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No Etzebeth or Savea in Midi Olympique's XV of the year

By Ian Cameron
Ardie Savea of the All Blacks (L) and Rieko Ioane of the All Blacks in the huddle after the match during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Ireland at Forsyth Barr Stadium on July 09, 2022 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Midi Olympique have thrown the cat among the pigeons with their team of the year for 2022 – leaving out Eben Etzebeth and Ardie Savea from their selection.

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The selection includes five Frenchmen, four Ireland players, two New Zealanders and just two South Africans. There’s a lone English player and an Azzuri shoo-in to make up the 15.

The broad fan consensus that Etzebeth was by some distance the best lock in the world in 2022 was lost on those selecting the team. No doubt his underwhelming exit from Toulon and the Top 14 will have played into their thinking. Tadhg Beirne and Sam Whitelock were Midi’s pairing in the second row.

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There was also no room for Savea, who was the All Blacks‘ standout player in a year in which the men in blacks admittedly struggled to convince under the guidance of head coach Ian Foster.

There was also no room for Springbok centre Lukhanyo Am, who shone brightly for both the Springboks and the Sharks in the URC. The French outlet went for fellow Bok midfielder Damian de Allende and Ireland’s Garry Ringrose, who have both been in fine form in the latter quarter of the year. Am’s time spent on the sidelines during the same time period may have cost him.

The inclusion of Harlequins’ flyhalf Marcus Smith at ten ahead of Johnny Sexton will certainly raise some eyebrows considering the Leinster 10 steered Ireland to the World Rugby No.1 spot in a calendar year in which his influence on the sport seemed stronger than ever.

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Midi Olympique team of the year for 2022:
15. Ange Capuozzo (Italy)
14. Damian Penaud (France)
13. Garry Ringrose (Ireland)
12. Damian de Allende (South Africa)
11. Caleb Clarke (New Zealand)
10. Marcus Smith (England)
9. Antoine Dupont (France)
1. Cyril Baille (France)
2. Julien Marchand (France)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
4. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
5. Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)
6. Siya Kolisi (South Africa)
7. Josh van der Flier (Ireland)
8. Grégory Alldritt (France)

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