July World XV: An Emerald cover
OPINION: The July internationals have come and gone. Ireland, England, Argentina, South Africa and France emerged victorious in their respective series.
@rugby365com writers Warren Fortune and Jan de Koning sat down and analysed all the matches, and wrestled over all the positions to come up with a World XV for the month of July.
The Irish team, following their historic series-winning trip to New Zealand, top the charts with six players in our starting XV.
The Springboks, after a scratchy two-one win over Wales, are next best with four starts – followed by Australia, England (both two) and New Zealand (one).
There is more reward for South Africa in our backup squad – four players bubbling under. Wales, Ireland (both three), England (two), New Zealand, Argentina and Scotland (one each) make up the rest.
July World XV
15 Damian Willemse (South Africa)
It was a close call between the Springbok utility back, Willemse, and England’s Freddie Steward. Willemse, who spent a substantial period at inside centre in the decisive third Test is one of the most improved players in the Republic this year.
Bubbling under: Freddie Steward (England)
14 Jack Nowell (England)
There were some amazing finishers, with Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales), Sevu Reece and Will Jordan (both New Zealand) also impressive. Nowell, apart from the 100-odd metres he made with ball in hand, the English flyer made 30 tackles in his three outings.
Bubbling under: Sevu Reece (New Zealand)
13 Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
Despite featuring in the No.12 jersey in the first two Tests, with Garry Ringrose in the Ireland No.13, Henshaw’s form was just too good to ignore. We decided to select him at outside centre, the position he played in the third Test, to accommodate both Henshaw and Samu Kerevi.
Bubbling under: Lukhanyo Am (South Africa)
12 Samu Kerevi (Australia)
The Wallaby powerhouse was the Australians’ most impressive player throughout the series – busting tackles and clocking metres at an impressive rate. He made over 150 metres in the three matches, while his defensive channel was also reasonably secure – with only three missed tackles.
Bubbling under: Nick Tompkins (Wales)
11 Marika Koroibete (Australia)
Another key player in the Wallabies’ power game, with just under 200 metres made.
Bubbling under: Emiliano Boffelli (Argentina)
10 Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
Despite his advanced years, 37, he directed the Irish game with much enthusiasm and also showed his experience – remaining composed under extreme pressure.
Bubbling under: Dan Biggar (Wales)
9 Jamison Gibson-Park (Ireland)
It must have been bitter-sweet for the 30-year-old scrumhalf to return to the country of his birth for this historic win. But, like Sexton, he was pivotal to the cause.
Bubbling under: Danny Care (England)
8 Ardie Savea (New Zealand)
The amazing number he managed in a losing cause show just how important he is to a declining team – 30-odd carries, metres made well into three digits and an average of 10 tackles per game.
Bubbling under: Albertus Smith (South Africa)
7 Josh van der Flier (Ireland)
His amazing work rate is depicted in his defensive stats, with an average of 20 per game – 18 tackles in the first-Test loss, 21 tackles in the crucial second Test and 23 tackles in the decider.
Bubbling under: Tommy Reffell (Wales)
6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (South Africa)
Not everybody’s cup of tea, but the Springbok captain improved markedly from the first to the third Test – making 50-odd metres with the ball in hand and some big hits in an impressive defensive performance, with plenty of work at the breakdown.
Bubbling under: Peter O’Mahony (Ireland)
5 James Ryan (Ireland)
The big Irish second row forward was at the heart of the physical domination that subdued the New Zealand pack.
Bubbling under: Tomas Lavanini (Argentina)
4 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)
It was not just his performance in his 100th Test (the decisive third match in the series) or the fact that he is the only Bok to start in all three internationals. It was his form across all three Tests, which is encapsulated in the fact that he averaged 10 tackles per game.
Bubbling under: Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
The rock of the Irish scrum throughout the series, but it was his all-round game that convinced us.
Bubbling under: Vincent Koch (South Africa)
2 Dan Sheehan (Ireland)
Going to be crucial to Ireland’s cause that he maintains his form into the World Cup next year.
Bubbling under: Malcolm Marx (South Africa)
1 Ellis Genge (England
Not flawless and sometimes pushes the disciplinary envelope, but one of the most productive members of a very physical England pack.
Bubbling under: Andrew Porter (Ireland)
Our individual selections
Warren Fortune XV: 15 Freddie Steward (England), 14 Jack Nowell (England), 13 Robbie Henshaw (Ireland) 12 Samu Kerevi (Australia), 11 Marika Koroibete (Australia), 10 Johnny Sexton (Ireland), 9 Jamison Gibson-Park (Ireland), 8 Ardie Savea (New Zealand), 7 Josh van der Vlier (Ireland), 6 Peter O’Mahony (Ireland), 5 James Ryan (Ireland), 4 Tadhg Beirne (Ireland), 3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), 2 Dan Sheehan (Ireland), 1 Ellis Genge (England).
Jan de Koning XV: 15 Damian Willemse (South Africa), 14 Sevu Reece (New Zealand), 13 Lukhanyo Am (South Africa), 12 Samu Kerevi (Australia), 11 Marika Koroibete (Australia), 10 Johnny Sexton (Ireland), 9 Jamison Gibson-Park (Ireland), 8 Ardie Savea (New Zealand), 7 Josh van der Vlier (Ireland), 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (South Africa), 5 James Ryan (Ireland), 4 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa), 3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), 2 Malcolm Marx (South Africa), 1 Ellis Genge (England).