Arguably the greatest-ever Rugby World Cup has finished and here Sport360’s Andrew Binner looks back at the players who lit England 2015 up. Do you agree? Have your say using #360Fans.
15 – BEN SMITH (NZL)
14 – SANTIAGO CORDERO (ARG)
Argentina have always had a fearsome scrum but in 2015 the Pumas announced themselves as one of rugby’s finest attacking sides and one of their most potent threats was that of winger Cordero. The former sevens player showed an unbelievable turn of pace to rack up a whopping 514 metres with ball in hand.
13 – JESSE KRIEL (RSA)
It was an unfortunate injury to Springbok skipper that handed Kriel his chance in the starting XV and the Bulls centre did not disappoint. The burly 21-year-old has well and truly solved something of a problem position for South Africa since the retirement of Jaque Fourie with his enormous strength in the tackle and ability to break the gain line with every touch.
12 – MA’A NONU (NZL)
A well-deserving recipient of a try in the final, the dread-locked centre had to be at the top of his game to keep Sonny Bill Williams out of the team. While still demonstrating all the strength and power of his early years in professional rugby, Nonu showed a more varied playing-style with a cultured boot and enhanced passing skills to make the jersey his own.
11 – JULIAN SAVEA (NZL)
It took the bulldozing winger a couple of matches to find his best form, but once he did the Hurricane was unstoppable. With eight tries in total (including a hat-trick in the quarter-final against France) Savea continues to show remarkable similarities to the great Jonah Lomu which says an enormous amount about the winger.
10 – DAN CARTER (NZL)
A special mention must go to Argentina fly-half and tournament top-scorer Nicolas Sanchez who was integral to his team’s fantastic run and at 27, will hope to lead his team to even higher honours at Japan 2019. However this World Cup belonged to one man in Dan Carter, who after two failed World Cup campaigns on a personal note, finally got his fairy-tale ending.
9 – FUMIAKI TANAKA (JPN)
Japan surpassed all expectations with three group-stage wins and relied heavily on the tactical nous of their little general Tanaka. With an eye for a gap, he left plenty of flankers chasing shadows while he punched well above his weight on defence and displayed a mature tactical kicking game to get the Brave Blossoms playing in the right areas of the field.
1 – SCOTT SIO (AUS)
Australia’s scrum has gone from zero to hero at the World Cup and Sio was central to its cause. The mobile prop missed Australia’s semi-final win over Argentina with injury and the Wallaby attacking platform suffered as a result.
2 – AGUSTIN CREEVY (ARG)
The Argentina captain was simply inspiring with his work-rate and tackle count around the field and personified his team’s relentless work-ethic. However it was in attack where the 30-year-old drew the most plaudits because of his ability to draw defenders and offload like a centre.
3 – SEKOPE KEPU (AUS)
The final third of Australia’s powerful scrimmaging unit proved that he is so much more than a lump who is there to push. Having trimmed-down significantly before the tournament Kepu’s work-rate was greatly improved, regularly reaching double figures for ball-carries to help Australia’s backs cause havoc.
4 – BRODIE RETALLICK (NZL)
While the giant lock did not quite replicate the unbelievable form that saw him crowned World Rugby player of the year in 2014, his consistency at the set-piece and in the loose make him easily the most effective lock in the tournament.
5 – LOOD DE JAGER (RSA)
Regularly topping the tackling and ball-carrying charts for South Africa, his consistency despite his youth means that he just edges compatriot Eben Etzebeth here. However at 22 and 24 respectively, this duo could potentially become one of the greatest second-row partnerships ever.
6 – SCOTT FARDY (AUS)
The bearded Wallaby was the unsung hero of the Australian back row. Fardy could always be found at the bottom of a ruck using his uncompromising physicality to disrupt opposition’s attempts to generate quick ball. Fardy’s work at the kick-off turned the restart into something of an attacking weapon for Australia.
7 – RICHIE MCCAW (NZL)
Steve Hansen described McCaw as ‘simply the greatest All Black ever’ and it is difficult to disagree with the New Zealand coach. McCaw, 34, rolled back the years and overcome many injury setbacks to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a second time on Saturday, and rugby fans will be pleased that he has not announced any retirement plans just yet.
8 – DAVID POCOCK (AUS)
Australian coach Michael Cheika’s decision to bring back David Pocock at number eight was perhaps one of the greatest tactical decisions ever made in a World Cup. Pocock was by some distance the player of the tournament after almost single-handedly defeating several teams on his own. If there was a turnover crown, Pocock would have just taken it from McCaw.