The announcement of World Rugby’s Team of the Decade on Tuesday has brought with it an avalanche of criticism from fans over the selection and non-selection of certain players.
The game’s global governing body released a XV of the best players in test rugby from between 2010 and 2019 at the World Rugby Awards Special Edition, as selected by an awards panel.
Featuring some of the games biggest names such as newly-crowned World Rugby Player of the Decade and two-time World Cup-winning All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, there was no shortage of star power across the composite side.
Other iconic figures named in the side include New Zealand’s Dan Carter and Ma’a Nonu, South Africa’s Bryan Habana, Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll, Australia’s David Pocock and Italy’s Sergio Parisse.
There were some notable names left out of the squad, though, with fans quick to take to Twitter in response to World Rugby’s announcement to highlight where the selection panel had gone wrong in their decision-making.
Perhaps the most questionable decision came at halfback, with Ireland’s Conor Murray winning the nod over World Cup-winning All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith.
The latter has been widely regarded as one of, if not the, best No. 9 on the planet since his test debut in 2012, leaving many fans perplexed as to how the 97-cap veteran missed out.
Another contentious points of selection came on the wing, with some criticising the addition of Welsh wing George North ahead of powerhouse All Blacks sensation Julian Savea.
It’s a similar story in the midfield, with many unsure of O’Driscoll’s inclusion given he retired in 2014, meaning he missed most of the decade’s international rugby.
Some pointed to former All Blacks centre Conrad Smith and current Wales star Jonathan Davies as two worthy replacements.
Meanwhile, many would argue former Italy captain Sergio Parisse’s selection at No.8 is validated due to his longevity and excellence over the years, but others were insistent that ex-All Blacks skipper Kieran Read should have been picked instead.
Lol. That’s not the right scrum half. Not even close.
— Gumby (@GumbaliciousDef) December 7, 2020
North and Murray…. Come. On
— Richard Leng III (@LengofRichardll) December 7, 2020
Julian Savea managed 46 in half the time and with about 40 fewer caps
— Murray McCann (@MurrayMcCann) December 7, 2020
A few lads have done well to get into that team, few head scratchers. Does this represent domestic competition or just International ?????
— Ronan Mythen (@RonanMythen) December 7, 2020
Jonathan Davies surely ?!?! Most consistent 13 for pretty much the entire decade. 2 grand slams, 1 six nations, 2 lions tours (6 test starts) and player of the series in 2017. Also, 2 RWC semi finals. BOD is the greatest but retired in 2013. Robbery.
— WelshCPFC (@CpfcWelsh) December 7, 2020
probably need another couple of NZers to honestly reflect the best of the last decade…. but still a mighty team
— Ras Thavas (@ThavasRas) December 7, 2020
Love Conor but surely this should be Aaron Smith.
— Simon Wilkinson (@simonmattwilkin) December 7, 2020
The team still featured a total of seven All Blacks through McCaw, Carter, Nonu, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Ben Smith and Owen Franks, which is far more than what England can boast.
No players from the world number two side made the cut for the XV, with England perhaps paying the price of a quarter-final exit at the 2011 World Cup followed by disastrous campaign in 2015 where they bombed out in pool play on their home turf.
Still, it was a decade that saw the English finish runners-up at last year’s World Cup and claim three Six Nations titles, during which time stars such as Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje made their name on the global stage.
The lack of English flavour left some fans aggrieved, while others defended the selections of the likes of North and Murray despite widespread criticism on social media.
England only outside top 5 (briefly) in the decade once but not a single player? Team combination better than the individuals?
— Staff's Phil (@chonnuck) December 7, 2020
Not very representative of the Northern Hemisphere, can think of a couple of players who probably deserved to make this list
— "There's always next season" (@VirulentVespula) December 7, 2020
North up until the last like 2 years has been one of the best wingers in the world what do you mean?
— Iestyn symonds. (@Iestyn_Sym) December 7, 2020
Conor Murray gave Aaron Smith the yips in 2016 (Chicago) 2017 (Lions) 2018 (Dublin). Personally I wouldn’t have had Murray at 9, but he’s definitely better than Smith for most of the decade.
— Ronan Mythen (@RonanMythen) December 7, 2020
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