Six Irish players make damn impressive 'World XV' that would take some beating
'This was another really close call... '
When you are compiling a World XV of the best players operating on the globe, every position will require some serious mulling.
Leading Welsh rugby writer Simon Thomas tackled the massive undertaking, this week, after the summer series of Test matches between the leading rugby nations.
When all the Test encounters were done, Ireland had trumped New Zealand, England beat Australia, Argentina edged out Scotland, Wales fell to South Africa and an under-strength France beat Japan. We also had Samoa winning the Pacific Nations Cup and Chile beating the USA over two legs to automatically qualify for the 2023 World Cup [the Americans get one last bite at the cherry, later this year].
Given the series victories for Ireland, South Africa and England, it is no seismic surprise that those three nations take up 12 positions in Thomas' 'World XV right now'. The 'right now' part is relevant, as France coach Fabien Galthie gave summers off to leading players like Antoine Dupont, Gregory Alldritt, Cyrill Baille, Romain Ntamack, and more.
Six Irish players make 'World XV'
By only playing Japan twice, France did not gain any world ranking points on the final weekend of the summer series Tests. It allowed Ireland to overtake them atop the rankings, but there is little separating the sides.
While the old Six (and Five) Nations rivals were the current standard-bearers in world rugby, 15 months is a long, long time and much can change before the 2023 World Cup has a winner. Ireland - World Rugby Team of the Year and Grand Slam champions in 2018 - can tell you all about that.
Both sides are the teams to figure out, catch, beat and beat up over the next year or so. Fabien Galthie, Andy Farrell and their coaching staffs will be well aware of the need to keep improving and adding tactical wrinkles.
When it comes to the 'World XV right now' of Simon Thomas, for Wales Online, it only features one France player - winger Damian Penaud. The other winger named is Emiliano Boffelli of Argentina, while Freddie Steward of England is fullback. Jamison Gibson-Park, Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw are named in the backline, along with the delightful and devastating Lukhanyo Am.
There are three Irish players in the pack, two from South Africa, the English duo of Ellis Genge and Courtney Lawes, who bumped out Peter O'Mahony, and the sole All Blacks inclusion is Ardie Savea.
SIMON THOMAS' WORLD XV
15. Freddie Steward (England)
14. Damian Penaud (France)
13. Lukhanyo Am (South Africa)
12. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
11. Emiliano Boffelli (Argentina)
10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (Ireland)
1. Ellis Genge (England)
2. Malcolm Marx (South Africa)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
4. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
5. Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)
6. Courtney Lawes (England)
7. Josh van der Flier (Ireland)
8. Ardie Savea (New Zealand)
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