Irish stars outnumber All Blacks in Team of the Year selection
The unluckiest lad of all is surely Jacob Stockdale.
A Six Nations try-scoring record, a key role in the series win over Australia and a matchwinning try against the All Blacks in Dublin. 2017/18 for Jacob Stockdale also saw him equalling Tommy Bowe's previous record for tries in a season (club and country) when he ran in 20 for the cause.
Pretty damned good, but not good enough to displace Rieko Ioane in another end of year 'Best Team' selection. Ioane scored 11 tries in 11 games (10 starts) and was announced as No.11 (fittingly) in the BT Sport Team of the Year.
Having already made the Rugby World 'Best XV', Ioane pips Stockdale to the post despite his All Blacks side losing out to the Ulster winger's try at the Aviva Stadium last month.
BT put the call out for a Team of the Year and received over 50,000 votes before announcing their selection. Here is how the team breaks down in term of nationalities:
- Ireland - 7
- New Zealand - 4
- South Africa - 4
- Wales - 1
Ireland already won Team of the Year at the World Rugby awards in Monaco, last month, but finishing with seven selections to New Zealand's four still seems somewhat bizarre. That's just our Irish mentality, but it is definitely something we could get used to.
BT's Best XV includes five forwards - Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan of Leinster with the Munster duo of Peter O'Mahony and CJ Stander.
Johnny Sexton is the starting outhalf in this fans' selection with Connacht centre Bundee Aki in midfield beside Jonathan Davies of Wales. Keeping Ioane company are fellow All Blacks Willie Le Roux, Faf de Klerk, Siya Kolisi and Malcolm Marx.
5️⃣0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ votes later, we have our Team of the Year 👊
A big thank you to all who voted, there were some very close calls...
And some not so close!
Here is the final XV as voted for by YOU 🏉 pic.twitter.com/WhjW0VTEeC
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) December 2, 2018
Could we have argued for any more Irish inclusions? Stockdale, of course, and Keith Earls.
You could make a case for Dan Leavy, too, while Conor Murray only misses out because injury cost him of Test matches in November. Can't have it all, we grudgingly suppose.