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Rugby World Cup Team of the Weekend

The Rugby World Cup came to a brilliant close this weekend with two final games but who impressed the most over the last round

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(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The Rugby World Cup finished on Saturday as South Africa lifted the Webb Ellis Cup for a third time with an impressive 32-12 win over England.

24 hours earlier and the All Blacks picked up their consolation bronze medals with a brilliant 40-17 victory over Wales in the third-place play-off. 

Across the two games there were some standout performances but who makes our last team of the weekend for this year’s World Cup and why did we pick them. 

Check out who we picked below and why we chose them. 

Backs 

15) Beauden Barrett –

Put the previous weekend’s defeat behind him to put on another fantastic show from full-back. Had tough competition in the team from Springboks Willie le Roux who saved his best performance of the tournament for the final. However, Barrett showed his dancing feet in for his try, his ability in the air dealing with everything that the Welsh threw at him, just on a different level. No matter who takes over as the new head coach this man will be key to the squad. 

14) Ben Smith – 

His last performance in an All Blacks jersey and he left fans wondering if he should have started in the semi-finals as he ran the show. Again, was pushed close by the Boks Cheslin Kolbe but the despite a wonderful try for the winger in green he just didn’t see enough of the ball unfortunately. On the other hand, Smith was everywhere, popping up with two wonderful tries before the half-time whistle to take the game beyond Wales. He will leave some big boots to be filled. 

13) Sonny Bill Williams – 

He started at 12 on what was also his final appearance in a New Zealand jersey but we had to fit him in as he was just simply incredible with his handling game. Age doesn’t seem to affect his skill, producing a wonderful offload for a try assist and unlucky not to set-up another. Splits opinion at times but his talent was on full show on Friday as he ended a glittering international career on a high. 

12) Damian de Allende –

An absolute animal! He seems to be able to carry and make metres with every touch of the ball no matter who is in front of him. Part of a brilliant defensive unit as well and capped off a brilliant tournament individually with yet another powerful performance. 

11) Makazole Mapimpi – 

Josh Adams deserves recognition for his try against the All Blacks which meant he finished top of the try scoring pile with seven. However, Mapimpi was second in the list and this weekend produced a brilliant all-round performance. His try was the highlight, showing great pace and imagination to tear open the England defence and score the Boks first-ever try in a World Cup final. We knew how good he was with the ball in hand but he won his aerial duals as well, in what was just a showing of true class. 

10) Handre Pollard – 

Once again he was steady from the boot putting an early miss behind him to go on a score 22 of his side’s points and finish top scorer at the tournament. He was brilliant with ball in hand as well and put in some big hits throughout the contest. When he’s in this kind form there aren’t many better than him. 

9) Faf de Klerk –

Aaron Smith put in a big shift for the All Blacks but de Klerk continued his rise as a contender to be named the best No 9 on the planet. He ran the show from minute one, passing well and putting up some inch perfect kicks for his teammates. Much like in the semi-finals he showed that he is not afraid to take on a bigger man in a battle, putting in some huge hits on some of the most powerful players in the game. He is just a joy to watch. 

Forwards

1) Tendai Mtawariria – 

In the scrum the Springboks dominated and he was at the front of it, putting Mako Vunipola to the sword. He gave his all and made some important hits throughout. Showing exactly why he is nicknamed ‘the Beast’. Possibly his last game for the country and what a servant he has been. 

2) Malcolm Marx – 

Thrown into action much earlier than expected but stepped up plate with ease. Line-outs were perfect, slotted into the scrum perfectly and carried well. Rose to the occasion when asked and demonstrated his class. 

3) Frans Malherbe –

Again, won penalty after penalty for the Boks from the scrum! Impressive from minute one until he was taken off and continued to develop as a top-class prop. 

4) Eben Etzebeth – 

A massive, massive shift from the Springboks lock! Won his line-outs, carried well, smashed the opposition in the tackle and led throughout. He is vital to the Boks system and showed the world just why on Saturday. 

5) Brodie Retallick – 

Missed the start of the tournament through injury, only playing 30 minutes before the knock-out stages but managed a full 80 come the final weekend. Moved him to five as he had to be in the team. For such a big unit his handling skills are up there with some of the best backs in the world and dominated this game from the off against some of the best opporaters around. 

6) Siya Kolisi – 

Captain fantastic! Deserves a spot in the XV for his speech after the game alone! Although on the pitch he was calm, leading his troops from the front-foot throughout and was impossible to get by from an English perspective. There isn’t a player in the world that deserved to lift the trophy more than this man on Saturday. 

7) Pieter-Steph du Toit – 

Won his title of men’s player of the year 24 hours later and this performance may have swayed the voters. A world-class flanker! He hits opposition attackers with such power and determination, but is equally as effective in attack when his side need to make the hard yards. If he can continue like this he will go down as one of the greatest in his position. 

8) Duane Vermeulen – 

Some call him ‘Thor’ and on Saturday it was as though a film script was written for him and he grabbed it with both hands! He may not have the cape but he has the power and sheer work-rate of any Avenger! Nobody could get past him and when called upon he took the hard hits himself for his team. Man of the match on the day and rightly so, a monster of a performance from the big man.

Rugby World Cup

Women’s Rugby World Cup looks set to be postponed.

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World Rugby has made the difficult decision to recommend the postponement of Rugby World Cup 2021, scheduled to be hosted in New Zealand between 18 September-16 October, until next year. The recommendation will be considered by the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee on 8 and 9 March respectively.Play Video

While appreciating the recommendation is extremely disappointing for teams and fans, it has their interests at heart, and gives the tournament the best opportunity to be all it can be for them, all New Zealanders and the global rugby family.

