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URC Elite XV Features Six Irish Players

URC Elite XV Features Six Irish Players

Second row Niall Murray wins a lineout for Connacht against Leinster at the RDS last January ©INPHO/James Crombie

All five participating nations were represented in the United Rugby Championship Elite XV for the 2022/23 season, which was confirmed today.

Ireland accounted for six of the 15 players selected, which were determined by a media vote, with four coming from South Africa, two each from Scotland and Italy, and one from Wales.

A total of 11 teams – and seven of the top eight sides – had at least one player included, with Leinster leading the way with three.

Dan Sheehan, who pipped OFX Top Try Scorer Tom Stewart as the chosen hooker, Scott Penny and Ross Byrne were all nominated, the latter the only player to have made the Elite XV for two successive seasons.

The defending champions, the DHL Stormers, had Daniel du Plessis and Steven Kitshoff in the team, while Connacht duo Finlay Bealham and Niall Murray were also chosen.

Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls), Simone Gesi (Zebre Parma), Gavin Coombes (Munster), Vaea Fifita (Scarlets), Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks), Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) and Federico Ruzza (Benetton) made the cut as well.

Players had to have made a minimum of nine appearances to be considered, with the media panel given a shortlist of 10 players per position, provided by URC StatMaster.

The player with the most votes in each position earned a place in the team line-up.


15. Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls)
14. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh)
13. Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors)
12. Daniel du Plessis (DHL Stormers)
11. Simone Gesi (Zebre Parma)
10. Ross Byrne (Leinster)
9. Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks)
1. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers)
2. Dan Sheehan (Leinster)
3. Finlay Bealham (Connacht)
4. Niall Murray (Connacht)
5. Federico Ruzza (Benetton)
6. Vaea Fifita (Scarlets)
7. Scott Penny (Leinster)
8. Gavin Coombes (Munster)

Places in the Elite XV are the latest prizes to be revealed as part of three weeks of URC Awards announcements.

The Try of the Season, Ironman, Gilbert Golden Boot and Vodacom Fans’ Player of the Season are to be disclosed next week.

The BKT Coach of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season and Vodacom Fans’ Player of the Season are then revealed in the build-up to the final.


OFX Top Try Scorer: Tom Stewart (Ulster)

Tackle Machine: John Hodnett (Munster)

Turnover King: Thomas Young (Cardiff)

Next-Gen Player of the Season: Tom Stewart (Ulster)

Elite XV: Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls); Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors), Daniel du Plessis (DHL Stormers), Simone Gesi (Zebre Parma); Ross Byrne (Leinster), Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks); Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers), Dan Sheehan (Leinster), Finlay Bealham (Connacht), Niall Murray (Connacht), Federico Ruzza (Benetton), Vaea Fifita (Scarlets), Scott Penny (Leinster), Gavin Coombes (Munster).