United Rugby Championship

United Rugby Championship Round 1 - Team Of The Week

United Rugby Championship Round 1 - Team Of The Week

Round 1 of the 2023-2024 United Rugby Championship saw some sensational individual performances. Here is an ultimate team of the week.

Oct 23, 2023 by Philip Bendon
United Rugby Championship Round 1 - Team Of The Week

As the first round of the 2023-2024 United Rugby Championship unfolded, it brought with it a reminder of just why Rugby fans are so excited by the league. 

In this article, we'll dissect the standout performances from the opening week and assemble the ultimate "Team of the Week." 

With star-studded lineups from a mix of powerhouse teams, the competition was fierce, making the selection process a true challenge. 

From dazzling tries to bone-crushing tackles, some of the URC’s finest talent got their season off to a dynamic start. 

15. Shane Daly (Munster) – The Munster fullback returned to the red jersey with a bang. 

He covered the Sharks kicking game with aplomb, while putting in a handful of crucial last-ditch tackles. 

In attack, Daly once again proved that his best position is at fullback, where he gets more touches than on the wing. 

Runner-up: Warick Gelant (Stormers) 

14. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster) – It was a two-try season opener for a player who at one point was one of the most dangerous finishers in international rugby. 

One of those players, who when confident and in-form, is close to unstoppable. 

Defensively, he looks to be improving, which has been his biggest flaw over the years. 

Runner-up: Michael Lowry (Ulster). 

13. Huw Jones (Glasgow) – The Scottish international once again showed his class against Leinster. 

Seemingly unstoppable with the first hit, Jones powers through contact and has an uncanny ability to get his hands free for an offload. 

Runner-up: Tom Farrell (Connacht). 

12. Cathal Forde (Connacht) – The Connacht center had a field day against the Ospreys, and it was needed, given Connacht having arguably the world’s most in-form inside center in Bundee Aki yet to return. 

The 21-year-old Forde’s ability to play fly-half was evident, as he time and again, stood at first receiver and distributed sublimely. 

Runner-up: Sacha Mngomezulu (Stormers). 

11. Simone Gessi (Zebre) – He was valiant in a devastating loss in which his team came of so close to a first victory in 18 months. 

Two tries were just rewarded for his afternoon in which he secured the four try bonus point with a powerful effort through two Ulster tacklers. 

Runner-up: Stravino Jacobs (Bulls). 

10. Joey Carbery (Munster) – If anyone thought Carbery would take his fall from grace last season without a fight then think again. 

Carbery was superb in the season opener, creating line breaks, having a solid kicking game and defending well. 

Performances like these are crucial, if he is to hold off Jack Crowley and, more importantly, push for internationals honors once again. 

Runner-up: Ben Healy (Edinburgh) 

9. Herschel Jantjies (Stormers) – The Stormers scrumhalf may have fallen out of international favor, but he remains a dynamic threat around the breakdown. 

His slick passing game is a key component to the Stormers up-tempo attacking game and was on full display in Round 1. 

Runner-up: Caolin Blade (Connacht)

8. Cameron Hanekom (Bulls) – He's the latest from the South African backrow factory, and the 21-year-old could well prove to be the best in recent memory. 

Such is his ability, his presence in the backrow saw Springbok Elrigh Louw shift to the No. 7 shirt for the weekend. 

Scoring two tries on the weekend, Hanekom made yards with each carry into the Scarlets defense. 

Runner-up: Gavin Coombes (Munster).

7. Elrigh Louw (Bulls) – Shifted from his usual No. 8 to the side of the scrum, but the results were the same. 

Louw bossed the tackle area and halted Scarlets ball carriers in their tracks on a regular basis. 

His ball carrying is severely underrated and is crucial for the Bulls to get their dangerous backline on the front foot. 

Runner-up: Alex Kendellen (Munster) 

6. Taine Plumtree (Scarlets) – Plumtree is the one Scarlets player who came out of their drubbing in Pretoria with his credit intact.  

Highlighting why Welsh Rugby was so keen to rush him into the national setup, the rangy backrow showed his running ability on the highveld. Facing a physical Bulls backrow, Plumtree held his own and was rewarded with a well taken try. 

Runner-up: Cian Prendergast (Connacht). 

5. Ruan Nortje (Bulls) – The Bulls captain started the season with a cracking performance in a dominant win. 

Scoring two tries, Nortje looked to have added another layer of dynamism in the offseason. 

Physically, he looks more powerful, without losing his exceptional work rate around the park. 

Runner-up: Joe Joyce (Connacht). 

4. Edwin Edogbo (Munster) – The reigning champions have unearthed an absolute gem in gargantuan second row Edwin Edogbo. 

Scoring the Irish province’s first try of the season, the lock drove through the Sharks defenders as if they were a mere inconvenience. 

He's a special talent, and he certainly will learn from Springbok duo Jean Kleyn and RG Snyman when they return from the Rugby World Cup. 

Runner-up: Ross Molony (Leinster). 

3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow) – The Warriors tighthead returned from World Cup duty seamlessly as the Glaswegians got an important victory over Leinster. 

Utilising his trademark carries, Fagerson put in a strong 60-minute effort. 

Against an inexperienced Leinster front row, alongside his front-row buddies he got on top and set a solid platform. 

Runner-up: Neethling Fouche (Stormers). 

2. Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls) – A real find last season for the Bulls, Grobbelaar is in the mold of Stormers star Deon Fourie as a do it all jack-in-the-box style player. 

Immensely powerful, albeit somewhat undersized by South African terms, his prowess at the breakdown and in the carry was a key component in the Bulls powerful forward showing. 

Runner-up: Diarmuid Barron (Munster). 

1.Josh Wycherley (Munster) – The undersized loosehead put in a monstrous shift against a giant Sharks pack in Round 1. 

Still undersized in comparison to the other Irish loosehead options, Wycherley was crafty at scrum time and continually was industrious around the pitch.  

Runner-up: Oli Kebble (Glasgow).