So far, this Rugby World Cup has lived up to its billing as the most competitive yet. Japan sit at the top of Pool A with only one round left, Uruguay overcame Fiji, Tonga pushed France close, and Namibia look like they could finally pick up their first RWC victory in their final pool game against Canada.
Unsurprisingly, given the strength of the tournament, there have been some astonishing collective performances. However, plenty of individuals have also caught the eye.
Rhiannon Garth Jones picks a XV of the tournament so far.
- Beauden Barrett, New Zealand
Could he be both the best No10 and No15 in world rugby? Barrett may have his weaknesses but he is absolutely lethal on the counter-attack.
- Cheslin Kolbe, South Africa
His footwork, understandably, gets the plaudits but Kolbe is also excellent under the high-ball, despite conceding quite the height advantage to most of his competitors, and defensively solid too.
- Timothy Lafaele, Japan
The outside centre looks like he could get into most squads right now. Powerful but slick in attack, he is so important to everything that Japan do well.
- Samu Kerevi, Australia
Wales arguably have the best defence in the world and even they couldn’t contain him. A threat every time he gets anywhere near the ball.
- Semi Radradra, Fiji
So impressive. Pops up all over the pitch and causes damage every time. A real shame we won’t see what he could do in a knockout game.
- George Ford, England
Providing a helpful demonstration of the rugby cliché, ‘has the ball on a string’. Doesn’t look like he’ll be relinquishing the No10 jersey any time soon. Felipe Barchesi of Uruguay has also impressed.
- Gareth Davies, Wales
Still doesn’t quite have the complete package but his performances so far have shown why he is so important to Wales. Crucial in defence, lethal in attack.
- Tendai Mtawarira, South Africa
Still going after 114 caps, it’s a sign of how strong South Africa are in the pack that the Beast is second choice. Has impressed in all three games so far, with his tackling as powerful as ever.
- Julian Montoya, Argentina
It’s been a disappointing tournament for the Pumas but a hat-trick of tries in one half is an impressive return for any hooker.
- Allan Alaalatoa, Australia
A very modern prop. Strong and savvy in the scrum but so mobile around the field that you could imagine him doing a job in the back row.
- Maro Itoje, England
It’s a golden period for second rows in rugby right now but Itoje always stands out. Athletic, intelligent, powerful, and wonderfully consistent.
- Alun-Wyn Jones, Wales
Hard to remember when he last had a bad game. His excellence is now so consistent that you hardly notice it. Put in an astonishing 25 tackles against Australia.
- Kazuki Himeno, Japan
A revelation. Has played all three games so far and outshone his more well-known back row colleagues with his handling, physicality, and ability over the ball.
- Juan Manuel Gaminara, Uruguay
Justifies nearly every cliché in the book. Smaller than most scrumhalves but seems to never stop tackling and has led his team wonderfully so far. Elsewhere, Italy’s Jake Polledri has proved his country have nothing to fear from Sergio Parisse’s retirement.
- Ardie Savea, New Zealand
The type of player you feel could probably fill-in anywhere in the pitch, Savea has impressed in every facet of the game. The same could be said of Fiji’s Peceli Yato, whose absences have coincided with Fiji’s struggles.
Watch: Matt Giteau and Mike Tindall predict their World Cup winners
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