As the year draws to a close, Planet Rugby’s team of writers have sat down to select the best XV of players from the past 12 months of action.
Five people keep their places from the 2021 season, with Ireland going top with four representatives, while three nations have three players.
Our line-up also has some changes from the Planet Rugby Readers’ Team of the Year, with three backs and a completely different front row.
Planet Rugby Team of the Year
15 Jordi Barrett (New Zeland): The All Black starred in the number 15 shirt before impressing at 12 after a position change from Ian Foster paid off. While others like Angelo Capuozzo, Freddie Steward, Willie le Roux and Hugo Keenan had excellent years, we felt Barrett was the most consistent of a large group, as his value to the All Blacks was clear to all. He could be our 2022 full-back, but don’t be surprised if he’s our inside center next December.
14 Damian Penaud (France): Our second difference with your team came down the right wing, where Frenchman Penaud nodded Kurt-Lee Arendse. We settled on the brilliant Les Bleus after helping his country to a Six Nations Grand Slam, which he became undefeated a year. Penaud has been such a joy to watch in 2022 and has shown the finishing ability of him on several occasions. Such a balanced runner like him also said goodbye Will Giordano and Darcy Graham.
13 Rieko Ioane (New Zeland): The latest change to the backline you’ve settled on comes to the centre, where we felt Blues and New Zealand rider Ioane deserved the nod after his best year since bursting onto the Test scene as a winger . Persistence paid off for New Zealand as Ioane improved match by match on the international circuit to take the lead Lukhanyo Am, Gael Fickou and Len Ikitau. New Zealand are hoping Ioane builds on this form in a World Cup year.
12 Damiano de Allende (South Africa): We finally agree on something! De Allende was also our pick at 12 because the Springbok was a rock. While Bundee Aki, Barrett and Jonathan Danty Also impressive for Ireland, the All Blacks and France respectively, De Allende has shown how vital he is to South Africa’s hopefuls next year, as his physicality on and off the ball has given the Boks an edge at midfield. Even without the injured Am outside him, De Allende was tall.
11 Emiliano Boffelli (Argentina): What a fantastic year it has been for the Argentine footballer. His effortless style off the tee saw him score crucial points, not least against New Zealand and England, as Argentina’s memorable season was largely due to Boffelli. A threat even with the ball in hand, the Edinburgh full-back was superb when he was caught Marika Koroibete (Australia), Monty Ioane (Italy), James Lowe and Mac Hansen (both Ireland).
10 Johnny Sexton (Ireland): Sexton turned back the years for Ireland in 2022, as his experience and drive helped his side to an impressive campaign. Whilst they just missed out on Six Nations glory, a mid-year series win in New Zealand was then followed up with a win over South Africa in Dublin before injury limited his Autumn Nations series. Sexton did it Richie Mo’unga (New Zeland), Damian Willemse (South Africa) e Santiago Carrera (Argentina).
9Antoine Dupont (France): Pretty stark, though Jamison Gibson Park has been excellent for Ireland and Leinster this year, while Aaron Smith and Nicholas White he played well for New Zealand and Australia respectively. But Dupont was a level above and continues to show his class week after week for club and country. He helped France to an unbeaten year which included the Six Nations Grand Slam as his leadership in Charles Ollivon’s absence was exceptional.
8 Ardie Savea (New Zeland): What an incredible season it has been from number eight All Blacks. While others around him were struggling, Savea produced the goods every time he wore the shirt during tough times at the start of 2022. His ability to make meters in contact has been evident all year as his famous dummy made a comeback, this time in Cardiff. Celan Doris (Ireland), Gregory Alldritt (France) e Paul Matera (Argentina) receives mentions.
7 Josh van der Flier (Ireland): The World Rugby Player of the Year takes our early jersey seven Dalton Papali’i (New Zeland), Siya Kolisi (South Africa) e Juan Martín González (Argentina) in what was a pretty straightforward decision. Van der Flier has been immense over the past 12 months and has been producing the goods every week for Leinster and Ireland. He’s part of an outstanding defense for Ireland and, of course, hopes to have even more in the tank for 2023.
6 Peter O’Mahony (Ireland): Rounding out the same defensive row as Planet Rugby Readers’ Team of the Year is O’Mahony. The flanker’s work in the lineout, both on his own delivery and in defense, has been brilliant all year as he causes a lot of problems for the opposition hookers and jumpers. The 33-year-old comes forward Jamie Richie (Scotland), e Marco Kremer (Argentina) and like so many of this squad, his importance to the Rugby World Cup cannot be understated.
5 Tadhg Beirne (Ireland): The same can be said of Beirne, who joins his Munster and Ireland mate in our squad. He has everything a head coach could want in a modern lock; powerful, mobile, dexterous and annoying in the event of a breakdown. While Paul Willemse (France), Lood de Jager and Frank Mostert (both in South Africa) were strong in 2022, little discussion here as we simply had to find a place in Beirne in our back row combination.
4 Eben Etzabeth (South Africa): She had the largest margin of victory in reader polls, and it was a similar story at Planet Rugby HQ, as we all opted for Etzebeth en bloc. The Springbok enforcer has recovered from his injury in outstanding fashion and has dominated everything that has come against him this year. He looks fit, hungry and raring to go into 2023, which isn’t good news for rival groups on European club rugby and the international circuit ahead of the World Cup.
3 Frans Malherbe (South Africa): Our first difference of opinion from your pack came head-on, where Malherbe took over the jersey Tadgh Furlong (Ireland). The Springbok were rock solid going into the scrum and, despite the South African coaching team being fans of the forward rotation, Malherbe made it nearly impossible to put him on the bench, such is the quality of him. Somewhere else, Lomax tyre (New Zealand) e Uini Atonio (France) were solid, but for us it had to be Malherbe.
2 Giuliano Montoya (Argentina): You went for Malcolm Marx (South Africa), but opted for Montoya after his superb campaign for club and country. He helped Leicester Tigers to the Premiership title and was also instrumental in Argentina’s notable wins over the All Blacks in New Zealand and England at Twickenham, with his physicality something to behold. He greeted Marx, Julien Marchand (France), Dan Sheehan (Ireland) e Samisoni Taukei’aho (New Zealand) like our two.
1 Cyril Baille (France): The completion of the squad is one of the players of the year in our eyes, as Baille gets the call-up as our loose prop. France owe much of their success in 2022 to Baille, as he was excellent and a player who has few, if any, weaknesses in his game. While Steven Kitshoff (South Africa), Thomas Gallo (Argentina), Ellis Genge (England) e Andrew Porter (Ireland) performed superbly, Baille was not a difficult call to complete our epic XV.
READ MORE: Planet Rugby Readers Team of the Year: Votes count as six Springboks and five Irish players make up your lineup
The article Planet Rugby Team of the Year: Rieko Ioane, Damian Penaud and Frans Malherbe made it, but Ireland boast that most of the representatives appeared first on Planetrugby.com.