With the URC's regular season now over and the standings set in stone, it's been a phenomenal year for the Irish provinces with all four going through to the quarter-finals and Leinster and Ulster finishing at the top of the table.
Irish rugby legend Stephen Ferris's URC team of the season reflects just that too, with seven of the fifteen hailing from these shores. Leinster dominate that side with four of the fifteen while Munster fans will probably feel hard done by with just one inclusion in the dream team.
While Ferris's team might appear to be missing a couple of huge names, the former Ulster forward stipulated that players had to have played a reasonable amount of games in the URC. Ferris set that standard at around ten games ruling out the likes of Sexton, Sheehan and Furlong from inclusion.
15) Kurt-Lee Arendse - Bulls - South Africa
Arendse just about pips Hugo Keenan who didn't play enough URC to feature in the team, with the South African getting Ferris's last pick.
14) Darcy Graham - Edinburgh - Scotland
Graham has ten tries in ten appearances for Edinburgh and despite their poor season, Graham was a standout player in all the games he appeared in.
⚡️💨 Darcy Graham gets Edinburgh up and running!#URC #ULSvEDIpic.twitter.com/zIFffGwR7w
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) April 21, 2023
13) Gary Ringrose - Leinster - Ireland
Ringrose's inclusion needs little explanation, in Stephen's books he's 'the best outside centre in world rugby' and it's very hard to disagree with that considering the season he's having.
12) Stafford McDowall - Glasgow Warriors - Scotland
McDowall made his mark as soon as he got his chance in the centre this year and has been phenomenal since, leaving Glasgow with the issue of having too much quality in 12 and 13.
11) James Lowe - Leinster - Ireland
With his brilliant kicking ability, his ability to finish tries and how big a player he is for Leinster, James Lowe gets the spot on the left wing.
10) Ross Byrne - Leinster - Ireland
Byrne bags the out half spot after a 'prolific' season with Leinster with an average kick success rate of about 95% in the URC: Exactly what you want from your ten.
9) Grant Williams - Sharks - South Africa
With a number of electric tries against the league's top teams in the latter part of the season, Williams has earned the scrumhalf spot.
1) Steven Kitshoff - DHL Stormers - South Africa
Kitshoff captains the Stormers who finished third in the URC and held Leinster to a home draw this season. As Ferris points out he's a big game player who seems to show up when it matters. While Ulster might have singed him, any team would make space for a player of his calibre.
2) Tom Stewart - Ulster - Ireland
Stewart currently holds the try-scoring record in the URC with 16 tries making up 80 points for Ulster, that alone is enough to get the 22-year-old into the side.
Tom Stewart scores his second Ulster try of the match and it's back to one-point game. Ulster 19-20 Bulls. #RTErugby pic.twitter.com/SB3wZuIZE8
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) March 25, 2023
3) Finlay Bealham - Connacht - Ireland
Seventh place Connacht's sole player on the team, Bealham has been incredible for Connacht. Ferris paid him the ultimate compliment saying his set piece was 'arguably one of the best around' giving Bealham his spot at tighthead.
4) Ruben Van Heerden - DHL Stormers - South Africa
For Ferris Van Heerden just about pips James Ryan in the second row with the South African lock offering sheer brute force around the pitch.
5) Federico Ruzza - Benneton - Italy
A quality operator Ruzza seemed unstoppable at times this season, delivering consistency day in and day out across the board, with one particularly stellar performance against Ferris's own Ulster.
6) Sebastian Negri - Benneton - Italy
Negri gets the nod from Ferris for his consistency game to game in the URC and specifically what he brings to the table for Benneton in huge gain line carries and ball carrying that's strikes fear in tacklers.
7) Scott Penny - Leinster - Ireland
'The most consistent player in the league' according to Ferris, Penny takes the openside flanker spot after a phenomenal season with Leinster combing 147 tackles with over a 90% tackle success rate and five tries as the cherry on top making him the only real choice.
Another innovative tap move from Leinster, and another try from the machine that is Scott Penny 🔥pic.twitter.com/daT3TdCaNU
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) March 4, 2023
8) Gavin Coombes - Munster - Ireland
Munster's Gavin Coombes makes the side based off his extraordinary try-scoring ability, Coombes was pivotal to Munsters improved run of form in the second half of the season.
Whether this URC team would have what it takes to beat first-placed Leinster who have only lost one game this season we're not quite sure. However, Ferris has chosen a serious outfit here with plenty of quality from across the board, and I certainly think they'd be a hard bet side.
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