Team of the Week: Rugby World Cup Final and Bronze Medal Match - Ruck

Team of the Week: Rugby World Cup Final and Bronze Medal Match

The dust has settled on the 2023 Rugby World Cup, with the final weekend of action in the books. The Springboks return home to South Africa as ‘Bokke-to-Bokke’ Rugby World Cup winners, with New Zealand settling for silver medals from a dramatic finale in the Stade de France.

Rassie Erasmus’ side have made Rugby World Cup history, as their 12-11 triumph over the All Blacks marks a record fourth Rugby World Cup title for South Africa. The decisive difference was once again the boot of Handre Pollard, as the Leicester Tigers fly-half slotted each and every one of the Springboks’ points from the tee. The match was decided by the goal kickers, as a missed Richie Mo’unga conversion and Jordie Barrett penalty left crucial points in Paris.

In the bronze medal match, England battled well against Argentina to finish the Rugby World Cup in third place. Steve Borthwick’s men outmuscled Los Pumas to a dramatic 26-23 win, with Michael Cheika’s side returning to South America empty handed. There were plenty of top performances in the final weekend of the Rugby World Cup, and we have pieced together a Team of the Week, from the Bronze Medal Match and 2023 Rugby World Cup Final.


15. Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)

14. Kurt-Lee Arendse (South Africa)

11. Mark Tele’a (New Zealand)

Beginning in the back-three, despite coming away on the losing side of the score-line, we’ve selected Beauden Barrett as our fullback. Barrett had a starring run out in what could be his last All Blacks match for a while, as the former Auckland Blues man heads to Japan, after signing with Toyota Verblitz with Aaron Smith. Barrett scored the only try of the 2023 Rugby World Cup Final, and has now scored in two instalments of the showpiece match (first in 2015 vs Australia).

Barrett liked up with his Blues partner Mark Tele’a for the try, as he supported the winger’s carry, and powered over after catching the offload. Speaking of Tele’a, the left winger slots into our Team of the Week, with another strong performance following his return to the All Blacks squad. Tele’a sat out for two rounds of action after missing the All Blacks team curfew early in the competition, and returned for a scintillating run out in the semi-final win over Argentina.

Despite dominating Will Jordan in defence, Cheslin Kolbe’s deliberate knock-on was the deciding factor, that handed our number 11 shirt to Tele’a for the Team of the Week. Tele’a cut through the green and gold wall in the Final, and showcased impressive footwork to build attacking momentum. South Africa’s Kurt-Lee Arendse wraps up our back-three, as the right winger tackled well for his side, with a notable try-saving hit on Tele’a, sending the All Blacks winger into touch. Arendse almost scored in the final, yet could not ground the diving effort, as he chased well to gather Kolbe’s grubber kick along the touch-line.


13. Joe Marchant (England)

12. Jordie Barrett (New Zealand)

Joe Marchant during the England Rugby Training Sessions at The Lensbury Hotel, Teddington, London on 3 July 2023 (Photo: George Beck/PPAUK)

Onto the centres, and we begin with another man who looks to have played his final international match the immediate future. England’s Joe Marchant has been on top form throughout the 2023 Rugby World Cup, yet his time in Steve Borthwick’s side has since come to an end. Marchant missed the plane home, as will instead stay in Paris having agreed a deal with Stade Francais, ending his nine-year stint with Harlequins.

Marchant’s performance in the Bronze Medal match was up to his usual high standards. He was resilient in defence, and produced an exciting attacking option with high octane line-breaks. His best effort came after 19 minutes, as he tore through the Pumas defence, to clear the pressure from the England try-line. Partnering up with Marchant is New Zealand’s Jordie Barrett, and despite missing a crucial penalty in the Final’s latter stages, Barrett ran out a performance to be proud of for New Zealand.

Amongst the criticism surrounding Barrett’s missed penalty, All Blacks fans are forgetting that their side would not have been in the final, if it was not for his try-saving heroics against Ireland. Also, the Hurricanes centre replicated the efforts, by holding up a Springboks pick and drive, to stop a try from from close range. Barrett fronted up to the heavy hits of Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert, and almost goaded the titanic Springboks to hit him with all they had.