Johnny Sexton the only Irish player to make World Cup 'Best XV' so far 3 months ago

Johnny Sexton the only Irish player to make World Cup 'Best XV' so far

Rule No.1: ALWAYS make room for Cheslin Kolbe.

This weekend sees the pool stages of the 2019 Rugby World Cup wrap up and there are still six spots in the quarter finals up for grabs.

Only England and France are automatically qualified for the knock-out stages but New Zealand and South Africa have one foot and 80% of the other foot through to the quarters. Australia and Wales look home and hosed too.

Ireland may yet have their final pool game against Samoa disrupted by Typhoon Hagibis, due to make landfall on Saturday, although some weather tracking has the typhoon hitting Tokyo hard, as opposed to Fukuoka.

There is still a lot to play for but, after almost three weeks of action, several players have caught our eye. On the latest episode of Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby [from 52:00 below], Barry Murphy, Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flannery debated the 'Best XV' of the tournament so far.

 (Photo by Kaz Photography/Getty Images)

"I would say that Cheslin Kolbe is probably the best player in the world at the moment," says Flannery. "He is unbelievable, man. I'm telling you, he was unplayable against Italy. Did you see his first try? He got the ball off a long pass and had a guy right in front of him. He stepped off his right foot to come in off the touchline and, as he was coming down, loaded his left foot and was back out again. So it was in, out, back in and he finished in the corner."

So, it was to Trimble's detriment, that he selected a Best XV that did not contain the Springbok winger:

1. Joe Marler (England), 2. Ken Owens (Wales), 3. Kirill Gotovtsev (Russia); 4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), 5. Sam Whitelock (New Zealand); 6. Michael Hooper (Australia), 7. Ardie Savea (New Zealand), 8. Billy Vunipola (England); 9. Gareth Davies (Wales), 10. Handre Pollard (South Africa); 11. Alivereti Raka (France), 12. Anton Lienert-Brown (New Zealand), 13. Timothy Lafaele (Japan), 14. Kotaro Matsushima (Japan); 15. Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)

Murphy's selection had a few different calls but his front row shouts, a Fijian in the back row and bumping Pollard from his team all went in his favour.

There was a switch of wings for Kolbe but Flannery swayed in this team's favour as the South African speed demon simply had to be involved. Here is the Barry Murphy XV:

WORLD CUP BEST XV (So far... )

15. Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
14. Kotaro Matsushima (Japan)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (New Zealand)
12. Manu Tuilagi (England)
11. Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa)
10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
9. Gareth Davies (Wales)

1. Joe Moody (New Zealand)
2. Ken Owens (Wales)
3. Allan Alaalatoa (Australia)
4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
5. Pieter Steph Du Toit (South Africa)
6. Ardie Savea (New Zealand)
7. Peceli Yato (Fiji)
8. Kieran Read (New Zealand)

Other players mentioned over the course of the debate were Lomano Lemeki (Japan), Ellis Genge (England), Antoine Dupont (France), Faf du Klerk (South Africa), Yutaka Nagare (Japan) and, to Flannery's mind, the "incredible" Scott Barrett.


The latest episode sees Barry Murphy, Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flannery go full-on rugby chat, from start to finish.