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Rugby World Cup: Team of the tournament

The 10th Rugby World Cup concluded on Saturday, with South Africa claiming a record fourth title with a tense and tenacious 12-11 win over New Zealand.

The great and the good of the rugby union world have excelled over the last seven weeks or so and here is our take on those who have performed the best in their positions.

15. Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)

He has taken his time to grow into the 15 shirt but Barrett, a two-time men's World Player of the Year during his younger days positioned at fly-half, has excelled in the added space provided at the back.

The 32-year-old's kicking game is beautiful, while his reading of the game allows him to step in as first receiver when needed and release his fellow backs. His try in the final saw him become the first player to score in two finals, having also done so in 2015.

14. Damian Penaud (France)

Socks rolled down and always moments from chaos, Penaud might look unorthodox but boy is he effective, grabbing six tries as Les Bleus fell short, with his elusive style allowing him to make a tournament-high 13 clean breaks.

He looked set to share the try-scoring spoils before Will Jordan's hat-trick against Argentina but will go down as one of the stars of the tournament.

13. Waisea Nayacalevu (Fiji)

Does any other player possess a more devastating outside break? Waisea Nayacalevu has the pace, power and handling to not just get around or through his man, but also define the next phase of the attack.

Nayacalevu also led his Fijian team with aplomb, as they made it to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2007.

12. Bundee Aki (Ireland)

Robbie Henshaw's injury issues could have been a problem for Ireland but Bundee Aki was brilliant, with his 81 carries the second most in the tournament.

Aki's performances against South Africa and New Zealand were awe-inspiring and he looks to have locked down the Irish number 12 shirt.

11. Will Jordan (New Zealand)

The tournament's top try scorer as he became the fourth male player to touch down eight times at a single Rugby World Cup.

Jordan struggled in the opener against France and failed to get involved in the final. However, he was blistering in between and has to be recognised.

10. Richie Mo'unga (New Zealand)

Few players glide across the turf as gracefully as Mo'unga, another All Black who responded to his slow start to the tournament by guiding his team to the final.

His combination with full-back Barrett is arguably the best of all the 10-15 playmaking pairings, with his creativity matching his game management. 

9. Aaron Smith (New Zealand)

Another All Black who has rolled back the years in France, Aaron Smith's passing was as sharp as ever, but he also seemed to have rediscovered his running game.

Smith scored a hat-trick against Italy and retires from international rugby still among the elite.

1. Ox Nche (South Africa)

Ox Nche's exploits off the bench mean he is unlikely to ever regularly wear the starting shirt, but his impact in the tournament has been profound.

The Springbok star came into his own in the knockouts and is arguably the strongest scrummager in world rugby.

2. Peato Mauvaka (France)

An early replacement in France's opening win over New Zealand, Peato Mauvaka earned his place in the run-on side with his strong carrying and set-piece accuracy.

Mauvaka rumbled over for three tries in the tournament, often acting as an auxiliary back-rower on both sides of the ball.

3. Ben Tameifuna (Tonga)

‘Big Ben' Tameinfuna's performances matched his name as he led Tonga in the tight, scoring tries against Scotland and South Africa.

The tighthead also held his own in the scrum and his sheer size, both physically and in terms of enthusiasm, made him a standout in an improving side.

4. Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)

A prime candidate for the Men's World Player of the Year award, Eben Etzebeth was magnificent for much of the tournament.

He has always been a technically brilliant lock but now looks sharper than ever, scoring a fine try against France and proving an omnipotent nuisance.

5. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland) 

Arguably the most athletic player in world rugby, whether in the second or back rows, Tadhg Beirne always seems to excel.

An ever-present for Ireland, there was little more he could have done to help their cause.

6. Courtney Lawes (England)

It is the end of an era for England as Courtney Lawes prepares to step away from the international game.

Similar to Beirne, few forwards can match his line-out dominance with pure brilliance over the ball and he produced one of his greatest-ever performances in the Red Rose's semi-final defeat to South Africa.

7. Levani Botia (Fiji)

The best back-rower in the world? Levani Botia had to make do with a bench role in Fiji's opener but made an instant impact and was excellent from then on.

Incredibly strong over the ball, Botia is also a brutal carrier and is a candidate for any World XV.

8. Ardie Savea (New Zealand)

The best of the best and likely to rival Etzebeth for the indvidual honours, Ardie Savea may still be seen in some quarters as an openside but his all-court game makes him the ideal number eight.

Savea has the rare ability to both stand out individually - making a tournament-high 82 carries - and execute the calls that make everyone around him look better than their opposite number.

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