Our 7 to Watch at 2019 Rugby World Cup - Bournemouth 7s Festival

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18 Sep

Our 7 to Watch at 2019 Rugby World Cup

1. Sevu Reece | New Zealand

Reece’s incredible finishing ability, combination of lightning quick feet and raw power made him a nightmare for defences all year long and this was not ignored by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen who rewarded the world class performances with 3 appearances in the build up to the 2019. Reece scored 2 tries over the course of the 3 games and more than secured his place on the plane to Japan. It is unclear which back three combinations Hansen will go with throughout the pool games but it’s a good bet that Reece will link up Rieko Ioane and Ben Smith in the knockout stages of tournament, forming arguably the most frightening back three in World Rugby.

2. Pablo Matera | Argentina

Matera is the sort of player that you would create on a video game; he is incredibly big and strong, is extremely mobile and is always in the right place. The Argentinian talisman and his domestic side experienced an unexpectedly brilliant season which couldn’t have come at a better time with the RWC taking place relatively shortly after the conclusion of the Super Rugby season. In fact, Head Coach and Argentinian legend, Mario Ledesma has doubled down on the success of the Jaguares by omitting overseas stars like Santiago Cordero, Fernando Isa and Juan Imhoff from the RWC squad.

3. Finn Russell | Scotland

The scintillating fly half is arguably one of the most exciting players on the planet on his day and when firing, Russell can takeover a game single handedly (see 2019 6 Nations performance vs. England for reference) Scotland as a collective play an extremely appealing style of rugby that is tailored to getting the best out of the likes of Russell and if everything clicks at this years RWC then they should be a team that are a joy to watch. Let’s hope that Townsend and his coaching staff allow Russell to go full maverick as that’s when he’s truly at his best and most exciting.

4. Cheslin Kolbe | South Africa

This South African hot-stepper is one of the most exciting players to watch in the world, full stop. Not being able to avoid talk of his height (5’7”), Kolbe does his best to divert attention to his inhuman footwork, breaking more ankles in one game than most are able to in a full career. Kolbe is a relatively late bloomer on the international scene, only making his debut in 2018 at the age of 24 but has made his presence felt since then, featuring heavily in the side and proving to be an integral part of the 2019 Springboks side that won the 2019 Rugby Championship. If you’re not the biggest rugby fan then I urge you to Google this man’s highlights, he really is a joy to behold for any sports fan.

5. Antoine Dupont | France

At just 22 years of age, Dupont is a special young talent who has cemented his place as first pick for France, with many earmarking him as the next great French scrum-half. A metre-making, line-breaking phenom, he stands out amongst his contemporaries in terms of ball-in-hand threat, always presenting the danger of a cheeky offload . What he lacks in loftiness he makes up for in deceptive strength and doggedness. Dupont is setting the standard for scrum-halves the world over, and making a strong case for himself as a future great. If France exceed expectations this World Cup, expect him to be on the list of best players of the tournament, and  if they don’t; watch out for Dupont’s progression until 2023.

6. Josua Tuisova | Fiji

This mountain of a man is a dream to watch and a nightmare to face. Bumping away human bodies like they’re mannequins and reliably offloading to grateful runners, Tuisova offers blood, sweat, and tears (unfortunately, it’s quite often his opponent’s). Watching him plough through defences reminds us of the infamous words of Brian Moore when facing the reality of Jonah Lomu: “I suppose you might stop him with an elephant gun”, but something tells us Tuisova may even shrug that off.  Fiji’s trophy chances a slim to even slimmer, but catch ‘The Bus’ while you can, and see what damage he inflicts on Australia and Wales during the pool stages.

7. Maro Itoje | England

Because. Maro. Itoje. 

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