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'Abby Dow was picked at fullback but didn't play a single game in that position'

By Adam Julian
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 12: Ellie Kildunne and Abby Dow of England embrace following the Rugby World Cup 2021 Final match between New Zealand and England at Eden Park on November 12, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

The World Rugby Awards in Monaco were a glittering celebration of 2022 success – at least for some.

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The admission of All Blacks talisman Ardie Savea from the men’s dream team of the year was one of the most extraordinary and ridiculous snubs in recent memory.

If you ever wanted proof of what a great rugby player looks like revisit Ardie’s performance in the second half of the third All Blacks, Ireland test in Wellington.

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In a hopeless position, Ardie single handily shoves the listless hosts upon his shoulders and almost carries the All Blacks to an improbable victory.

The women’s dream team of the year also featured some puzzling selections.

England’s Abby Dow was picked at fullback but didn’t play a single game in that position this year.

In fact, she missed the whole Six Nations with a broken leg and was on the bench for most of the World Cup. She thoroughly deserved the try of the year award. Her finish in the semi-final against Canada was crucial and epic but that happened from the right wing.

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No consideration for French fullback Emilie Boulard? She was dazzling at her best.

What about vastly improved Black Fern Renee Holmes? She set up a brilliant try for Ruby Tui with an audacious kick in the France semi-final and was running merrily in the decider against England.

Furthermore, in January Holmes had never kicked a goal in a first-class match. She converted almost half of the Black Ferns’ tries this season.

Emily Scarratt finished the Six Nations and World Cup as the top points scorer again. The English centre was in vintage form in the World Cup group win against France, but she won’t look back on her display in the final with too much fondness.

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It wasn’t awful, but she was skinned badly after halftime by opposite Stacey Fluhler in the lead-up to a try from the smiling Black Ferns assassin.

Later Fluhler would deliver a courageous pass which led to an Ayesha Leti-I’iga match-winning try.

Fluhler only played five tests this year, everyone was exceptional. She turned up a fortnight before the World Cup in a 95-12 shellacking of Japan. The backline immediately looked livelier and more dynamic for Fluhler’s presence.

Her claim and cunning were essential in the Black Ferns first-round resurgence against Australia, and she scored a key try against the French.

Kendra Cocksedge is another Black Fern with possible cause for grievance. The halfback started 11 of the 12 Black Ferns tests in 2022, her nifty skill and leadership back to the levels that saw her rewarded World Player of the Year in 2015.

It was a genuine tragedy Laure Sansus was injured early in the World Cup. The Frenchwomen was brilliant in the Six Nations and properly worthy of her place.

The forward selections are tougher to argue with, except for one glaring admission. Where is Amy Cokayne?

Canada’s Emily Tuttosi is very good but in the semi-final against England, the Canadian lineout had some jitters which helped the Red Roses in a tight tussle.

Cokayne scored a hat-trick for England in the World Cup final! She is one the main architects of the most imperious lineout in the game, male or female.

She’s more than handy around the paddock too and already has 70 caps to her credit at 26.

In the World Cup final, Cokayne was strangely replaced by Lark Davies with just six minutes remaining, and as they say, the rest is history.

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