Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Club/Franchise Rugby Teams of the Decade

Club/Franchise Rugby Teams of the Decade

Sharks players celebrate Currie Cup win in 2010

With the New Year upon us, here are some picks for the best club teams to have graced the 2010’s. 

While lists like these are always likely to spark debate, many factors went into finally settling on these specific sides such as the quality of their players and the opposition they faced, as well as their respective overall playing records.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

While rugby is obviously very much a squad effort with substantially more than merely 15 players involved during each respective campaign, the teams selected were those that started in that particular season’s Grand Final.

Super Rugby - 2018 Crusaders 

The Crusaders celebrate winning the 2018 Super Rugby title
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports
2019 saw Scott Robertson cap off a remarkable three-peat by guiding his beloved Crusaders to a third straight Super Rugby title following their 19-3 win over the Jaguares in Christchurch.

Many have gone so far as to talk up this current Crusaders lot as the best in the history of the tournament and, in all honesty, they’d be hard to bet against. 48 wins in 56 matches since the beginning of the 2017 season in arguably the world’s toughest club/franchise competition makes for some truly astounding reading. In a post-McCaw and Carter era, we never thought we’d see anything like it.

With the likes of Kieran Read, Owen Franks, Matt Todd and Ryan Crotty all moving on, it will be fascinating to see how well Robertson’s men perform in the upcoming seasons.

To be fair, each of the Saders’ last three Finals sides could have made the list, but this current crop was at their zenith when they hosted the Lions in the Christchurch rematch of 2018.

The Lions, hellbent on making amends for their home loss the previous year, and not too bad an outfit themselves, were blown off the park as the hosts romped to a 37-18 triumph.

2018 Super Rugby Final team

15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.

Honourable mentions:
2010 Bulls, 2011 Reds, 2012 Chiefs, 2013 Chiefs.

Currie Cup - 2010 Sharks

Stefan Terblanche, Bismark du Plessis and Willem Alberts celebrate the 2010 Currie Cup title
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

They may have been boosted by their returning Springboks by the backend of the campaign, but the Sharks’ class of 2010 were undoubtedly a very special unit. In what was young Pat Lambie’s breakout year, the Durbanites memorably saw off the defending champion Blue Bulls in a Kings Park semi-final that began with a literal bee invasion and ended in rain-soaked black and white ecstasy.

The Final – a 30-10 win over Western Province – was dominated by Lambie, who bagged 25 points in a masterclass from first-five. While Andries Strauss may have been overshadowed by Lambie on the day, the underrated No 12 also played the game of his life; going a long way to securing victory for his side.

This was a tight one, with the 2015 Golden Lions also in with a shout, but the Sharks’ star quality gives them the edge.

2010 Currie Cup Final team

15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche (c), 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Honourable mentions:
2012 Western Province, 2015 Golden Lions, 2016 Free State Cheetahs.

Premiership Rugby - 2017/18 Saracens

Owen Farrel shows thumbs up to camera
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Much like Leinster in the Celtic League, Saracens maintained a steely grip on the English Premiership throughout the 2010’s. While their legacy may have been tarnished somewhat following their recent salary cap scandal, Sarries’ five titles guarantees all and sundry will associate the past decade with red, black and white excellence.

Along with that unprecedented domestic success, the club has claimed three of the last four Champions Cups to boot.

In the same vein as the Crusaders sides of the past three years, pinpointing one of Saracens’ many dominant title-winning teams of the past 10 years is no easy task. However, they were arguably at their peak by the time of the 2017-18 season; missing out in Europe sparked a massive end-of-season showing from Mark McCall’s men.

Despite finishing eight points behind modern arch-foes Exeter in second-place on the final standings, they put were in complete control on their way to a comfortable 10-27 win in the Final at Twickenham.

2017-18 Premiership Rugby Final team

15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jackson Wray, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie Geore, 1 Mako Vunipola.

Honourable mentions
2014-15 Saracens, 2016-17 Exeter Chiefs, 2018-19 Saracens.

Pro12/ Pro14 - 2012-13 Leinster

Leinster dominated the Celtic league in the last decade, claiming four titles with the aid of some of the game’s finest players. That said, Joe Schmidt’s class of 2012-13 were certainly the standouts.

Led by current coach Leo Cullen in the second row and boasting the likes of Brian O’Driscoll, Jamie Heaslip and Isa Nacewa in their ranks, Leinster ended the regular season in second to one of the finest Ulster lineups ever assembled. They demonstrated their undeniable class in the Final, however, as they put on a dogged display to win 18-24 at the RDS Arena.

This was the same core group of players that had won three European crowns in the preceding four years, having seen off Ulster in the 2012 Heineken Cup Final. In spite of Johnny Sexton’s departure to Racing Metro ahead of the next season, as well as Schmidt’s exit to take up the role of Ireland head coach, Leinster defended their title a year later and claimed two more titles by the end of the 2010’s. 

2012-13 Pro12 Final team

15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Ian Madigan, 11 Andrew Conway, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Leo Cullen (c) 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.

Honourable mentions
2016-17 Scarlets, 2017-18 Leinster.

Top 14 - 2013/14 Toulon

Bakkies Botha and Juan Smith of Toulon pose for photograph in club jackets
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

The Top 14 has long been regarded as the most physical league on the planet, with some of the finest (and biggest) names in the game turning out for a plethora of different clubs over the past decade.

Because of the staggering wealth of the club owners in France, there have been some truly exceptional teams assembled in the past, with players from all corners of the globe. That in mind, there has never been a side built quite like rugby’s answer to the Galacticos of Real Madrid: Mourad Boudjellal’s Toulon outfit.

Boasting World Cup winners from as many as three different nations, and led by the ever-inspiring Jonny Wilkinson, Toulon got revenge for their Final defeat the previous season with an 18-10 win over Castres in the 2014 title decider. In fact, despite bagging three successive Champions Cups between 2013 and 2015, Toulon lost four Top 14 Finals in the 2010’s.

Still, when they did get their hands on the Bouclier de Brennus, it was thoroughly deserved.

2013-14 Final team

15 Delon Armitage, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Jonny Wilkinson (c), 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Steffon Armitage, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Xavier Chiocci.

Honourable mentions:
2010-11 Toulouse, 2011-12 Toulouse, 2016-17 Clermont Auvergne.

Written by Shaun Goosen for Hollywoodbets.

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