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Our opinions on the top player and top game at the Rugby World Cup awards.


Tournament’s MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Richie Mo’unga from the Canterbury Rugby Club. He had a solid performance in the final, but truly shined in certain moments. My top picks for the tournament include his fellow All Blacks Ardie Savea and Aaron Smith, as well as Ireland’s Bundee Aki and South Africa’s Ox Nché.

GM Ardie Savea. Carried New Zealand at times during their defiant performance in the final and brings an intensity in close quarters that few can match. Sam Cane is the captain of the All Blacks but Savea is their leader.

Siya Kolisi is the captain of the South Africa team. He may not be the strongest, fastest, or most formidable player in the team or the tournament, but he could possibly be the best captain the game has ever seen. It is unimaginable to believe that the Springboks would have emerged victorious without his leadership.

Eben Etzebeth, a formidable force in every aspect. He not only displays incredible determination and strength for this South African team, but also serves as its foundation and emotional core. While there were other flawless players, none had the same level of impact as Etzebeth.

Eben Etzebeth is a dominant force in the game of rugby. While speed, passing skills, and tackling ability are important, there are deeper qualities that make a player stand out. Etzebeth’s mere presence on the field can have a significant impact on the outcome of a match, much like Martin Johnson was able to do. Being on the same team as players like Etzebeth is a source of pride for many.

Eben Etzebeth, right, goes up for a line-out during the final.

LMc Faf de Klerk. Eben Etzebeth or Pieter-Steph du Toit would be equally deserving but no one personifies the Springboks’ winning mentality more than their brilliant, niggly, downright annoying scrum-half. Profound impact off the bench, at times, before a masterful display in starting the final.

Breakthrough player

RK Nicolas Martins, Portugal. Os Lobos were a joy to watch and the 24-year-old Martins impressed with and without the ball. Athletic, rangy and fit, he should be playing at a higher level than second-tier French club rugby.

GM Jac Morgan, Wales. Honourable mentions for England’s Ben Earl and New Zealand’s Mark Tele’a but Morgan established himself as an elite back-rower in Wales’s impressive pool stage captain. Will be a mainstay for years to come.

AB Mark Tele’a, New Zealand. The All Black damn near turned that final around all on his own. His magnificent sidestep made him the hardest man to tackle in the tournament. It took three Springboks to bring him down pretty much every time he got the ball.

New Zealand’s Mark Tele’a in action versus South Africa.

Ben Earl, a native of England, was released by Eddie Jones and has since embarked on a remarkable journey. Although he has been playing as a No. 8 in this tournament, he may transition to a flanker position in the future. He has made quite an impression with his skills and is the type of player that a team can rely on.

Raffaele Storti from Portugal is a valuable asset to the French rugby system as it allows players from developing countries like Portugal to be a part of it through a more lenient visa process. Storti has been excelling while on loan with Beziers and his outstanding performance in the World Cup has caught the attention of Stade Français, who are now interested in bringing him back.

LMc George Martin from England was put into a semi-final game against South Africa and aided his team in aggressively challenging the eventual winners for 60 minutes. Does the image of a tough, determined Leicester lock leading England at a World Cup in Australia sound familiar?

Best match

The quarter-finals in Paris were exciting, especially the match between South Africa and Ireland. Out of all the games I saw live, the Ireland v South Africa match during the group stage was the most unforgettable. The Stade de France was filled with Irish fans, and their performances of “Zombie” and “Dirty Old Town” made it a memorable day.

France’s loss to South Africa in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup was a thrilling match, with the first half showcasing some spectacular plays. While the game became more intense and closely contested in the second half, it still provided plenty of excitement for viewers. Some may even argue that it was more exciting than New Zealand’s win over Ireland the day before.

The initial 40 minutes of the quarterfinal match between South Africa and France were reminiscent of the most remarkable half of rugby ever witnessed. Although the following half may not have reached the same level, it still stands as one of the most memorable moments in the sport’s history.

