• Home
  • /
  • Rugby
  • /
  • The Consensus Best XV From A Great Opening World Cup Weekend

The Consensus Best XV From A Great Opening World Cup Weekend

The Consensus Best XV From A Great Opening World Cup Weekend
By Conor O'Leary
Share this article

What an opening weekend of the Rugby World Cup that was. It started off with an entertaing performance from Fiji, before Ireland reassured fans with a clinical rout. But that pales in comparison to the events in Brighton were Japan recorded one of the top ten shocks of all time.

Players, fans, and everyone else went nuts. So what players stood out? We've compiled selections for the team of the tournament from five sources - the42, the Telegraph, Bleacher Report, Midi Olympique, as well as our own XV to compile the best XV of the opening three days of action.

15. Ayumu Goromaru (Japan)

Goromaru remains the third youngest player to have ever played for Japan, and after a ten-year career - he's still giving his all for the Brave blossoms. 24 points is a great haul for the full-back who was absolutely outstanding, getting on the end of a brilliant try to level the scores late in the second half.

Goromaru makes the side with three selections from five teams polled.

14. Mike Brown (England)

Moved onto the wing to accomodate Goromaru, but no less deserving of recognition. His season was cut short after a horror concussion, and thankfully he hasn't lost any of his abilities. Brown had a massive 191 metres with ball in hand, and sparked the late rally that got England the vital bonus point.

13. Cory Allen (Wales)

The only player in the first week to score a hat-trick, it's unfortunate that a hamstring injury picked up will rule him out of the tournament. Allen cut through the Uruguayan defence, and three selections from five give him the spot over his Welsh team mate Scott Williams.

12. Juan Martin Hernandez (Argentina)

Argentina's hero of the 2007 World Cup was outstanding again on his return to the competition after missing 2011 through injury. Hernandez was a big reason why the Pumas pushed New Zealand so close, as the Argentines cut through the New Zealand midfield defence.


Hernandez narrowly won the vote over New Zealand super sub Sonny Bill Williams who changed that game with his impact of the bench.

11. Nemani Nadolo (Fiji)

The world now knows who the big man is. As hotels try to accomodate his needs, opposition defences have to gameplan to stop the 130kg beast.

Viewers fell in love with the guy, and he's an easy selection over Japan's Matsushima.


10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)

In a landslide, Johnny Sexton won this vote with four out of five ahead of Freddie Michalak. It was the Sexton we know and love. Our hearts were in our collective mouths for his long sprint to the tryline, that capped a commanding performance.

Now don't scare us like that again.

9. Fumiaki Tanaka (Japan)

Now the world knows about the hero that is Fumiaki Tanaka. The smallest player in the competition is an absolute hero.


He was awarded man of the match against South Africa, and it's not hard to see why. His service was snappy, he was a nuisance at the breakdown, and there was a noticeable decline in Japan's speed of play when Tanaka came off.

Aaron Smith was outstanding for New Zealand, but it's his Highlanders understudy that got the majority of the votes.

1. Campese Ma'afu (Fiji)

England's scrum was meant to be their strongest feature. It was meant to steamroll anything that got its way. And yet, Fiji proved the immovable object. Former Cardiff Blues prop, and brother of Wallaby Salesi was brilliant, winning penalty after penalty at the scrum by dominating Dan Cole.


That just doesn't happen.

He drew with Marcos Ayerza with two picks each, but wins on our tiebreak.

2. Guilhem Guirado (France)

The good France turned up at this World Cup, sending a warning signal to Ireland. Central to their cause was their ball-handling hooker Guilhem Guirado, who shone in the loose. He ran over and around the Italians, and they could not catch up with him.


Two selections for Guirado was enough to get him in over Tom Youngs, Agustin Creevy, and Scott Baldwin.

3. Kensuke Hatakeyama (Japan)

South Africa are renowned as the most fearsome scrum in the world. A nation of giants were meant to swat aside the stereotypically small Japanese team.

But that didn't stop them. The Japanese have the best technically sound scrum in the world, and they dismantled the powerful South Africans. Kensuke Hatakeyama more than easily dealt with the best loosehead prop in the world Tendai Mtawarira.

That earns him three selections ahead of French pair Slimani and Nicolas Mas.

4. Iain Henderson (Ireland)

What a colossus the Ulsterman was. Could easily have been man of the match, and has made quite an impression. He's pushing hard for a starting spot for Ireland, and earns this spot easily with four of five selections ahead of Joe Launchbury.

5. Hitoshi Ono (Japan)

The Japanese second row was outstanding, and one moment captures this more than ever. In the final moments of the game as the Blossoms were chasing a win, Japan boldly went for the corner. Against the fearsome lineout that included the legend that is Victor Matfield - Japan had faith in hooker Shota Horie and Ono. A class act.

Three picks for Ono ahead of his locking partner Luke Thompson and current World Rugby player of the year Brodie Retallick.

6. Michael Leitch (Japan)

The Japanese captain was outstanding. It's not surprising given how dominant he was for the Waikato Chiefs he was in Super Rugby this season. Leitch scored the opening Japan try, and had the balls to go for the win instead of securing an historic draw.

His ball-carrying was outstanding, and was almost a unanimous selection.

7. Mamuka Gorgodze (Georgia)

Gorgodze is the reason why Georgia upset Tonga in Pool C. That win gives them a real chance of finishing third in their pool and securing automatic qualification for the next World Cup.

Somehow French publication Midi Olympique decided that Sean O'Brien was better, but we can't deny Godzilla.

8. Louis Picamoles (France)

For as good as France were, their impressive No. 8 rolled back the years and put in a stellar performance. He was the centre of all the good French play, and while he may have made some bad decisions, he's overall play was good enough for two votes over Japan's Mafi, Argentina' Lobbe, and Fiji's Qera.

See Also: Ireland Player Ratings: Ireland Cut Loose In Opening World Cup Game
See Also: The Shocked South African Media Reaction to That Japan Loss
Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are subscribed now!

Share this article

Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com