The Rugby World Cup enters a pivotal stage this weekend, as the race for a place in the semi-finals heats up. The best eight teams on the planet will compete across the quarterfinals in France, with the hopes of some of the main contenders hanging in the balance.
However, who have been some of the shock standout players at the Rugby World Cup to this point that could play a huge part in a potential success for their nation in Europe?
One star that certainly caught the imagination at the World Cup, despite his nation crashing out in the opening round was Nicolas Martins. Portugal was given the welcome home of champions after landing a first-ever victory at the competition in their final Pool stage match against Fiji.
Their standout star throughout the tournament was Nicolas Jackson. Martins played in four matches at the Rugby World Cup this year, scoring his first ever try and recording five points. He was a standout player despite defeat against Wales, and completed 29 passes, five offloads, and four clean breaks for Portugal.
There wasn’t much confidence surrounding England’s chances at the Rugby World Cup following a disappointing performance in the Six Nations earlier in the year. However, one of the team’s standout players has been a star that played a bit-part throughout the Six Nations. If anything, it could be argued that Ben Earl is now among the first names’ on the teamsheet for Steve Borthwick.
Earl has quickly made his own place in the England team, and has been a key part of the defence throughout the tournament. The player has made 20 carries, and has made 157 metres. In total, Earl has made 44 tackles so far at the World Cup, and he has made just three handling errors.
It has been an excellent start to the World Cup for Wales, as disappointments over the last 18 months have been quickly put in the rear-view mirror. A standout player for Warren Gatland’s side to this point has been centre Nick Tompkins. The 28-year-old has played in three of the nation’s matches at the World Cup to this point, and has scored five points.
The centre has contributed five points for his side, and has made 16 carries and 37 tackles. He boasts a tackle success rate of 77%, and has run passed opposing players on six occasions. Tompkins will continue to a vitally important player for Wales as the tournament progresses. Therefore, if you play fantasy rugby you can definitely think about Tompkins as a card to invest. Click here to learn more about fantasy rugby: https://www.oval3.game/
Ireland started the Rugby World Cup among the favourites to win the competition after their dominant Grand Slam success in the Six Nations earlier this year. They looked every bit like a potential champion in the pool stage as they finished top of the standings ahead of South Africa and Scotland. Tadhg Beirne looks to be one of their most important players, as the lock has now scored 50 points for his nation across 48 matches for Ireland.
Beirne has played in four matches at the Rugby World Cup this year, and he has already scored 15 points for the Irish, made up of three tries. All of the tries that he has scored this year have contributed to his overall tally at the Rugby World Cup. He has made 110 metres across the matches that he has played, completing 19 passes and making 39 tackles. His continued form will be a key factor behind Ireland’s chances of going deeper in the World Cup.
Fiji produced one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history by eliminating Australia in the pool stage for the first time ever. They have quickly become one of the most entertaining teams to watch at the tournament in France, and one of their standout players has been Waisea Nayacalevu.
The centre from Navua has played 37 times for his nations, and has scored 75 points. The 33-year-old has played four matches at the World Cup this year, and has scored two tries to record ten points for his nation. Nayacalevu has completed 26 carries, and has travelled 163 metres. He looks set to be an important player if Fiji are to end their wait for a semi-final appearance in the tournament.
Jac Morgan has been one of the standout younger players at the Rugby World Cup this year. The 23-year-old Welsh flanker had made just eleven appearances for Wales before the start of the tournament in France, but he has quickly become a key player of Warren Gatland’s side.
At the World Cup, he has played three times in 2023, scoring two tries to accumulate ten points for the nation. The flanker has an 80% tackle success rate, and has made 12 carries and travelled 71 metres for Wales.