Best and Worst list of Rugby 2022 – all tied up nice with an Xmas bow

Rugby Union

Wrapping up the presents, it’s appropriate to consider the Best and Worst list of Rugby 2022. From the teams and competitions across the globe, this is a small selection to end the calendar year on a positive note.

For all the positives in the sport, it is competitive, there must be a winning and a losing side. Though it is hard to judge, so from this rugby observer, it is a sample of the Best and Worst from across all Rugby 2022 – and there will be so many others to include [see your comments section below].

Many organizations are celebrating their calendars with annual awards at this time of year, while others wait until their finals are completed to announce positives and negatives. Here is a short collection of teams over 2022, of individuals that showed their Best or displayed their Worst of a range of men’s and women’s teams. Though, it isn’t solely focused on a negative theme (not 50/50) as the game has to be celebrated.

Not only now, all throughout the rugby season.

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So enjoy an early treat, as the seasonal smiles light up the grey skies of winter.

Best and Worst list of Rugby 2022

Different from the ‘naughty and nice list’ here it is a sample of your elite. The Best and Worst list of Rugby 2022 highlights positive play to start with [always the best present to open with].

Ange Capuozzo – Simply the Best

From Josh van der Flier to Ardie Savea, many names were called out loudly in 2022. The list would begin arguments within the Last Word on Rugby staff. This is why from the outside edge, in comes a bright light. Ange Capuozzo has enlightened Italian rugby, with his youthful enthusiasm and sharp skillset.

The above video was one of his finest, yet even with the Azzurri earning a 50% winning record this year, others contributed to his nation’s success. Yet from his early years with Grenoble and Under-20 record with Italy, the young fullback showed incredible desire and [most importantly] acceleration.

Best try (nation) – Italy

Italy’s score v Wales in the Six Nations. Contributor Thomas Booth says that “It clinched the game, was perfectly executed and earnt the Italians a much-needed victory”. When Ange Capuozzo stepped inside the Welsh halfway line, his energy drove his nation to their first win in recent memory.

Individual try – Abby Dow (Red Roses semi-final)

In relation to the occasion, so many times the English Red Roses side have an extended points lead. Such a high aggregate could have un-nerved fans who witnessed the 2021 Rugby World Cup semi-final between Canada and England. Senior rugby department/site manager Raheem Bashir nominates the below moment as a leading light of this year.

In the 49th-minute, England scored the try that allowed them to win their semi-final game over Rugby Canada After the North Americans almost scored, Claudia Macdonald ran with the ball out of the Roses’ in-goal. Passed to Abby Dow, who just ‘guns it’ as England ran across the field in a game-changer, as the Red Roses won 26-19 over Canada.

Best domestic competition Champions – Leicester Tigers

For as much as the quality of the Gallagher Premiership, the story of the Leicester Tigers returning to the top of the English rugby system is an emotional one. Redeeming the club after all these years, Ellis Genge lifted the Cup and the Tigers’ fans went into jubilation (see main photo).

Most well-received new team – Fijian Drua

Few will argue that the Pacific Islands have contributed so much to Super Rugby, it was only fitting that one of the newest sides in Tier One domestic rugby was the Fijian Drua. A composite side made up of mainly Fijian-players, based in Australia.

While playing the majority of games on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, the Fijian Drua took a fixture back to Fiji against the Highlanders on April 30. And their debut season had begun wonderfully too, a third-round win over the Melbourne Rebels only added to the magic of a Pacifica franchise being included in Super Rugby Pacific, alongside Moana Pasifika.

Worst call of the year – Nic White/Bernard Foley

Returning to the Wallabies squad, Foley was looking to work well when he was selected to meet New Zealand in The Rugby Championship. Work with senior Australian player Nic White. Yet it earned an unfavourable alliance when in the last minutes of a closely fought game against New Zealand, a long, drawn-out process of taking a freekick was penalized. And with it, White and Foley became anti-heroes for Australia.

Time-wasting Wallabies Bledisloe Cup hopes dashed (yet) again

That was in that one game though, and in others for their nation, each has starred in many more. So one result might not overshadow the entire career, yet for the Best and Worst of Rugby 2022, it has made for a lowlight for contributor Thomas Booth.

Biggest step – Pita Gus Sowakula

In the opening match of Super Rugby Pacific [under closed borders of New Zealand] the big Fijian managed to step over Aaron Smith like he was a junior player. Acrobatic, he strides over the Highlander’s halfback then strode into his ‘one All Blacks test’ later that year.

