The famed French publication L'Équipe has named its men’s international XV of the year.
It will be to nobody’s surprise that the only Irish inclusion is Tadhg Furlong at tighthead, but there are a few Irishmen that could arguably feel hard done by.
In total there are four New Zealanders, four French, three South Africans, and one each from Ireland, England, Wales, and Australia.
In the centre, the world’s best 13 has been moved to 12 to accommodate New Zealand’s Rieko Ioane, despite the options of inside centres who have had outstanding years. World Rugby Player of the Year nominee Samu Kerevi would have been a smarter choice, as would Robbie Henshaw or Damian De Allende.
The other Irishman who would not have looked out of place is Hugo Keenan, although it may take another season for his performances to get the plaudits they deserve outside of Ireland. It also doesn’t help that he was not part of the Lions tour. However, Jordie Barrett had an excellent year and is more than worthy of inclusion.
Louis Rees-Zammit is another strange inclusion considering the year Duhan Van Der Merwe had. The South-African born Scotsman finished as top try scorer in the Six Nations and rightfully started ahead of both Zammit and his compatriot Josh Adams for the Lions.
L'Équipe vs World Rugby
There are six variations from World Rugby’s team of the year. World Rugby included the likes of Wyn Jones, Malcolm Marx, Beauden Barrett, Makazole Mapimpi, and Stuart Hogg, in what was a slightly less controversial selection.
Overall both World Rugby's and L’Equipe’s teams are fairly reasonable efforts, and as is the case with such end of the year XV’s, it is impossible to choose one that will have unanimous approval.
L'Équipe's World Team of the Year:
- Cyril Baille
- Julien Marchand
- Tadhg Furlong
- Maro Itoje
- Eben Etzebeth
- Siya Kolisi
- Michael Hooper
- Ardie Savea
- Antoine Dupont
- Romain Ntamack
- Louis Reese-Zammit
- Lukhanyo Am
- Rieko Ioane
- Will Jordan
- Jordie Barrett