JL For tension, drama, importance, atmosphere and sheer dizzying technical quality, France v South Africa was about as good as sport gets.

MA There have been plenty of great matches (Wales v Fiji in the heat of Bordeaux springs to mind), but for ferocious, skilful, should-have-been-the-final breathlessness, Ireland 24-28 New Zealand took some beating. A shame the other example of that was also a quarter-final.

The match between LMc Japan and Argentina had a refreshing lack of the typical aggressive defense tactics that lead to victories. Instead, both teams focused on maintaining possession and utilizing wide plays, resulting in an exhilarating display. While there were mistakes made, it is important to remember that perfect execution does not always equal an exciting game.

Amato Fakatava of Japan sprints down the wing to register one of the tries of the tournament against Argentina.

Best try

In the match between South Africa and Scotland, RK Kurt-Lee Arendse scored the final point, but it was Manie Libbok’s impressive no-look diagonal kick pass to his teammate that made the moment stand out. It was a remarkable display of talent.

New Zealand’s GM Will Jordan had a strong performance against Ireland, scoring eight points. However, his play in the quarter-final stood out as the most impressive. Richie Mo’unga’s exceptional awareness and passing to set up Jordan’s opportunity was truly remarkable.

In the match between AB Amato Fakatava of Japan and Argentina, I would have chosen Aaron Smith’s score from Richie Mo’unga’s play in the last round if it weren’t for Wayne Barnes disallowing it due to a mistake. So instead, I have to go with Fakatava’s impressive chip and chase from 60m away.

JL Raffaele Storti, Portugal v Fiji. There could have been about six separate entries here, but this was probably the pick: a ridiculous counterattacking move that encapsulated everything this team was about.

MA Will Jordan, Ireland v New New Zealand There are always pretty ones, especially in the romps, but for the perfect balance of beauty and high stakes Jordan’s try in the second half against Ireland served notice that the All Blacks were in the mood again. Ireland never recovered.

LMc Kurt-Lee Arendse from South Africa faced off against Scotland. Libbok’s impressive no-look kick allowed Arendse to score while sprinting, making it a difficult move to defend against. Richie Mo’unga’s curved run that led to Aaron Smith’s disallowed point was deserving of winning the ultimate match – and likely would have accomplished just that.

Champagne moment

Portugal’s first-ever World Cup triumph was secured by RK’s last-minute winning try against Fiji. Patrice Lagisquet deserved to be recognized as one of the top coaches of the year.

It was an impressive feat for Portugal to secure their first-ever World Cup victory against Fiji, with Rodrigo Marta’s late try being the deciding factor. The win was well-deserved and provided a much-needed boost to their performance in the pool stage.

AB Portugal’s last-minute winner against Fiji at the tail end of the pool stages, a one point win, their first ever against a top nation, sealed with a wonderful late try by Rodrigo Marta and a nerveless conversion by Samuel Marques.

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JL England came close to defeating South Africa in the semi-final without any line breaks, which could have potentially ended the sport of rugby union and required a fresh start for everyone. It was a missed chance, indeed.

The try attempted by MA Jordan may have been crucial, but the quick inside pass made by Rieko Ioane to set up Leicester Fainga’anuku’s first score in the quarter-final was so rapid that we needed to see it again on replay to verify that it actually occurred. This level of skill and speed is only expected from the All Blacks.

Portugal narrowly defeated Fiji by one point in Toulouse, securing their first ever Rugby World Cup win. This was a result that everyone could support, especially since it was achieved through a unique and strategic approach, following their previous tie with Georgia.

Portugal’s Rodrigo Marta dives in to score the decisive try in a sensationa win against Fiji.

Biggest disappointment

RK Australia. I have never seen a more lacklustre Wallaby side than the one beaten 40-6 by Wales. It was the beginning of the end for Eddie Jones.

