England and Springboks stars snubbed in World Cup pool stage XV

Jared Wright
Split image of France winger Damian Penaud and Ireland centre Bundee Aki celebrating during the Rugby World Cup.

France winger Damian Penaud and Ireland centre Bundee Aki celebrating during the Rugby World Cup.

England and South Africa have no players included in a stats-based 2023 Rugby World Cup team of the pool stages.

The Opta Stats side consists of 10 nations, with France and Ireland having the most representatives with three players in the XV, while England and the Springboks fail to feature.

Topping the stats in the pool stages

Damian Penaud (wing), Matthieu Jalibert (fly-half) and Peato Mauvaka (hooker) are the three French players making the cut after starring in the group stages of their home World Cup.

Penaud scored six tries in his three tournament appearances and assisted four more scores. He also gained over 270 running metres.

Jalibert assisted five tries in his three appearances, comfortably taking over the number 10 jumper after Romain Ntamack’s injury ruled him out of the tournament.

Les Bleus hooker Mauvaka is the final inclusion from the hosts after scoring two tries and making over 20 carries and tackles in his four games. He also assisted two tries and gained 130 running metres.

Georgia full-back Davit Niniashvili is his team’s only inclusion – the brilliant 21-year-old after averaging over 100 running metres in his four appearances. The star youngster also nailed two long-range penalties and scored a try. The back three is rounded out by All Blacks try machine Will Jordan.

Meanwhile, Ireland have three inclusions, claiming both centre roles as Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose are included. Aki has been in stellar form, beating the joint-most defenders (23) during the pool stages while gaining over 370 metres and scoring four tries.

As for Ringrose, he has assisted a remarkable six tries, a tally only matched by New Zealand’s Cam Roigard, while he has scored one himself and made 236 metres.

Tadhg Beirne is Ireland’s only forward cracking the team and is joined in the second-row by the sensational Samoan Theo McFarland.

Mauvaka is flanked by Australian prop Angus Bell and Tongan Ben Tameifuna in the front-row after the pair lit up the World Cup with their excellent carries and tackles.

The back-row is made up of Italy’s number eight Lorenzo Cannone, Portugal’s Nicolas Martins and Uruguay’s Manuel Ardao.

Ardao was particularly impressive, winning seven turnovers during the competition.

Stats-based Team of the World Cup pool stages

Opta’s team of the pool stages: 15 Davit Niniashvili (Georgia), 14 Damian Penaud (France), 13 Garry Ringrose (Ireland), 12 Bundee Aki (Ireland), 11 Will Jordan (New Zealand), 10 Matthieu Jalibert (France), 9 Samuel Marques (Portugal), 8 Lorenzo Cannone (Italy), 7 Nicolas Martins (Portugal), 6 Manuel Ardao (Uruguay), 5 Theo McFarland (Samoa), 4 Tadhg Beirne (Ireland), 3 Ben Tameifuna (Tonga), 2 Peato Mauvaka (France), 1 Angus Bell (Australia)

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