The inaugral Rugby Championship has come to an end, and hasn’t disappointed.
Fans across the globe were treated four of the world’s top-tier rugby nations battling it out across the four respective countries in a bid to claim the trophy.
It was deserving that the World Cup-winning All Blacks claimed the silverware and completed the tournament unbeaten.
That said, there were players from all nations that stood out, so in retrospect of the new tournament, let’s look at the players of the tournament for each position:
1. Rodrigo Roncero (Argentina)
The veteran front-rower proved that age is just a number, as the 35-year old scrummed his heart out for the Pumas and proved solid on defence with some bone-crunching hits.
2. Adriaan Strauss (South Africa)
Adriaan Strauss stepped into the frame after Bismarck Du Plessis had to step down. The Cheetah’s captain was strong in the scrum and proved menacing for all teams with the ball in-hand.
3. Ben Alexander (Australia)
Ben Alexander isn’t always in the limelight, but his contribution to the Wallaby team is as significant as ever. The prop forward scrummed excellently and proved valuable in all his roles throughout the competition.
4. Patricio Albacete (Argentina)
Albacete showed that he’s not just a giant in physical stature, but also in impact, as the lanky lock was instrumental in the Puma’s defence and as a ball-carrier.
5. Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)
Sam Whitelock is coming to own the number 5 All Black jersey with solid performances week-in and week-out, and he was undeniably pivotal in the AB’s Rugby Championship campaign.
6. Francois Louw (South Africa)
Bringing in Francois Louw was a great decision from Heyneke Meyer, as the Bath captain was a standout in the Bok squad, stealing balls, causing untold havoc and linking up with the backs brilliantly.
7. Michael Hooper (Australia)
The young Wallaby flank took his starting opportunity with full-force and showed why he has Dean’s attention. At age 20, Hooper exhibited a work-rate of a veteran flanker in every match.
8. Kieran Read (New Zealand)
Argentina’s Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe just misses out to Kieran Read for Number 8 of the tournament. Read was in a league of his own and has showed that NZ have found one of the best loose-forwards in the world.
9. Aaron Smith (New Zealand)
While Aaron Smith did encounter some off-field discipline, he more than made up for it by delivering impressive performances and try scoring moments every chance he got.
10. Daniel Carter (New Zealand)
Daniel Carter continued his classy career with stellar performances with the boot, and opened up space for the All Blacks’ outside backs every moment he touched the ball.
11. Hosea Gear (New Zealand)
Hosea Gear and Julian Savea seemed to be on rotation from Steve Hansen, but Gear took his opportunity to start in Soweto with both hands, and produced a dazzling performance from the left wing.
12. Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)
Ma’a Nonu has reiterated that he is the best inside centre in the game, with his dangerous runs and unpredictibility that caused worry from all rival defences.
13. Marcelo Bosch (Argentina)
Marcelo Bosch didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, but showed his comfortability in the number 13 jersey, confidently kicking penalties and executing brilliant tackles throughout the tournament.
14. Bryan Habana (South Africa)
Bryan Habana was the undeniable standout player for the Springboks, and showed that the best is yet to come from the try-scoring flyer.
15. Israel Dagg (All Blacks)
Israel Dagg has gone from one brilliant performance to another over the course of the Rugby Championship. The Crusaders fullback produced captivating finishes to a number of tries and never seemed to make a single mistake, emphasising his role as the best fullback in the world.