Saturday 21 September 2019

One Irish player and one Romanian in our Rugby World Cup team of the weekend

Ireland's wing Keith Earls scores their second try during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between Ireland and Romania at Wembley
Ireland's wing Keith Earls scores their second try during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between Ireland and Romania at Wembley

Only Keith Earls gets the nod after an easy win over Romania, who we felt were deserving of one representative for the brave, if limited, showing.

15 Matt Evans (Canada)

Showed some dazzling running skills in his side’s brave effort against Italy, scoring a try and always looking lively. Simon Zebo (Ireland) wasn’t too bad either.

14 JP Pietersen (South Africa)

The Springboks were under pressure to deliver and the winger showed his clinical finishing. Nothing outstanding in the three tries, but we have seen this World Cup where poor finishing has cost dearly.

13 Jean de Villiers (South Africa)

Not too many outstanding candidates in this position - England’s Brad Barritt was some way from the cut - so De Villiers gets it simply because we will never be able to do this again. Terrific player and ambassador for his country.

12 Jamie Roberts (Wales)

England’s Sam Burgess was close because, after all the nonsense beforehand, he actually had a very decent game. But when it mattered most, Roberts delivered.

11 Keith Earls (Ireland)

An outstanding performance from the Munster man. Admittedly against weaker opposition, has been Ireland's player of the tournament thus far. Must be pushing close to first-choice XV. Honourable mention for Canada's DTH van der Merwe and that incredible try against Italy.

10 Dan Biggar (Wales)

The night he joined the world pantheon, establishing himself as one of the very best fly-halves with a remarkable performance of character and calmness.

9 Fourie du Preez (South Africa)

In his first start in 15 months he showed what South Africa have been missing. They will be a very different side with him pulling the strings.

International Rugby Newsletter

Rugby insights and commentary from our renowned journalists like Neil Francis, Will Slattery, Alan Quinlan & Cian Tracey.

1 Scott Sio (Australia)

A warning selection. Yes, he was only playing against Uruguay this weekend but Australia’s scrummage was strong. Beware England. It may not be like it used to be.

2 Tom Youngs (England)

As ever was relentless in the loose and, importantly, this time was excellent in the tight. Still on the losing side however.

3 Titi Lamositele (USA)

Scored a try against Scotland and was part of a wonderfully spirited effort from his side that really frightened the Scots early on. At 20 has serious potential.

4 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)

Set the tone early for South Africa in their redemption march with his physicality.

5 Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

Wales will never replace this chap. He was relentless in his combativeness. Some thought he was quiet on Saturday. They clearly weren’t watching properly.

6 Dan Lydiate (Wales)

Warren Gatland knew what he was doing when he picked Lydiate rather than using the two openside flanker theory. Made more tackles (13) than anyone else in the England match.

7 Sam Warburton (Wales)

It is quite remarkable that so many observers, and some of them are very knowledgeable rugby folk, still do not ‘get’ Warburton’s influence upon matches. Towering performance against England.

8 Daniel Carpo (Romania)

Not a vintage week for number 8s, so in a struggling side, Daniel Carpo gets the nod. While the minnows spent large chunks of the game against Ireland on the backfoot, he carried the fight. He earned three turnovers during the game (of Romani's 10 in total) and with finished with an impressive 18 tackles.

Edges Billy Vunipola out of the team.

The Left Wing: Ireland's fullback dilemma, World Cup bonding and the squad standby list

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