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01st Jan 2023

Two baffling omissions as Marcus Smith makes French reporters’ Team of the Year

Patrick McCarry

Marcus Smith

The Quins and England 10 has left a good impression.

The end of the year has seen the usual host of lists, ‘Best XVs’ and awards shared out. Midi Olympique has released its’ Test ‘Team of the Year’ and there is a sole English inclusion – Marcus Smith.

While Ireland finished 2022 as World No.1, the French outlet awarded its’ gold medal to Les Bleus (with Andy Farrell’s side getting the silver). It is hard to argue to vociferously, though, as France won all 10 of their Test matches in 2022 and captured a Six Nations Grand Slam.

In late November, the World Rugby Dream Team of the Year featured just two French stars – Antoine Dupont and Grégory Alldritt. The Midi selection has sought to right those perceived wrongs, with five France stars included, four from Ireland, two Springboks, two All Blacks, one Italian and one English player.

Two strange omissions

Now for those strange omissions. First up, for all of his obvious talents Marcus Smith getting the 10 jersey ahead of Johnny Sexton – the year’s stand-out 10 – is a stretch but the French reporters must like what they see..

Elsewhere, Ardie Savea (New Zealand) misses out on the back row again – this time to Siya Kolisi – while Sam Whitelock once again bumps out the excellent, consistent Eben Etzebeth (South Africa).

The four Ireland players involved in the Midi Olympique Team of the Year are – in the pack – Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne and Josh van der Flier, with Garry Ringrose joining former Munster man Damian de Allende in the centre.

Midi does make the (not uncommon) error of listing Leinster and Ireland flanker Josh van der Flier as playing with South Africa.

Damian Penaud and Cyril Baille were both hard done-by when they missed the World Rugby ‘Dream Team’ so it is good to see both French players included. The extra France inclusion comes in the stocky form of Toulouse hooker Julien Marchand.


15. Ange Capuozzo (Italy)
14. Damian Penaud (France)
13. Garry Ringrose (Ireland)
12. Damian de Allende (South Africa)
11. Caleb Clarke (New Zealand)
10. Marcus Smith (England)
9. Antoine Dupont (France)

1. Cyril Baille (France)
2. Julien Marchand (France)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
4. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
5. Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)
6. Siya Kolisi (South Africa)
7. Josh van der Flier (Ireland)
8. Grégory Alldritt (France)

Whatever way these Best XVs shake out, the constants are big numbers for Ireland and France – Test rugby’s two top dogs.

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