There’s always going to be a great deal of debate over who the best players and teams are in world rugby as club and country loyalties encourage a great deal of bias. Choosing a World XV is always going to be a hard task for this very reason, and even when trying to remain completely neutral there will always be plenty of people who disagree.
Anyway I’ve tried putting together a World XV that I think represents the best possible team imaginable in rugby today. Let me know what you think of the team in the comments section below and feel free to select your own World XV.
15. Israel Folau
The only debate in regards to putting Folau into the team was whether he should fit in at full back or on the wing. Possibly the best player in rugby right now he has all the attributes necessary to ensure he would be a key member of any team he plays in.
14. Willie le Roux
For a while I considered including le Roux at full back, however in the end opted to place him on the wing were he can still be a threat. He has become the Springboks most potent offensive weapon over the last 18 months combining skill and pace with a play making ability that would see him play effectively at fly half.
13. Ben Smith
It was impossible to leave Smith out of this team, the only debate was in where to include him. Due to other options available I’ve squeezed him in at outside centre which is possibly not his best position, however his footballing ability means he would be a key asset to any team wherever he plays.
12. Matt Giteau
The forgotten man of Australian rugby, Giteau has been the heartbeat of Toulon’s domestic and European double winning side this year, even if he has been overshadowed by Jonny Wilkinson’s retirement. Giteau is solid in defence but his real skill lies in his playmaking ability as he brings wide players into the game.
11. Julian Savea
In my opinion Savea is currently the best winger in the world right now. His ability to run round, through and even over defenders is something to behold and it seems no matter where he is on the pitch there’s a good chance he’s going to make it over the try line.
10. Aaron Cruden
Fly half was possibly the toughest selection in this team with no obvious stand-out contender. I have gone for Cruden in this instance as I feel his attacking instinct would make him the ideal man for helping to unleash the offensive abilities of those outside him.
9. Aaron Smith
Smith has emerged as probably the best scrum half in world rugby since the 2011 World Cup. His quick thinking keeps the opposition defence on their toes and ensures he gets his team on the front foot with quick-tap penalties. His distribution isn’t too bad either!
1. Cian Healy
For me Healy has developed into one of the very best props in world rugby over the past couple of years. His scrummaging has come on enormously to compliment his impressive ball carrying abilities in the loose and effectiveness on the ground.
2. Bismarck du Plessis
It seems that on current form there isn’t another hooker in world rugby whose anywhere near du Plessis. A ferocious scrummage who offers a whole lot more to the team that just effective set-piece playing. His ferocious tackling and ball carrying is enough to put any opponent (apart from maybe Etzebeth) on the back foot.
3. Owen Franks
It seems the change in scrummaging laws last year has had a mixed impact on the top tightheads. Whilst some have improved dramatically, many of those who were once considered the best in the world have dropped off somewhat. Franks seems to have been one of the ones who has had no trouble with either though.
4. Brodie Retallick
The All Blacks lock may look like he is in the twilight of his career however at just 23 years of age the attritional lock has his best years ahead of him. He brings and aggression to New Zealand’s second row that has added grit to an already impressive pack.
5. Courtney Lawes
The second spot in the engine room was a toss up between Eben Etzebeth and Lawes, however the Englishman’s greatly improved line-out ability sees him get the nod. Never afraid of making a big hit whilst also causing danger whenever he gets ball in hand, Lawes looks to be the complete second row England need.
6. Mamuka Gorgodze
If Gorgodze played for any team inside of the IRB top 10 there’s no doubt he would be considered one of the games very best at the moment. His dexterity across the back row and never say die attitude have been the key component in an impressive Montpellier side and has seen him clinch a move to big spending Toulon.
7. Michael Hooper
To have been handed the Wallabies captaincy at the age of just 22 shows just how far Hooper has progressed over the past few years. The fact nobody has really noticed the absence of David Pocock is perhaps even more of a compliment to Hooper who looks like he would be comfortable in almost any position on the pitch.
8. Kieran Read
Read may have missed a large chunk of the season owing to concussion issues however there’s no doubting the current IRB Player of the Year’s ability. Read is possibly the most complete player in world rugby right now and has an impact on games no matter were on the field he is lurking.
I’m sure there will be plenty of you out there who disagree with my selections so make sure you add your own in the comments section below…