Life moves fast; it seems just days ago that we were discussing the rugby betting odds for the 2023 World Cup, analyzing who would do what, how Eddie Jones would make 12/1 look long, and how wrong we were about that, especially. Now we have nothing but memories of a rainy final in Paris, a cracker of a QF between Ireland and the All Blacks, and that impressive feat of the Portuguese team. As we reflect on how the oddsmakers were right and we were wrong, we can, at least, take this time to celebrate the finest players in world rugby based on their performances on French pitches last month.
There is no denying that the player of the tournament was the French attacker, who showcased all of the flair and vision the rugby world has known about for some time. No other attacker in world rugby possesses DuPont’s range of abilities, kicking with both feet, pacy, exceptional passing, and giving no quarter when defending, a joy to watch.
South Africa’s Marx is a scary hooker, a physical beast who was a fundamental part of the Springbok’s engine for so much of this tournament. When the game gets choppy, and the play breaks down, there is nobody better in the world at seizing the opportunity. What is most worrying about this man is that at just 29, he will only get better.
Arguably the best number 10 in rugby right now, Mo’unga had a wonderful tournament, and he was unlucky not to have lifted the trophy in the final. The weather, we’d suggest, and the rugged nature of South Africa is what proved to be the All Black’s ultimate undoing, but Mo’unga’s kicking and defensive game throughout the World Cup was a joy to behold. Richie is now looking every bit the player so many thought he would be when he broke through.
Nobody embodies the flair of the French like Penaud, a sensational, speedy winger who just oozes class each time the ball falls into his assured hands. Penaud continued his try-scoring form this tournament and has now totted up a staggering 21 tries in his last 20 appearances. The Frenchman was beaten to the top try scorer this year by Will Jordan, helped by his hat trick against Argentina, and, of course, because he played more games. A better push by the French team and Penaud would certainly have tied the All Black or pipped him at the end.
Levani Botia – Played 12 and 7 with ease for a resilient Fijian side
Finn Russell – A player for the biggest of stages, unlucky to have been in such a tough group
Johnny Sexton – Remains Ireland’s focal point at 38, a legend of the game
There you have it, the best of the best from this year’s incredible World Cup, roll on 2025!