Picking A Current World Rugby XV

The best of the best.

Picking a World XV in rugby is always difficult as you simply can’t keep everybody happy. Roughly half the team picks itself and can’t really be argued. But as for the rest, it’s purely down to opinion.

That being said, I’ve decided to have a crack at it to see what I can come up with. I also realise I’ve included Jonathan Davies, despite the Welsh centre being injured at the moment. I’ve also included Sean O’Brien, so for the purpose of this, we’re going to ignore injuries.

What I’m looking at mostly is form since the beginning of 2017. I think that’s a good solid base to work off.

In terms of the front-row, I don’t think you can really look past Vunipola, Coles and Furlong. All three are outstanding, and lead the way in their respective positions pretty comfortable in my opinion. Maybe there’s a shout for Springbok Malcolm Marx ahead of Coles, but perhaps too soon for the South African.

In the second-row I’ve gone with Maro Itoje to partner Brodie Retallick. A close call between him and Fijian Leone Nakarawa. But the Englishman just about gets the nod for me. Sam Whitelock is also right up there.

The back-row is a difficult one. So much talent to choose from here, but I’ve got for a combination of O’Brien, Hooper and Read. Again, it’s a matter of opinion here. But for me Hooper is the best openside in the world, Kieran Read is an outstanding player and captain, and O’Brien is unstoppable when on form.

In the backline, there might be a few controversial decisions, notably Keith Earls. But allow me to explain myself. No player in European rugby has scored more Test tries (8) than Keith Earls since the beginning of 2017. Only Folau (12) and Ioane (11) have scored more. For me, he just edges Elliot Daly, but again, it’s just a matter of opinion.

At halfback you can’t look beyond Murray and Barrett and in the centre then you’ve got Davies and Farrell, who have both been outstanding in recent seasons. Earls is joined in the back-three by Folau and Ioane. Hogg is unlucky to miss out to the Australian.

If you want to go down the line of swapping the back-three around, maybe you could look at swapping Folau onto the wing ahead of Earls in order to make room for the ever-impressive Hogg.

World XV

1. Mako Vunipola
2. Dane Coles
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Brodie Retallick
5. Maro Itoje
6. Sean O’Brien
7. Michael Hooper
8. Kieran Read
9. Conor Murray
10. Beauden Barrett
11. Rieko Ioane
12. Owen Farrell
13. Jonathan Davies
14. Keith Earls
15. Israel Folau