Best talker – Ruby Tui

No argument from the rugby public here. Her charisma shone through from the very beginning (even before the 2021 Rugby World Cup) and by the end of the credits of the Eden Park epic, she became the sweetheart of women’s rugby. A laugh, a real dagg, and so honest it could create a wave of change in sports public relations globally.

So much has been sad about the former Sevens player, it should be left up to Ruby to say it herself. “They said nobody cares about women’s rugby but guess what — we out here, we out here fam. We’re going nowhere!”

Most favourite public speaker – Joe Marler

Interviewers might want to fully engage their subjects, however, Joe Marler is a treat to watch.  On numerous occasions over 2022, the Harlequins/England forward offered words, quotes, and comments that made fans chuckle, guffaw, and simply be enamoured at his natural charisma and bullshite.

Least favourite public speaker – Rassie Erasmus

How anyone might imagine conversing directly on the performance of an individual referee so publically would end up seeing him suspended as an administrator? Rassie apparently. Deprived of attending his own team’s performance and analysis for several weeks, was it worthwhile becoming a pariah to officialdom? Hardly.

Least favourite is a generalization [Rassie would be impressed]. No it is only when you question why did views total well into the hundreds of thousands be influenced by the International coach? His viewpoint must be interesting, just not one that fans need to hear from that target individual match officials.

Toughest tackler – Marika Koroibete

On numerous occasions, the intensely tough Wallaby outside back would bring down, push over, or plow through opposition. Hits on men like Makazole Mapimpi, Joe Marchant, and others felt his power. Never subtle, the winger would often take a hit himself; educating many youngsters that you should ‘give as good as you get’.

There are undoubtedly innumerable examples that could be highlighted across the last 12 months. Scroll down to the comments section, add your best and worst moments of 2022, and continue the conversation with Last Word on Rugby.

Staff suggestions: Best drop kick of the year

Out of favour Scotland flyhalf Adam Hastings gets some reward here, as he slots a drop goal from inside his own half to help Gloucester beat London Irish by a point.

Subsequently, the worst-judged drop kick was taken at the opening of the new Las Leonas rugby stadium in Spain. The mayor of Madrid attempts a dropkick that goes horribly wrong…

Worst haircut of the Year – Benhard Janse van Rensburg

Worst haircut in the Gallagher Premiership goes to London Irish centre Benhard Janse van Rensburg. One of the most underrated players in the league – excellent pick-up by London Irish – the ‘barnet’ on his head might just be one he regrets in later life, says senior contributor Charlie Inglefield.

Often an expression of the character of players, the mohawk of Joe Marler, the red streak of Ruby Tui, hair cuts and styles can sometimes identify the player – think Ma’a Nonu and his dreadlocks.

And finally, Ryan Jordan has nominated two acts that might be defined as ‘poor acting’ and another that might be the Poorest Technique of 2022. He first points out the ‘hollywood’ thrown by Nic White when, at the back of the scrum, and swipe from Faf de Klerk that lightly glanced the Wallabies halfback, almost saw White decapitated [if you believed the overreaction to it]. And the TMO did. de Klerk was sin binned in one of the most bizarre officiating of the year.

And then there was the brain explosion by Duhan van der Merwe when fending off London Irish’s Kyle Rowe. While the Scottish International has tremendous skills, this example would have to go down as an example of ‘over-enthusiasm getting the better of a player’. He was red-carded on TMO examination, and then suspended by the Premiership which saw him miss important Six Nations fixtures.

Now to close out this review, it is only best to end on a bright point.

Most consistent nation in Rugby 2022 – France

Le Bleus calendar year went unblemished. It included the nation’s first Grand Slam since 2010, and 13 Tests undefeated. An incredible feat from the men’s side, it has to bode well for a successful tilt at the country’s maiden World Cup in less than one year’s time.

Then you have to add to that:

  • their women’s side claimed bronze at the 2021 Rugby World Cup

  • La Rochelle earned their first Heineken Champions Cup title in June.

France is near to the top of the world in rugby terms. Maybe only Ireland currently could threaten their status, with their men ranked number one and their sevens teams coming on in leaps and strides.


So Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. On behalf of the staff and management, we would all like to thank you for your ongoing support and continued readership of our department’s contributions to the Last Word on Sport network.

Scroll down this page to the comments section, and add your own personal picks for 2022. And follow the Last Word on Rugby Facebook and Twitter accounts for more views, analysis and news over the New Year.


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