GM Australia has emerged victorious in the tournament twice, however, Eddie Jones made a controversial decision by selecting a non-traditional team. This resulted in key players like Michael Hooper being left out and Jones telling the Australian media to “punch themselves in the face”. His leadership during the disappointing campaign was criticized and he eventually resigned from his position.

Although I have no ill will towards the Springboks for their victory, AB France’s loss in the quarter-finals led to a more subdued and less lively tournament. It was almost as if the hosts had left the party and retired to their rooms.

France’s elimination from the tournament was expected to be a pivotal moment for them. This sentiment was shared by everyone, as the hosts were well aware of the stakes. Although the finale was spectacular, the energy of the tournament dwindled after their departure.

There is a tie between Italy and Argentina in the MA standings. While Argentina may have secured fourth place, they believe they are capable of more. They were defeated in the semi-finals and surprisingly unimpressive against England, who played with only 14 players. On the other hand, New Zealand dominated with a score of 96-17 and France beat Italy 60-7. There are no words to describe these results.

France players dejected at full time after losing their quarter-final.

France’s early elimination at the first knockout stage, along with the departure of Antoine Dupont and Fabien Galthié, dealt a major blow to the tournament’s excitement. The controversy surrounding South Africa’s use of HIAs in the second half only added to the disappointment for French rugby supporters.

Abiding memory

Reworded: It’s a shame that France and Ireland didn’t make it past the quarter-finals, as it would have sparked even more interest in the tournament among local fans.

GM Finally getting to Paris for the week of the semi-finals with both the hosts France and the best supported travelling team, Ireland, eliminated. England v South Africa and the Springboks against New Zealand were fine contests but if ever there was an embodiment of after the Lord Mayor’s show.

AB Among the many, oddly, I think it will be New Zealand’s Jordie Barrett’s tackle on Ireland’s Ronan Kelleher as he crossed the try-line in the 71st minute, four years of work turned to those few inches. It was one of the very best, and most painful examples, of how small the margins are.

The JL Referees are gesturing towards objects. They are also seen conversing with individuals in a room, while pointing to their ear. The topic of discussion appears to be referees and there seems to be a dispute occurring. We request for additional referees.

Referee Wayne Barnes of England talks to the New Zealand stand-in captain Ardie Savea after a scrum collapses versus South Africa.

There is a lot that we should remember: the rugby, the colorful atmosphere, the French culture, the delicious red meat, and the exquisite red wine. However, instead, we are left with the memory of a red card in the World Cup final. We had a feeling it would happen eventually, and that is truly disappointing.

The atmosphere in Paris during the quarter-final weekend, particularly for Ireland’s fans, created a truly exceptional experience for all rugby enthusiasts. In sports, you don’t always come out on top, but the memories from that weekend will stay with everyone forever.

Prediction for 2027

The top four teams at this competition – South Africa, New Zealand, France, and Ireland – will once again be the leading group in the next tournament.

Unfortunately, GM Eddie Jones’s Fiji team emerged victorious against Steve Borthwick’s England in the final match. In a more somber tone, we had previously praised the strength of the northern teams for two years, but once again South Africa and New Zealand proved to be formidable opponents.

After 23 years, there will be a new winner of the Webb Ellis Cup, but it will not be France, Ireland, or Wales. Instead, Argentina, led by new head coach Felipe Contepomi, has finally completed their team with the missing piece.

The victorious team from the Northern Hemisphere.

In addition to reducing the number of red cards, which could potentially be achieved by decreasing the minimum height for tackles to avoid sending players off for accidental collisions, Fiji is expected to continue performing well. With a professional team now established on the islands, they have some of the most skilled players. With four more years of development, they should be in a good position.

It may be unwise to make any predictions other than a southern hemisphere team winning, but it is also difficult to imagine Australia, as hosts, overcoming their struggles. Let’s embrace foolishness and declare that France will use the knowledge gained from 2023 to finally come out as champions.

Source: theguardian.com