World Rugby

Team Of The Week From Round 4 Of The 2023 Rugby World Cup

Team Of The Week From Round 4 Of The 2023 Rugby World Cup

From Week 4 at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, here are the 15 players who stood out across the competition.

Oct 3, 2023 by Briar Napier
Team Of The Week From Round 4 Of The 2023 Rugby World Cup

2023 Rugby World Cup: The Best XV of Week 4

The pool stage of the 2023 Rugby World Cup is coming to a close soon, and the penultimate round had some crackers within it.

From New Zealand’s near-century over Italy to Fiji’s dramatic comeback win over Georgia, multiple standout performances were seen throughout Week 4 — and multiple individual stormers were a part of them.

Who stood out, though, and who made their marks in France over the past week of rugby? That’s a question that may get you a different answer from every rugby fan, but the XV below especially had stellar outings for their national sides.

Here’s a look at the best men at each position in Week 4 at the Rugby World Cup: 

15: Lomano Lemeki, Japan

The New Zealand-born Lemeki was named to his first starting XV of the World Cup against Samoa and thrived, being named man of the match, as his multiple long runs were the spark for a pair of Japanese tries, with one from the left wing in the buildup to Lappies Labuschagne’s score in the 13th minute being particularly impressive. 

Lemeki didn’t score a try, but he didn’t need to, as many of his carries throughout the match were influential in their own right.

14: Darcy Graham, Scotland

Even with Will Jordan’s spectacular outing in New Zealand’s record-setting defeat of Italy, it’s hard to score four tries in a single match and not be considered part of the team of the week. 

Graham picked up his second hat-trick, or better, in less than a year (also doing so against Argentina in last year’s autumn internationals) and ran more than 240 meters with the ball in his hands, as Scotland’s attacking workhorse in its 84-0 blowout of Romania to keep its hopes for the knockout rounds alive.

13: Canan Moodie, South Africa

The 20-year-old continues to impress at some of the highest stages of the game, and his debut World Cup has been no exception. 

In the Springboks’ win against Tonga, he scored in the 20th minute when a pass bounced off the shoulder of Vincent Koch and was (correctly) not ruled forward, allowing him to break free for a rather easy score, thanks to heads-up thinking. 

His attacking prowess will make him a man to watch for South Africa for World Cups to come.

12: Jordie Barrett, New Zealand

News flash — there are going to be a lot of All Blacks on this list. 

In his first game at the World Cup after sitting out New Zealand’s first two pool stage games while recovering from a knee injury, Barrett looked as if he hadn’t missed a step, dialing a gorgeous kick pass to Will Jordan for the first of 14 the All Blacks’ tries on the night against Italy in Lyon to help get the scoring party started. 

It was a strong 64 minutes from the youngest Barrett brother in a much-needed New Zealand masterclass.

11: Mark Telea, New Zealand

Telea bruised through multiple Italian defenders to score in the 19th minute, which by then was the All Blacks' third and the point where the wind seemed to be completely out of Italy’s sails in what would end up being a 96-17 smashing by the three-time world champions. 

He was a force all night, helping out in a support role to set up Dalton Papalii’s try in the second half following a run into open space, which the All Blacks had a lot of in last week’s match.

10: Ben Healy, Scotland

A near-impossible choice to make at fly-half, as New Zealand’s Richie Mo’unga, Georgia’s Luka Matkava and others also deserve shouts for their performances; the nod goes to Healy for his 11-for-11 performance on conversions in Scotland’s romp over a hapless Romania. 

The Ireland-born Edinburgh man at club level got in on the try-scoring in the second half, too, taking an offload from Graham and skirting around the defense to find five points from open play.

9: Aaron Smith, New Zealand

A first-half, 17-minute hat-trick? Yeah, that probably will earn you a spot in the team of the week. 

An acute scrum-half who seems to be showing little signs of his age as he turns 35 in November, Smith needed just 50 minutes of work to make his impact on the match, pulling the strings as one of the main ringleaders of the All Blacks’ magical match in Lyon — with a statement victory in their hands as a result. 

8: Ardie Savea, New Zealand

Friday night might have been one of Savea’s finest in an All Blacks shirt, which is saying something. 

He scored twice in the first half, though his clean break from his own 22 in the buildup to Telea’s try showed off some of the best parts of Savea’s game — pace, quick decisions and an ability to take over games. 

The former Hurricanes star (who is to play in Japan in 2024) was a menace running with the ball in his hands all match, and the Azzurri was helpless to keep up.

7: Levani Botia, Fiji

It was nearly Fiji being the recipients of a World Cup shock (via Georgia) after itself had been known for producing its own share of them over the years, but the La Rochelle player and the man of the match helped calm the troops with a strong second-half performance, while Fiji was facing a deficit for much of the final 40 minutes. 

Also, if you haven’t yet, watch his offload that directly led to Vinaya Habosi’s crucial try with 12 minutes to play. It’s that good.

6: Juan Martin Gonzales, Argentina

In a big moment for South American rugby — it was the first time that Argentina and Chile, or two nations from the continent at all, had ever met at a World Cup — Gonzales stepped up to the occasion with a brace against the Condores in Los Pumas’ dominant 59-5 victory. 

The summer Saracens signee churned through Chile and was among the many Argentine standouts from the day, as they await a Pool D eliminator against Japan on Sunday, likely with a trip to the knockouts on the line.

5: Marvin Orie, South Africa

No Springbok had more tackles than Orie’s 13 against Tonga, and he did it while being subbed off after 62 minutes. 

After a mishap from on the first one, a reliable connection with Deon Fourie (more on him later in this list) formed in the lineout, and Orie’s defense near the try line was strong in helping to ensure that the Sea Eagles weren’t able to make the score more interesting. 

4: Brodie Retallick, New Zealand

The fifth, and final, All Black to make the team of the week was a vintage test from Retallick in the pack, getting a short-range try on top of it all in the 50th minute. 

And of the (many) hits Italy took from New Zealand last week, Retallick probably delivered many of the biggest ones, helping crush the Azzurri’s spirit as the match wore on and only helping the All Blacks drive deeper and deeper to a devastating result.

3: Ben Tameifuna, Tonga

The ginormous Bordeaux prop, standing well over 300 pounds, is one of the most physically imposing presences in all of rugby, even while facing a side known for handing out bruises and breaks like the Springboks. 

“Big Ben” was the main driver behind a battle that the Sea Eagles kept for some time with the defending world champions, proving to be near-unshakable as he even barreled over the line for a try just before halftime to boot. 

2: Deon Fourie, South Africa

Deployed at hooker against Tonga, Fourie — in his first test start for the Springboks in the front row — was outstanding, and the late bloomer playing in his first World Cup at age 37 continues to turn heads as a dangerous South African multi-tool. 

On lineouts, he found a teammate 12-of-13 times (the one miss was more so due to Tonga outjumping the Boks), and with a rolling maul try in the 32nd minute, the man of the match got on the scoresheet for the second time in France, after also doing so against Romania. 

1: Angus Bell, Australia

The Wallabies’ hopes to reach the quarterfinals are on the ropes, but they’ll at least have plenty more years to get used to the 22-year-old Bell. 

His scrummaging was largely strong, and he charged over the line for a try in the 26th minute of Australia’s cut-and-dry victory over Portugal that the Wallabies needed to keep their minuscule aspirations of advancing alive. 

He’s one of the few Australian players leaving France in a better spot than when they arrived.