MARIETTE ADAMS picks the best-performing backline players throughout the World Cup.
15 – Beauden Barrett (All Blacks)
Barrett was shifted to fullback to accommodate the selection of Richie Mo’unga at flyhalf for the All Blacks. And yet, he was still their standout performer in the backline. At this tournament, the All Black forwards didn’t always set the perfect platform for Barrett to attack from, but he still thrilled in a way only he can. Barrett made 460m from 86 runs and seven offloads.
15 – Beauden Barrett made 86 carries at #RWC2019, more than any other player; he averaged the most carries (17) and third most metres (92) per 80 minutes of any player eligible to qualify for this team. Electric. pic.twitter.com/xK9pDbFEWY
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) November 4, 2019
14 – Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa)
It would be criminal to overlook Cheslin Kolbe. The 26-year-old has been other-worldly throughout this calendar year, not just during this campaign. At the World Cup, though, he underlined his superstar status. ‘Twinkletoes’, as he is fondly dubbed, took no prisoners as he stepped around defenders left, right and centre, leaving them clutching at either thin air or eating grass (hmm, Owen Farrell?).
Watch until your device powers off. Charge up and then do it again. pic.twitter.com/xygqXUzpC8
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) November 3, 2019
13 – Lukhanyo Am (South Africa)
Am is the unsung hero of the Springbok backline. The glue that keeps it all together. The chief organiser of South Africa’s defensive line, yet his influence on attack should not be underestimated. He is not a battering ram like most outside centres, but the thing with Am is he does the little things right. He was at his brilliant best in the final against England, with a few dominating hits in the midfield, a couple of linebreaks and a try assist via a no-look pass.
A historic moment. @Springboks first Rugby World Cup Final try and what a score it was.
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) November 4, 2019
12 – Damian de Allende (South Africa)
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. During the Springboks’ darkest times, Damian de Allende was often made out as one of the main scapegoats. But he took it all in his stride at the time and rose above the criticism to become a linchpin in this Bok team. He was a human wrecking ball in the midfield and a nightmare to defend against when he ran at defenders. In this position, De Allende was peerless.
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (South Africa)
South Africa’s history man, Makazole Mapimpi finished off a sensational effort against England to bag the Boks’ first-ever try in a World Cup final. That effort brought his overall tally to six tries for the campaign. Having been discarded by various teams, he rebuilt his career at the Sharks and just two seasons later Mapimpi has now cemented a place in the Bok back three. His form throughout the World Cup was nothing short of inspirational.
10 – Handre Pollard (South Africa)
Your top point-scorer of Rugby World Cup 2019. Pollard started off slowly, but grew in stature and confidence as the tournament progressed. Though not flawless, he was the supreme flyhalf on the field during South Africa’s three knockout matches against Japan (up against Yu Tamura), Wales (Dan Biggar) and England (George Ford). His clinical and unerring execution of coach Rassie Erasmus’ gameplan should be commended. Pollard kept a calm head as he steered the Springboks to glory, game after game.
9 – Faf de Klerk (South Africa)
His style of play – during the World Cup at least – may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But De Klerk’s box-kick orientated performances were arguably the key difference between South Africa marching on to World Cup glory and their challengers falling by the wayside. He came in for some criticism throughout the campaign, so much so that he had to come out and say that he is playing under instruction from his coach. Nevertheless, the plucky No 9 stuck to what Rassie Erasmus wanted from him and was duly rewarded with a gold medal. In all honesty, though, De Klerk should make any team of the tournament XV if for no other reason than for his unconventional attire throughout the Boks’ victory celebrations. He was the life of the party and South Africans loved it.
@Rene_Naylor Oh this was too priceless All I can hear is you telling Faf “shorts”…”shorts” Too late I’m afraid Too funny for words! #MomMoment #RWC2019 #fafdeklerk When Faf meets Prince Harry in a South African budgie-smuggler pic.twitter.com/4byL8Q2Mz2
— CindyMundow (@cindymundow) November 3, 2019
— 🅵🆁🅽🅲 (@Zuks_Franco) November 4, 2019
PhotoS: Steve Haag via HollywoodBets