The recommendation is based on the evolution of the uncertain and challenging global COVID-19 landscape. It has become clear in recent discussions with key partners including New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Government and participating unions, that, given the scale of the event and the COVID-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage.  

The challenges include uncertainty and the ability for teams to prepare adequately for a Rugby World Cup tournament both before and on arrival in New Zealand, and challenging global travel restrictions. 

World Rugby can assure teams, New Zealanders and the global rugby family that the recommendation to postpone the tournament will help to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2021 will be all it can be next year for players, fans and the rugby family – one of the great Rugby World Cups.

Further updates will be issued following the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee meetings next week.  

Statement Ends.

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RWC 2023 Pools confirmed.

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Confirmed.

How the draw worked

As host nation, France was drawn first and placed randomly in one of the four pools. The teams were then drawn randomly from each band, starting with Band 5 (Africa 1, Oceania 1, Asia / Pacific 1, Final Qualifier Winner), then Band 4 (Americas 1, Americas 2, Europe 1, Europe 2), then Band 3 (Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy), then Band 2 (Ireland, (France), Australia, Japan) and finally Band 1 (South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales). The first drawn in each band was placed in Pool A, the second in Pool B, the third in Pool C and the fourth in Pool D.


Draw seedings

Twelve of the 20 teams qualified automatically by finishing in the top three places of their Rugby World Cup 2019 pool. These 12 teams are: South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales, Ireland, France, Australia, Japan, Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy. Acknowledging the global COVID-19 impact on international rugby in 2020, these teams were seeded based on the World Rugby Men’s Rankings as of 1 January, 2020 and placed into the first three bands of four teams.

The remaining eight teams will come through the regional qualification process and were allocated for the draw into bands four and five based on relative strength. They are: Americas 1, Americas 2, Europe 1, Europe 2, Africa 1, Oceania 1, Asia / Pacific 1 and the Final Qualifier Winner.

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Qualification process set for Rugby World Cup 2023

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Image from World Rugby
  • Process designed to promote regional strength and the best teams to rugby’s showcase event
  • 12 teams already qualified owing to top three pool placing at RWC 2019
  • RWC 2023 on track to be a spectacular celebration of rugby and France


World Rugby has announced details of the qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.

Following the most competitive and widely-acclaimed Rugby World Cup to date in Japan, the qualification process is designed to deliver the top teams in the world to rugby’s showcase tournament, while promoting a genuine opportunity for all unions.

With 12 teams having secured their place at France 2023 courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools at RWC 2019, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers. The process will conclude with a four-team round-robin Final Qualification Tournament in November 2022 to determine the final qualifier.

The dates for events in 2021 will be announced in due course and will be subject to an anticipated easing of the COVID-19 situation.

The announcement follows consultation with unions and regions in January 2020 and a full review of performance at Rugby World Cup 2019, where rankings upsets and the impressive performances in particular of Japan, Fiji, Uruguay, Tonga and Georgia cut the performance gap, with the average winning margin between established and emerging unions decreasing in comparison with 2015 benchmarks.

The Americas will deliver two direct places, while Oceania will deliver a direct qualifier with a further direct place available following a play-off with Asia. The Rugby Europe Championship (two direct places), Rugby Africa Cup (one direct place) and Final Qualification Tournament (one direct place) will provide the other qualifiers. Further details are provided below.

RWC 2023 qualification principles

  • Americas: the Americas will qualify two teams by September 2022. The third best team in the region will enter the Final Qualification Tournament – Americas 1 & Americas 2
  • Europe: the existing Rugby Europe Championship will have two qualifying places, with the two best teams in March 2022 qualifying directly and the third placed entering the Final Qualification Tournament – Europe 1 & Europe 2 
  • Africa: the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 winner will qualify directly and the runner-up team will go to Final Qualification – Africa 1
  • Oceania: a home and away play-off between Tonga and Samoa in 2021 will determine the direct qualifier for the Oceania region. – Oceania 1
    The loser will then play the Oceania Rugby Cup 2021 winner in the highest ranked team’s country with the eventual winner contesting Asia / Pacific (see below) as Oceania 2
  • Asia / Pacific: the winner of the Asian Rugby Men’s Championship 2021 will play Oceania 2 home and away. The winner on aggregate will determine the qualifier and the loser will go to Final Qualification – Asia / Pacific 1
  • Final Qualification Tournament: the tournament in November 2022 will feature four teams playing in a round-robin format with the winner qualifying for RWC 2023 – Final Qualification winner


Teams already qualified: South Africa, England, New Zealand, Wales, Japan, France (host), Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina, Fiji

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “With the global pandemic having halted most rugby activity, confirmation of the global qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2023 provides a beacon of excitement for all, including players and fans.

“The process that has been developed via full consultation with our regional associations and member unions will provide a genuine opportunity for full member unions to qualify for our showcase men’s 15s event.

“Maximising existing regional competitions, the process is good for regions and unions in managing costs for organisers and participants alike, which is important as we all recover from the global pandemic.

“On behalf of World Rugby, I’d like to wish all teams involved the best of luck on their journey to France 2023.”

Rugby World Cup France 2023 CEO Claude Atcher added: “This qualification process gives emerging unions an opportunity to take part in our sport’s biggest competition.

“The success of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and performances by the host nation is a testimony of rugby’s expansion globally. As the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is about to be won, I welcome this optimistic prospect of reconnecting with the excitement of our sport. This is the start of our journey towards France 2023, which will be the best tournament ever delivered.”

Final details of the regional competition formats and dates will be announced in due course.

Official Press Release from World Rugby

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