You voted, we counted, and here is the result – the Planet Rugby Readers’ Team of the Year for 2016.
A big thank you for taking part and letting us know who you loved watching this year.
The tightest battle across the positions came at number eight, while there were unsurprisingly others that were always going to go to one player.
See who you voted for below.
Planet Rugby Readers’ Team of the Year 2016
15 Ben Smith (Highlanders and New Zealand) – Smith featured in a remarkable 85 percent of your votes, returning at full-back from the 2015 Readers’ Team. Beauden Barrett and Dane Coles took the spotlight this year, but Smith was phenomenal too. One of the game’s great attacking threats. Stuart Hogg received plenty of votes.
14 Israel Dagg (Crusaders and New Zealand) – Hell of a comeback year for Dagg after missing the Rugby World Cup. Dagg received 73 percent of the votes, finishing ahead of Canada’s DTH van der Merwe. Plenty of attention next year will be on whether he moves overseas or stays in New Zealand.
13 Jonathan Joseph (Bath and England) – Fresh off an excellent November series with England, Joseph’s main threat came from our Newcomer of the Year, Anton Lienert-Brown. 47 percent of the vote was enough for the fleet-footed centre to get the nod.
12 Owen Farrell (Saracens and England) – Finished with more votes than Wesley Fofana and Robbie Henshaw, and surprisingly by some way too, with Farrell finishing with 51 percent. Only once was he selected at fly-half, outlining how well he has played at centre for England all year.
11 Julian Savea (Hurricanes and New Zealand) – Even after a mixed year by Savea’s lofty standards, he was still your pick out on the wing over the likes of Liam Williams, DTH van der Merwe, Dane Haylett-Petty, Juan Imhoff and Nemani Nadolo. 36 percent was enough to secure his place.
10 Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes and New Zealand) – Perhaps there is no better way to illustrate Barrett’s dominance this year other than the stats from your vote, with just TWO entries not including the World Player of the Year as he walked away with 98.6 percent.
9 Conor Murray (Munster and Ireland) – The first Irishman in your team and a comfortable winner ahead of TJ Perenara and Ben Youngs, with Murray taking 45 percent of the total. Whether he makes his way back into the team next year will probably depend on how the Lions fare in New Zealand.
8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens and England) – This was incredibly close between Vunipola and Facundo Isa, the Jaguares and Argentina number eight who has played out of his skin this year. Ultimately the split came down to this; 44.4 percent to 41.5 percent. Aged 24 and 23, that’s exciting for the future.
7 David Pocock (Brumbies and Australia) – Another returnee from last year, this time at flanker, as Pocock sets off for his sabbatical after another accomplished twelve months. Well ahead of the rest of the competition with 55 percent.
6 CJ Stander (Munster and Ireland) – A remarkable year for the Munster flanker, who has become a talisman for his province and now a vital cog in Ireland’s back row based off his work-rate. 63 percent of the vote went Stander’s way.
5 Maro Itoje (Saracens and England) – Not even a Test player at the start of the year, look how far Itoje has come. European Player of the Year, a Grand Slam winner, and having watched England from the sidelines during November expect him to come back chomping at the bit for the Six Nations. He took 78 percent of the vote.
4 Brodie Retallick (Chiefs and New Zealand) – Special player, and the 2014 World Player of the Year underlined it once again this year because without his presence and freakish work-rate in the heart of that All Blacks’ pack, he is sorely missed. 76 percent of you wanted Retallick in your team.
3 Tadgh Furlong (Leinster and Ireland) – No one else came close to the Irish tighthead after his breakout year, 65 percent of you selecting him to anchor the scrum. Furlong of course can make a dent in the set-piece but there are many subtleties to his game too, from soft hands to smart defence. He can sure rumble too. Dan Cole and Owen Franks couldn’t get close.
2 Dane Coles (Hurricanes and New Zealand) – No shocks here, with last year’s selection Agustín Creevy dethroned – even though he was excellent – by the force that is Dane Coles. 82 percent of you went with the Hurricanes captain after he led his side to a Super Rugby title and excelled for his country.
1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens and England) – Jack McGrath had his admirers but Mako Vunipola joins his brother in your pack thanks to a 61 percent share. Improving every year in the scrum, Vunipola’s play in the loose keeps getting better too.
What do you make of the side? Fight it out in the comments below…