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Expert Opinion – Who is the world’s best team

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Unfortunately in rugby this is only a hypothetical question.

These teams will not play each other unless the global season changes a lot. But that’s no fun, so let us take a look at the contenders anyway!

Crusaders

The Crusaders are Super Rugby champions and the most successful side in the competition’s history. Emerging from some relatively lean times they regained the Super Rugby title this year.

With Sam Whitelock, Kieran Read, Joe Moody, Cody Taylor, Matt Todd, Luke Romano, Wyatt Crockett and Scott Barrett, they have a full All Black pack. As a result, their set-piece is outstanding. In Richie Mo’unga they have a good goalkicker and the best defence in the southern hemisphere. This is a Kiwi team though, so they also have playmakers like Jack Goodhue and Ryan Crotty, and a back three of the calibre of Seta Tamanivalu, Israel Dagg and David Havili.

They are smartly coached by Scott Robertson and certainly have a strong claim to the Number 1 spot.

The 1014 were lucky enough to speak to Scott Roberston after he guided the Crusaders to the Super title, if you haven’t seen it then it is highly recommended.

Saracens

Saracens are double European champions and also won the Premiership title in 2016. They have six Lions from the recent tour of New Zealand (if you include Billy Vunipola, who was originally selected, but withdrew due to injury).

Saracens have World XV contenders in several positions, especially the pack. They have perhaps the most impressive defence outside the international game. Their set piece is world class. Owen Farrell is one of the world’s best goalkickers and they have arguably the best box kicker in the business in Richard Wigglesworth. They have all the tools to squeeze the life out of teams.

But Saracens are not a one-dimensional team. They score tries for fun, with a back three of Sean Maitland, Liam Williams and Alex Goode proving lethal this year. With game breakers like Schalk Britz and Alex Lozowski on the bench, Saracens often kick on late in the game too. Coached by the outstanding Mark McCall, if anyone can go toe to toe with the Crusaders, surely it is this team.

World Player of the Year nominee Maro Itoje
Photo Michael Paler

The Hurricanes

The Hurricanes failed to defend their Super Rugby title last year, however, they retained the best attack in the competition, scoring a record 596 points and 89 tries in 2017.

Any backline containing the likes of TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett, Nehe Milner Skudder and Vince Aso is truly frightening. The team has stars in the pack too, featuring Dane Coles, Vaea Fifita and Ardie Savea.

Coached by Chris Boyd, they are perhaps the only side who can challenge Saracens and the Crusaders for star power all across the team.

Don’t miss the following inteview with Hurricanes CEO Avan Lee. There is some genuine insight into what makes one of the top sides in the world tick.

Exeter Chiefs

Exeter Chiefs are still a hugely underrated team. The reigning English champions are top of the Premiership again this season. They have already beaten Glasgow at home and Montpellier away this year in Europe.

Exeter have incredible depth and team spirit, although they lack the star names of a team like the Hurricanes. They are an expansive team with a tight defence. Gareth Steenson is an excellent goalkicker, and they have playmakers like Ollie Devoto and Henry Slade. A back three including the likes of Jack Nowell, Ollie Woodburn and James Short will score tries. They keep the ball better than anyone around. They have a fantastic set piece and whenever they get into the 22 they seem to score a try.

Coached by Rob Baxter, it is difficult to recall a single player who failed to improve after joining them.

Honourable mentions

Honourable mentions also go to reigning Pro14 champions Scarlets, double Super Rugby finalists the Lions, and reigning Top14 champions Clermont. Anyone who sees La Rochelle play can make a case for them, and star-studded teams Leinster, Montpellier, Toulon, the Chiefs and the Highlanders also miss out.

The Verdict?

My choice is Saracens. I think they have a more rounded game than the other sides. They have won more trophies recently than the other sides on this list. They are perhaps in a later stage of their development as a team. I wouldn’t like to put money on it though!

Photos: www.photosport.nz

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4 COMMENTS

  1. This is an exercise in futility. You cannot compare teams who never play against each other and don’t even face the same competition.

    Would love to see a game between Saracens and Saders at a neutral venue though.

    ReplyReply