The dust has settled on the 2023 Rugby World Cup, with South Africa retaining their title as World Champions. The Springboks defeated the All Blacks in last Saturday’s epic finale, with South Africa writing themselves into the history books. The Springboks become the first nation to win four Rugby World Cups, and only the second side to win the tournament back-to-back.
The 2023 Rugby World Cup was a fantastic tournament, and presented an incredible array of on-field talent. France was truly spoiled as a host nation, as the top stars of international men’s rugby put on star-making performances, match after match. Narrowing down the on-field heroics for a 23-man team of the tournament has by no means been an easy feat, yet we have given it a go.
RUCK’s Rugby World Cup Team of the Tournament, differs to the recently announced World Rugby Men’s 15 Dream Team of the Year. Our squad only focuses on the performances during the 2023 Rugby World Cup, without any previous successes ahead of the competition taken into consideration. We have also included a shortlist of honourable mentions in each position, for the stand-out players who narrowly missed out on a spot in our match-day 23.
So, let’s run through our picks on who made it into our squad. Here is RUCK’s Team of the Tournament for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Honourable Mentions: Freddie Steward (England), Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa), Hugo Keenan (Ireland)
15. Thomas Ramos (France)
14. Emilliano Boffelli (Argentina)
11. Will Jordan (New Zealand)
We begin this Team of the Tournament in the back-three, with a trio of stand-out talents starting off our side. Beginning on the wings, Will Jordan finished his Rugby World Cup with a stunning eight tries for the All Blacks, equalising the record for a single Rugby World Cup campaign, set by Jonah Lomu in 1999. Jordan was one try away from surpassing Lomu’s record, and should have done in the closing moments against Argentina.
However, his All Blacks halfback Richie Mo’unga didn’t send the pass out wide to the unmarked Jordan, and decided to go alone in a missed opportunity. An incredible talent that will likely be back for more in four years time, Jordan is a serious contender to break Lomu and Bryan Habana’s shared record, of 15 career tries at the Rugby World Cup.
At just 25-years-old, Jordan is more than on track to achieve this feat. The Crusaders star has burst onto the international scene, and is expected to retain his spot in the New Zealand back-three at either wing or fullback, once the new Head Coach comes into the fray, he is just that talented. It could well have come down to a coin-toss for the ring wing, with Emilliano Boffelli narrowly pipping France’s Damien Penaud to the starting XV. Penaud takes a seat on our substitutes bench, as the Argentine was instrumental in the Pumas’ extended World Cup run.
Argentina entered the Rugby World Cup as dark horses, that favoured their odds to graduate out of Pool D. However, an opening round defeat to a form-finding England set back their plans, with Boffelli at the helm to kick the all-important points to reach the semi-finals. The Edinburgh man brought his metronomic kicking to France, and slotted 57 points from the tee. Boffelli also crossed over for two tries at the World Cup, with important pool stage scores coming in the crucial wins over Samoa and Japan.
France’s Thomas Ramos is our pick at fullback, after a scintillating tournament. Despite Fabien Galthie’s side exiting the competition at the quarter-finals, Ramos ended his campaign as the tournament’s highest points scorer, which was eventually overtaken by England’s Owen Farrell. Ramos slotted 69 points from the tee, and added a try in France’s one-way demolition of Italy, to close out Pool A. The French fullback was amongst the top performers for Les Bleus, as he contributed mesmerising running lines in attack, and a resilient last line in the French defence.