Team of the Week: Rugby World Cup Final and Bronze Medal Match - Page 3 of 3 - Ruck

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


4. Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)

5. Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)

Eben Etzebeth of South Africa during the Autumn Nations Match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on 20 November 2021. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

The second row was one of Argentina’s best shot at making the starting XV for our Team of the Week, as Pedro Rubiolo was one of few positives for the defeated Pumas. Along with strong run-outs from captain Julian Montoya and fly-half Santiago Carreras, Rubiolo stepped up in the absence of Tomas Lavanini.

However, we have given the two starting spots in our Team of the Week, to two of the finalists in Paris. New Zealand’s Brodie Retallick and South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth put on masterful showings in the row, with Etzebeth imposing his physicality, whilst Retallick was technically flawless.

Beginning with Etzebeth, the Durban Sharks man set the tone of the final with a monstrous hit on Richie Mo’unga. He flexed his mucles in the early goings by dominating the collisions, and sent the 6ft 5″ frame of Jordie Barrett to the deck, as if he were a man half the size. Retallick presented excellent awareness to get the upper hand in the breakdowns, and marked his final All Blacks appearance with an inquisitive outing at the line-out.

Retallick was New Zealand’s best arial option against the enormous Etzebeth, with both men winning and stealing the ball in the air. The two locks were well-matched for one another, and both left the pitch to great ovations, as the match entered it’s closing moments.


6. Sam Underhill (England)

7. Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa)

8. Ben Earl (England)

Dejection for Ben Earl of England after the Six Nations Championship, Calcutta Cup match between England and Scotland at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on February 4th 2023. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

The back-row for our final Team of the Week for the Rugby World Cup is certainly one for the workhorses. The England duo of Sam Underhill and Ben Earl are joined by South Africa’s Pieter-Steph du Toit, with all three men running out unbelievable efforts in their respective bronze medal match, and Rugby World Cup Final.

Starting with Underhill, the Bath man had a drastic turn-around from leaving the Rec, and joining up with his teammates in France. Underhill was a late addition to the Englanf squad, and was called in after Jack Willis left camp with a neck injury. Underhill had a storming match against Argentina, as he made 24 tackles without missing a single attempt.

Sam Underhill of England during the Autumn Nations Match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on 20 November 2021. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Underhill also bossed the breakdown area, and constantly cleared out any Pumas from getting their claws on the ball. The flanker made two turnovers as well, and certainly put his hand up for future England selections in the Six Nations. Ben Earl had a similarly strong run out, with an increased focus on attack for England’s number eight.

Earl made 10 carries for 71 metres against Argentina, which saw him top England’s charts in both categories for the match. The Saracen also ended the match with 14 tackles, which was the second best effort from an England player, behind the relentless Underhill. However, not even Underhill could match Pieter-Steph du Toit’s defensive work rate, as he racked up a staggering 28 tackles against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup Final.

The 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year would not let up in his pursuit of the Web Ellis Trophy. Du Toit left his mark on each and every All Black, in a defensive effort to be admired. Constantly hitting the breakdowns and presenting a powerful option of his own when carrying, du Toit out-shone his captain Kolisi on the blindside flank, with a generational performance in gold and green.


16. Julian Montoya (Argentina)

17. Steven Kitshoff (South Africa)

18. Dan Cole (England)

19. Pedro Rubiolo (Argentina)

20. Ardie Savea (New Zealand)

21. Faf de Klerk (South Africa)

22. Santiago Carreras (Argentina)

23. Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa)