XV of the Week: Rugby Championship

Date published: August 29 2012


Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, PR takes a look at the players who stood tall in the Rugby Championship.

Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, Planet Rugby looks at the players who stole the show in the Rugby Championship.

15 Israel Dagg (New Zealand) – He opened the scoring in Round 1 and did exactly the same in Auckland with a line similar to that of lock Nathan Sharpe's nine days ago. It's getting to the stage where we feel as though we have exhausted the superlatives as he continues to shine at the back.

14 Gonzalo Camacho (Argentina) – Quins and Exeter fans won't have been surprised at how Camacho has taken to the Rugby Championship like a duck to water. The 27-year-old's opening to the action in Mendoza caught the Springboks cold as he once again got the better of Lwazi Mvovo.

13 Ben Smith (New Zealand) – Talk about making an impact. Smith's ability to play full-back, wing or centre makes him vital to Steve Hansen's plans – and he put in one heck of a 25 minutes. Smith cut beautiful lines like he has done all year. It's pretty harsh that namesake Conrad returns in Round 3.

12 Sonny Bill Williams (New Zealand) – It won't be just Kiwis who will applaud what Sonny Bill has achieved during his short time in Union. World Cup, Tri-Nations and Super Rugby medals are in his pocket as he leaves, yet his recent improvements makes us wonder whether there was even more to come from SBW.

11 Cory Jane (New Zealand) – Eleven was a slot that had few standout contenders. Horacio Agulla was solid but we felt Jane (in fourteen in Auckland) was the next most impressive wing on our list. Made a scything break and was typically efficient in an in-form backline.

10 Dan Carter (New Zealand) – Pushed Kieran Read hard for our man-of-the-match award as he distributed, kicked and organised superbly. One blot on his copybook he will have noted was a poor pass when he had the line at his mercy. Mention for Nicolás Sánchez.

9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand) – Despite a few snipes, Francois Hougaard was impacted by his pack struggling against the Pumas while Nicolas Vergallo had a disciplined and smart game in Mendoza. Nines, of course, love front-foot ball though and Smith lapped that up.

8 Kieran Read (New Zealand) – Our man-of-the-matches over the past weekend were both number eights and unsurprisingly both have been accommodated in our side. Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe (see below) was exceptional while Read laid the foundations of New Zealand's impressive 8-9-10 axis. Carries, tackles and skills aplenty from the Cantabrian.

7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe (Argentina) – We just couldn't leave out Lobbe. Argentina and Toulon have one of the best number eights in world rugby in their side and it's pleasing that Test rugby is now able to appreciate such a talent on an annual basis. Outstanding.

6 Julio Farías Cabello (Argentina) – Was the Pumas' favoured option at the line-out and did not disappoint there and in all other facets of play in their first home Rugby Championship game. At 33, he must be loving the chance to take on the world's best in his career run-in.

5 Patricio Albacete (Argentina) – It was incredibly tough to leave out Sitaleki Timani, who played his best game for Australia over the weekend. But his hit on Sonny Bill Williams along with a try-saving tackle on Liam Messam were not enough to oust Albacete. A rock.

4 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa) – One seldom sees a lock topping a country's 'defenders beaten' list but that is what happened for the Springboks. If South Africa's backline wanted to make a point to their coach about their kick-happy game-plan then that statistic says it all.

3 Juan Figallo (Argentina) – We arrive at our all-Puma front-row. Argentina lived up to its long-standing reputation in the tight and Figallo was a big reason for that. RWC 2011's Player of Pool B ticked all his pre-game boxes and threw in what he'll claim as a try assist.

2 Eusebio Gui̱az̼ (Argentina) РPlaying against a handful of former Stormers colleagues, Gui̱az̼ stood up very well. Last week's line-out showing was superb while on Saturday just one went awry but it was his carrying that stood out, notably one nimble-footed line break.

1 Rodrigo Roncero (Argentina) – He might look like rugby's last remaining player from the pre-professional era but there was nothing amateur about his performance. 13 tackles from a 20-year-old prop would be impressive but from a veteran of 35, Roncero was immense.

By Adam Kyriacou