THE 2012/13 RFU CHAMPIONSHIP DREAM XV
THE four RFU Championship semi-finalists dominate this years RFU Championship Dream XV with Newcastle and Nottingham, the top two sides from the regular season, boasting four representatives each.
Sponsored by the RFU, the Championship Dream XV is compiled using votes from all twelve Championship coaches who select their first choice 1-15 (excluding their own players) based on performances in the regular season. The player with the highest number of votes in their respective position is named in the Dream XV.
Newcastle’s Jimmy Gopperth received the highest number of votes from rival Championship coaches as the standout fly-half from the season and he is joined by Falcons team-mates, Jon Golding – the soon-to-be retired prop, former captain and lock James Hudson and hard-running centre Jamie Helleur.
2008/09 Dream XV hooker Joe Duffey makes a welcome return to the side in his final season as a Nottingham player. Green & Whites team-mate and London Irish-bound Nic Rouse – one of five Dream XV players to have signed for a top flight club next season – is included, too, alongside RFU Championship Player of the Year nominee Tim Streather, who has earned a move to Saracens on the back of his outstanding performances at centre, and Nottingham skipper and openside Brent Wilson.
Josh Bassett of inaugural Championship finalists Bedford retains his place in the side from last year, while Leeds duo, prolific try-scorer Dave Doherty and RFU Championship Player of the Year nominee Stevie McColl, get the nod at wing and full-back.
No.8 Mark Bright and flanker Chevvy Pennycook (both London Scottish) are selected in the back row, Bristol’s Ruki Tipuna lines up at scrum-half, and Jon Brennan of Championship newcomers Jersey is the tight-head of choice.
RFU Championship Dream XV
Loose-head prop: JONNY GOLDING (NEWCASTLE FALCONS) A great servant to the Falcons over the years, the 30-year-old former England tourist scrums and carries ball with the best of them. Made 16 starts for the table-topping Falcons this season despite having had to continually manage a troublesome Achilles problem.
Hooker: JOE DUFFEY (NOTTINGHAM RUGBY) Another player set to hang up his boots after a long and distinguished club career. Consistently one of the best hookers in the league, Duffey is a wrecking-ball type of player who never fails to get over the gain line.
Tight-head prop: JON BRENNAN (JERSEY) Jersey’s longest-serving player has been the cornerstone of an impressive forward effort this season. An old-fashioned out-and-out scrummager who takes no prisoners in the set-piece.
Lock: JAMES HUDSON (NEWCASTLE FALCONS) An experienced leader who is one of the best lineout practitioners around. His impact in the latter stages of the season was restricted by a leg injury, but he did enough throughout the course of the season to catch the eye of opposition coaches. Will move to Gloucester in the summer.
Lock: NIC ROUSE (NOTTINGHAM RUGBY) Rouse racked up over 2,000 minutes of rugby and was a key component in Nottingham’s rise up the league table. Twice-selected before Rouse returns to the Dream XV after a four-year absence.
Flanker: CHEVVY PENNYCOOK (LONDON SCOTTISH) A virtual ever-present in the Exiles line-up, Pennycook scored six tries and was named London Scottish Players’ Player of the Season. Just edged out Sean Michael-Stephen and Rupert Cooper for the blindside berth.
Flanker: BRENT WILSON (NOTTINGHAM RUGBY) Wilson’s inclusion in the Dream XV crowns a remarkable second season at the Meadow Lane club. His no-nonsense approach and ability to lead by example also earned him the Nottingham Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year. With 13 tries in all competitions, the flanker finished the regular season as the club’s leading try-scorer.
No.8: MARK BRIGHT (LONDON SCOTTISH) New Zealand-born club captain Bright is no stranger to the Dream XV having been named in the select National One side five years in a row while at his previous club Redruth. Bright played 25 games for the Exiles and was the club’s leading try scorer for the season with nine.
Scrum-half: RUKI TIPUNA (BRISTOL RUGBY) Livewire scrum-half and former New Zealand age group international who delivers a fast pass and is quick to the breakdown. Started 12 of Bristol’s 22 Championship games and came off the bench six times.
Fly-half: JIMMY GOPPERTH (NEWCASTLE FALCONS) Deployed at full-back and fly-half this season, Gopperth has once again been integral to Newcastle’s success. Kicked 200 points and chipped in with six tries during the regular season.
Wing: DAVE DOHERTY (LEEDS CARNEGIE) The former Wasps and Sale speedster showed he’s still Premiership class with a string of impressive displays. Finished as the league’s second highest try scorer with 13.
Centre: JAMIE HELLEUR (NEWCASTLE FALCONS) Rock solid defender and scorer of one of the most bizarre tries of all time. His follow-up effort against Bedford, when he collected the ball from a penalty kick that had struck both uprights and the bar will go down in Geordie folklore. It has already attracted over 30,000 hits on YouTube.
Centre: TIM STREATHER (NOTTINGHAM RUGBY) The RFU Championship Player of the Year nominee earned a move to Saracens on the back of another superb season for Nottingham. Runs great lines and has the gas to beat defenders on the outside. Streather attracted 9 of the 11 votes cast in his position - more than any of the other selected players received.
Wing: JOSH BASSETT (BEDFORD BLUES) Wasps-bound winger with blistering pace who certainly knows his way to the try-line. Bassett finished as the Championship’s top try scorer in 2011/12 with 14 tries and has backed that up with another 11 this season.
Full-back: STEVIE McCOLL (LEEDS CARNEGIE) Watch Leeds Carnegie’s highlights reel and McColl dominates the footage with his dangerous runs from deep and solidity in defence. McColl won the Leeds Player of the Year award and is on the RPA Championship Player of the Year shortlist.
The Dream XV concept was first introduced by The Rugby Paper’s, Jon Newcombe, at the end of the 2003/04 season in his former role as editor of Rugby Times.