2017 Rugby Championship Tournament Team

Rugby player gets tackled

With the 2017 Rugby Championship all wrapped up we thought it would be fitting to name our Tournament team based on the best players according to their individual player stats and match performances.

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The All Blacks won their sixth Rugby Championship title with a game to spare. Their last 25 – 24 encounter against South Africa was a spectacle that will go down in history. Although the All Blacks won we saw a different Springbok team to the one that lost a record 57 – 0 in Albany.

Australia finished second after the All Blacks after their bonus point win at the Estadio Malvinas against Argentina. The Wallabies got stronger as the tournament progressed – simultaneously, South Africa did the same, this was evident when both sides played to a rare two draw result.

2017 Rugby Championship Tournament team

1. Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira

Weighing in at 116kg, Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira, played 261 minutes in this year's Rugby Championship campaign. The solid prop forward has become synonymous with the number 1 Springbok jersey and plays an integral part in the South African team. The Beast was solid on defence missing just three tackles from his 32 attempts – with a tackle success rate of 91 %. On attack he made 22 carries and gained 32 metres, completing 8 passes.

2. Malcolm Marx

Malcolm Marx played 445 minutes and all six matches. With his highlight being the last Test at Newlands between South Africa and New Zealand. The hooker scored two tries and made two try assists, making 55 carries in the process. Marx was superb in the breakdown as he continued to disrupt opposition rucks by contesting the ball forcing the opposition to concede penalties. His strength and force during crash ball situations make him a formidable player in both attacking and defensive situations.

3. Agustin Creevy

The Argentinian veteran first played for the Los Pumas 12 years ago when he first sported the jersey. Now the Captain is extending his game and making even more of a name for himself. Making 62 carries and made 174 metres from his 367 minutes played. Creevy’s passion and hard work ethic make him one of the most notable forwards in Argentina’s history.

4. Brodie Retallick

The All Black lock played a total of 320 minutes during this year’s Rugby Championship campaign. Retallick’s attacking play saw him score a try and create one through an assist. The lock made 29 carries beating seven defenders in the process. On defence the lock made 39 tackles only missing six with a tackle success rate of 86%.

5. Eben Etzebeth

The giant lock forward and South African captain, led his team back into the hearts of South Africans after a humiliating 57 – 0 defeat at the hands of New Zealand. The captain led by example showing lots of heart and fighting spirit after their loss in Albany. The giant towers over 2 metres, weighing in at 117 kilos’, Etzebeth made 45 tackles with a success rate of 93% only missing three tackles in his six matches. On attack he was phenomenal, gaining 102 metres and beating 10 defenders, mainly by running over his opponents.

6. Siya Kolisi

The flanker has been compared to numerous All Blacks. His agility and strength is commonly utilised down the wings in set-piece attack moves by the Springboks. Kolisi scored three tries in his campaign – gained 174 metres and made 31 carries. On defence, he was also solid with an 88% tackle success rate and only missed six tackles from his 44. Kolisi has really matured as a player and his game is showing a great sign of things to come.

7. Sean McMahon

Australia's Sean McMahon made the second most tackles with 61 and topped that up with 65 carries. The 23-year-old flanker started for the Wallabies in every match. On attack, McMahon was involved in two tries as he created assists, made 24 passes and made 210 metres. On defence, his solid defence and work rate were evident as he made 61 tackles – only missing three with a tackle success rate of 95%. The future looks good the youngster.

8. Kieran Read

The All black captain led his team to their sixth Rugby Championship title – winning the title with a game to spare and remained unbeaten. Kieran Read scored two tries, completed 46 passes and made 50 ball carries. His lack of discipline saw him yellow carded during his match against Argentina, but he made up for it with 56 tackles – only missing eight for a tackle success rate of 87%.

9. Will Genia

The Australian scrum-half completed 430 passes, scored three tries made three offloads and gained 189 metres. Genia improved after his team’s first match Bledisloe loss to the All Blacks. Genia showed glimpses of his early Super Rugby form when he kept the ball flowing and made passes that stuck to his backline players. He was involved in set-piece moves as he assisted in five tries and scored three of his own.

10. Beauden Barrett

The prolific fly-half is currently in a class of his own, scoring 70 points including three tries. Barrett’s involvement in seven tries catapulted the All Blacks point fest of 35 tries. Barrett beat 20 defenders, made 65 carries and completed 141 passes with 56 open play kicks.  Barrett has almost changed what the traditional fly half should be – veering away from unnecessary kicking – running at defenders and playing the game creatively. There’s plenty more to come from the 26-year-old.

11. Reko Ioane

Ioane made his debut for the All Blacks at the tender age of 19. And since then he’s had his name in the lights after he took Julian Savea’s position. Equipped with lighting quick pace, once Ioane gets on the outside of a defender, he’s gone. Topping the try-scoring charts with 5 coupled 17 clean breaks. The youngster beat the most number of defenders with 35 in total.

12. Jan Serfontein

2012 IRB Junior World Cup player of the tournament – has really come into his own and offers the strength and size in the inside centre position. On defence, he had a 77% tackle success rate making 42 tackles in the process and missed 12. Serfontein made 42 ball carries, beating 17 defenders, and gaining 185 metres. The centre provided solid cover against some tough opponents during the Rugby Championship.

13. Ryan Crotty

Ryan Crotty was part of this year’s Super rugby winning Crusaders team where he won the man of the match award in the final. Currently on 40 caps for the All Blacks, he scored three tries in this year’s competition. He gained 159 metres, completed 34 passes, and made 22 carries. Quick off the mark Crotty is devastating on the run and has a mean fend when faced with beating a defender. Crotty is great on defense with 23 tackles made and four missed at a 85% tackle success.

14. Israel Folau

Israel Folau had some of the best stats of any player in this year’s Rugby Championship. Scoring five tries, beating 26 defenders, 13 clean breaks, and completed 47 passes. The utility back offers physicality, speed, and agility when on the attack or in completing set-piece moves. Folau raised his game during the tournament sending his team to second spot in the Rugby Championship 2017.

15. Damian McKenzie

Damian McKenzie, I first saw him play at the Junior World cup alongside Tevita Li. That year I knew something special would come out of that talent group and sure enough, it did. McKenzie had a superb Super Rugby with the Chiefs this year and capped it off with his Rugby Championship and British and Irish Lions Test selection. Although he has a small frame, his sheer pace and agility make up for his size. McKenzie’s tactical kicking game and defence are of a high standard with an 80% tackle success rate. He’s beat the second most number of defenders with 33, most carries at 78, and gained the third highest amount of metres with 450.

Writtern by Lungelo Mdladla for Hollywoodbets

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