The Rugby World Cup is almost concluded and RUGBY.com.au has pulled together it's selection of the tournament's best players from the 46 matches so far.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the 23-man squad is dominated by England and South Africa, who will do battle for the trophy on Saturday in the final in Tokyo.

The only Aussie to make the cut was hooker Tolu Latu, who turned in impressive form during a Wallabies' campaign that ended in the quarter-finals.

Latu was picked on the bench based on his tournament-best stats for ball carrying, strong defence and being at the centre of a well-performed Aussie lineoit and scrum, both of which returned success in the mid-90 percentage region. 

Marika Koroibete capped a career-best season with a strong debut World Cup, but the flying no.11 was in arguably the hottest positional category on the wing, where leading try scorer John Adams, Kotaro Matsushima, Jonny May, Anthony Watson and Cheslin Kolbe also couldn't crack a start.

Other Aussies who turned in good shifts at the World Cup - the likes of Allan Alaalatoa, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, David Pocock and Matt Toomua - weren't consistently in company with the men below, however.

Let's take a look at the team.

RUGBY.COM.AU'S TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT

1. Tendai Mtawarira (Springboks)

Ultra-reliable and ever-strong, in all aspects of set-piece and tight five play. Beast in name and (on-field) nature.

 

2. Jamie George (England)

Consistently good and has kept the England lineout humming despite only having three recognised jumpers.

 

3. Kyle Sinckler (England)

Powerful, combative tighthead prop who has loved the scrum battle, shifting bodies and the odd try in Japan.

 

4. Lood de Jager (Springboks)

In 2007, the Boks had Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha and there’s no coincidence they’ve also got several outstanding locks in 2019, with Etzebeth, Snyman, Mostert and the best of them all, Lood de Jager.

 

5. Maro Itoje (England)

Tipped for greatness many years ago and Itoje has proved the pundits right; strong in set-piece, when carrying and in defence. But Itoje’s smarts are under-rated, he’s a constant source of irritation for rivals, in areas like mauls and charging down kicks. Leading contender for player of the tournament.

 

6. Tom Curry (England)

One of the brilliant young English backrowers who mowed down the best Australian and New Zealand attacking players in successive weeks. Gets through a mountain of work.

 

7. Sam Underhill (England)

Respected in England for a few seasons but this World Cup has seen Underhill emerge as a global star. Incredible workrate, defensively dynamic and an on-ball pest of the highest order. Bested Hooper, Pocock and Savea in successive weeks, which speaks volumes.

 

8. Duane Vermuelen (Springboks)

Getting better with age. Tough as nails when defending and carrying, Vermuelen has led the Springboks back into their comfort zone as far as game style; uncompromising at the contact zones. Rarely bested in physical clashes. 

 

9. Faf de Klerk (Springboks)

The busiest halfback in world rugby, de Klerk has been at his dynamic best in Japan, with ball and boot. His Mighty Mouse defence inspires teammates too.

 

10. George Ford (England)

Beautifully balanced, as far as kick-run-pass choices go. Ford’s ability to keep rival defences guessing, and under pressure, is a big part of why England have been playing on top of big name rivals in Japan.

 

11. Kenki Fukuoka (Japan)

The flying winger epitomised the Japanese effort at the 2019 World Cup; fast, undaunted and confident in his skills. Not only a brilliant finisher, but a creator too. Just edged Kotaro Matsushima.

 

12. Damien De Allende (Springboks)

At times carries the entire Springbok team on his shoulders, or a couple of defenders at least. So strong when carrying, shaking defenders off and getting past the gainline.

 

13. Manu Tuilagi (England)

Known as a powerhouse ball runner, for good reason, but Tuilagi is one of the best defensive no.13s in the game, too. Also pops up smartly in support.

 

14. Semi Radradra (Fiji)

One of the best players in the tournament and that was with only pool games to show his stuff. The former NRL star lit up the early rounds with footwork, pace and power. Honourable mention to Marika Koroibete, the only Aussie who went close to a spot in the World Cup’s top 23.

 

15. Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)

Arguably playing out of position, Barrett still tore up defences with the extra space at fullback. One of the best footy players on the planet in any code.

 

RESERVES 

16. Tolu Latu (Australia)

17. Keita Inagaki (Japan)

18. Mako Vunipola (England)

19. Alun Wynn Jones (Wales)

20. Ardie Savea (New Zealand)

21. Antoine DuPont (France)

22. Owen Farrell (England)

23. Josh Adams (Wales)