Power to the people! As has become our tradition, we gave you the chance to vote for your Team of Year: Here are the results…
Power to the people! As has become our tradition, we gave you the chance to vote for your Team of Year: Here are the results from the PR faithful.
Only three players kept their place in your side from 2011 and they were New Zealand backline trio Israel Dagg, Conrad Smith and Dan Carter.
Planet Rugby Readers' Team of the Year:
15 Israel Dagg (Crusaders & New Zealand) – With 68% of your votes there was only one winner in our first position as Israel Dagg saw off Leigh Halfpenny for the jersey. Dagg's ability to ghost past the outside shoulder of defenders makes him a rare commodity you obviously appreciate.
14 Bryan Habana (Stormers & South Africa) – Wore 14 in the Rugby Championship and that was the tournament he was at his best in 2012. If rumours are to be believed he could be on his way to Toulon in the near future but for now, the Stormers have a player who mixes hard graft with pace and intelligence. Bryan Habana saw off Cory Jane and JP Pietersen with consummate ease – not bad for a player who missed the entire November international series.
13 Conrad Smith (Hurricanes & New Zealand) – In many people's eyes, Conrad Smith is 2012's top player (we don't argue with such claims). Leading a young and inexperienced Hurricanes side and being his usual faultless self in an All Black jersey, Smith was an easy winner of the 13 slot as he saw off England's Manu Tuilagi with twice as many votes. A true professional who played a big role in developing Beauden Barrett and Julian Savea.
12 Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs & New Zealand) – He only needed six months. So many pundits were disappointed he left for Japan when he did as Sonny Bill Williams was beginning to grasp the finer points of rugby union, promising continued improvement beyond where he was already at. But, with a Super Rugby championship medal and classy performances in the June Tests, Williams managed to see off Wesley Fofana by ten votes.
11 Julian Savea (Hurricanes & New Zealand) – An outstanding debut season. Julian Savea was joint second in the Super Rugby campaign – just one try behind the co-winners Andre Taylor and Bjorn Basson – but takes our 11 jersey after receiving over half of the votes.
10 Dan Carter (Crusaders & New Zealand) – The man with the highest percentage of votes for a position and also IRB Player of the Year, Dan Carter, has been a cut above the rest this year. While Jonathan Sexton received some support, it was always Carter for your 10 shirt and after his showing in Scotland – one of only nine Tests he played in 2012 – it seems like readers appreciate what he brings. Not bad after an injury stricken 2011 for the maestro.
9 Kahn Fotuali'i (Ospreys & Samoa) – Surprise? Maybe, maybe not. In truth we also had him in our top two contenders at scrum-half. Kahn Fotuali'i was your clear winner though with double the amount of votes of his closest rival Aaron Smith and it is not a shock that several Top 14 clubs across the Channel are apparently vying for his signature. The Osprey has been vital to Samoa this year and will continue to be when World Cup 2015 arrives.
8 Kieran Read (Crusaders & New Zealand) – We imagined it would be a two-horse race for this position but the power of Louis Picamoles was beaten by a good few lengths by Kieran Read. The number eight picked up a handful of man-of-the-match awards wearing black this year while he was exceptional leading the Crusaders when Richie McCaw was out injured. He got 57% of your votes while the Frenchman surprisingly only managed 16%.
7 Richie McCaw (Crusaders & New Zealand) – 65% and with no one coming even close to the All Black means Richie McCaw returns for you after missing out to David Pocock in 2011. McCaw has quietly got the job done for the Crusaders and NZ while others make noise without having achieved anything close to the flank. It says a lot about his commitment that instead of cashing in for six months, he's resting in order to feature at RWC 2015.
6 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (Toulon & Argentina) – Put simply, he was phenomenal for the Pumas during their debut Rugby Championship campaign. Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe switched between blindside and number eight this year and that is why he wears 6 for you, seeing off Dan Lydiate and Chris Robshaw with ease. Honestly, we don't remember a week when Lobbe didn't make our Weekly XV in the southern hemisphere tournament.
5 Nathan Sharpe (Western Force & Australia) – He had to make it didn't he? Nathan Sharpe gave it one last slog for his country during the second half of the year – due to the absence of an injured James Horwill – and gave everything to the Wallaby cause. Fully deserving of his second John Eales Medal as he carried and led admirably for both the Force and Australia. Put your feet up Sharpey, you have earned a fruitful retirement.
4 Eben Etzebeth (Stormers & South Africa) – Was your most-voted second-row by a country mile. 62% of you thought the lock who was only 20 until the end of October was the stand-out in 2012 as he mixed power with dynamism at the beginning of what looks like being a long rugby career at the coal face for South Africa. It wasn't just for the Boks that he shone though as performances for Western Province and the Stormers were exceptional.
3 Dan Cole (Leicester & England) – With 41% of the votes, the ever-improving tighthead managed to see off Owen Franks, Nicolas Mas and Census Johnston here for your number three spot. At 25, Dan Cole is still only a youngster in prop years so fortunately for Leicester and England, his best years are likely to be ahead of him. Next year he has the target of being the British & Irish Lions starting tighthead ahead of Wales veteran Adam Jones.
2 Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs & South Africa) – Bloemfontein has known for a long time how good Adriaan Strauss is and this year the 27-year-old finally had an extended run in the Springbok side. He did not disappoint but only just managed to see off countryman Bismarck du Plessis by 5 votes while Ireland hooker Rory Best was a distant third place. It will be interesting to see who Heyneke Meyer favours when Du Plessis returns in 2013.
1 Sona Taumalolo (Chiefs & Tonga) – Last but not least you guys went for a free-scoring loosehead. Yes, the former Chiefs prop had another exceptional Super Rugby campaign and also backed that up for Tonga. It became rather comical how often commentators mentioned where Sona Taumalolo was standing in the backline so prolific he was in 2012. Nine tries in Super Rugby meant he saw off the likes of Cian Healy and Rodrigo Roncero.