World Rugby

Top Five Individual Performances of Week Two of the Rugby World Cup

Top Five Individual Performances of Week Two of the Rugby World Cup

With another round of World Cup action complete, Flo Rugby takes a look at the top five best performers from the weekend.

Sep 20, 2023
Top Five Individual Performances of Week Two of the Rugby World Cup

While rugby is a team sport, top level matches often hinge on the exploits of individuals. No clearer is this the case than in the World Cup.

We’re yet to reach the knockouts, where this will become crystal clear, but just because the game in the group stages have at times been one-sided, that doesn't mean there haven't been players that stand above the rest and put in a performance to admire.

Here Flo Rugby takes a closer look at the five best individual performances from the second weekend of World Cup action.

Ben Earl 

England’s latest victory over Japan was far from iconic. Instead of piggybacking on their unlikely win over Argentina, England regressed and fell back into the trap of kicking at every opportunity.

It made for a drab affair with few standout interventions, except for Ben Earl who still put in a performance to be commended.

From his work at the breakdown, relentless presence in the onrushing defensive line, or insatiable energy whenever he caught the ball, he was a force to be reckoned with.

He’s come under a fair bit of criticism for his vibrant celebrations across the field, but after his continued excellence over the weekend, it may be time for the naysayers to quieten down and let the back-rower do his thing because he’s doing it so well.

Bundee Aki 

For the second week in a row, Bundee Aki has scored two tries for Ireland. Admittedly, both games have been rather one-sided affairs against Tonga and Romania.

In spite of that, Aki has been faultless in the midfield, causing defenders numerous headaches across the 80 minutes, mixing bruising carries with delicate offloading.

He was awarded the Player of the Match award for his efforts against Tonga and has now scored the most tries, beaten the most defenders (18) and made the most metres (375m) of anyone at this year’s World Cup.

Makazole Mapimpi

Makazole Mapimpi is no longer a first-choice starting winger for the Springboks, but you wouldn’t know that if you tuned in to watch South Africa over the weekend. In their 76-0 romping of Romania, Mapimpi managed to clinch a memorable hat-trick.

It began with less than seven minutes played, as the winger ran a well-time switch with Willie le Roux to stride over the try-line untouched.

He had to wait a while for his second, but it was worth the wait. After collecting a pass deep in his half, Mapimpi sprinted towards the halfway line, stepped a defender and scored in the corner.

Four minutes later, the winger was again unleashed down the left flank and converted with ease, capping off a memorable day for the World Cup winner.

Josua Tuisova 

When he’s raring to go, there are very few players who can stop Josua Tuisova. That’s exactly what Australia found out when they succumbed to a historic defeat at the hands of Fiji.

The Pacific Island nation managed to clock their first-ever win over the Wallabies in a World Cup – in what was also their first win over Australia since 1954 – and a huge reason for that was the performance of Tuisova.

The hulking inside centre scored Fiji’s only try, but it was his overall showing which truly caught the eye.

Over the course of the game, he made ten carries, beat ten defenders and won three turnovers, which makes for impressive reading. No one could argue when he received the Player of the Match award in the aftermath.

Nicolas Martins

Few expected Portugal to be competitive when they faced Wales over the weekend, and yet the team were surprisingly abrasive.

Indeed, you wouldn’t have known that their previous World Cup appearance was 16 years ago. Throughout the contest, Portugal frustrated Wales, putting in a strong defensive performance spearheaded by second-rower Nicolas Martins.

His work rate was noteworthy, but his standout moment came midway through the second half when Portugal had a lineout deep in the Wales 22.

The ball was launched to a lifter who instantly offloaded to Martins, who was waiting, caught the pass and duly took his opportunity to score. Portugal may have lost, but they can take great heart from the way they played, fronted by Martins.