England Rugby World Cup player ratings: Billy Vunipola disappoints as Ben Earl makes his mark

Ben Earl was England’s break-out star of the World Cup – Reuters/Sarah Meyssonnier


Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers) 7.5 out of 10

Phenomenal effort considering he came into this tournament off the back of a horrific ankle injury. So industrious and as he proved with one gallop down the wing he can be involved in open play.

Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers) 7.5

Scrum. Maul. Tackle. Repeat. Redemption. Cole’s performance, especially in the semi-final, demonstrated that there is still a place in the game for the set-piece specialist.

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks) 7

Started his tournament with a red card after two minutes and finished it in the eye of a storm. In between, underlined his value as England’s defensive leader, finishing as the leading tackler in the quarter and semis.

Theo Dan (Saracens) 6

You can see why he is so highly rated. Carries with a real ferocity, but his lineout work needs sharpening if he is to become Jamie George’s long-term successor.

Ben Earl (Saracens) 8.5

To think that Eddie Jones never gave him a start. This tournament was like his coming out party. Relished the responsibility of being England’s ball-carrier and was excellent on the back foot.

Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears) 6.5

Will be haunted by the second half against South Africa when the English scrum disintegrated. Saw flashes of his ball-carrying but not like the rampaging Baby Rhino of 2021.

Elis Genge showed flashes of physical dominance

Elis Genge showed flashes of physical dominance – Getty Images/Chris Hyde

Jamie George (Saracens) 7

His value to England was underlined by the fact he did three consecutive 80-minute performances. Lineout did wobble later against South Africa, but he is likely to be England’s hooker for the foreseeable future.

Maro Itoje (Saracens) 7.5

Good without hitting the heights of 2019. For the first time in his career, he is going to have a real fight to remain in the side with the emergence of Chessum and Martin.

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) 9

Borrowed the showbiz maxim of ‘always leave them wanting more’ by bowing out at a truly world class level. Brilliant lineout operator, immense jackaller and defensively outstanding.

Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints) 7

Just a ball of energy and seems to make every tackle like it is his last. A coach’s dream as a squad player and would be sorely missed if he goes to France.

Joe Marler (Harlequins) 8

Has a decent argument to be the second best scrummaging loosehead behind Ox Nche in the tournament. His petty Twitter spat with Andy Goode was an added bonus.

Joe Marler (right) was one of the strongest scrummagers at the tournament

Joe Marler (right) was one of the strongest scrummagers at the tournament – AFP/Anne-Christine Poujoulat

George Martin (Leicester Tigers) 7.5

England’s find of the World Cup. Sensational individual performance on the biggest stage, head and shoulders the best second row on the pitch against South Africa.

David Ribbans (Toulon) 6

Tournament ended with a full 80 minutes against Chile. Now ineligible for selection after moving to Toulon but England’s stock at second row looks deep.

Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks) 6

Bagged a try against Chile and had a final outing against Argentina, but biggest achievement was becoming England’s padel champion. Will play a bigger role post-Marler.

Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears) 5

Where was the fire and brimstone of the 2019 Sinckler? Focusing far more on his scrummaging, but that came apart in the semi-final.

Will Stuart (Bath Rugby) 6

Solid without being spectacular, so very much in the mould of Dan Cole. Will be fascinating to see if he or Sinckler inherit the tighthead mantle.

Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby) 7

What a comeback. From out of the squad, Underhill delivered a vintage defensive performance against Argentina. Really needs some luck now.

Billy Vunipola (Saracens) 4.5

Probably the biggest disappointment. Completely overtaken by Ben Earl and just could not stamp his mark on the tournament. Made some costly errors against the Springboks.

Billy Vunipola made costly errors in the semi-final and failed to stamp his mark

Billy Vunipola made costly errors in the semi-final and failed to stamp his mark – PA/Mike Egerton

Jack Walker (Harlequins) 5

No player featured less than his 25 minutes. Hooking stocks are probably the biggest area of concern going forward for Steve Borthwick.

Jack Willis (Toulouse) 6.5

Unfortunate to bow out the World Cup with a neck injury after an excellent performance against Chile. Out of contention now until he returns to the Premiership.


Henry Arundell (Racing 92) 6.5

The hardest player to score. Five tries against Chile, anonymous against Argentina. Is that his fault or the fault of England’s attacking system?

Danny Care (Harlequins) 7

Like a baseball relief pitcher offered the perfect change-up as a replacement for Mitchell, with added zip and energy.

Elliot Daly (Saracens) 7

Judge him by Borthwick’s metrics and will be close to a 9. Brilliant as a high ball fetcher. Did not look as comfortable at outside centre against Chile.

Owen Farrell (Saracens) 7.5

Whether you like it or not, this is his England team going forward. Yet the rage that drives him and his team-mates forward also burns him with referees.

The England captain's sharp tongue got him in trouble with referees

The England captain’s sharp tongue got him in trouble with referees – Getty Images/Adam Pretty

George Ford (Sale Sharks) 8

Interesting counterfactual: do England win the semi-final with Ford at 10? He was nearly flawless against Argentina and Japan and then cast to one side.

Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby) 6

Played in all seven matches and impressed in his only start against Chile. Big few months now ahead of him with Bath.

Max Malins (Bristol Bears) 5

A real sliding doors moment if he had started on the other wing against Chile. Instead it was Arundell who took the glory while Malins struggled to impress.

Joe Marchant (Stade Francais) 7.5

Don’t be surprised if he makes a rapid return to the Premiership because he became an integral part to England’s defensive system. Low key excellent.

Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby) 8

Again use the Borthwick benchmark and he barely put a foot wrong. The epitome of the selflessness that the head coach values so highly.

Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints) 7.5

From fourth to first-choice scrum half, Mitchell grew as the tournament progressed and his performance in the semi-final even had the South African coaches purring.

Alex Mitchell kicked supremely in the semi-final

Alex Mitchell kicked supremely in the semi-final – PA/Adam Davy

Marcus Smith (Harlequins) 7

Ouch. Battered against Fiji and beaten up against Argentina, the jury remains out on his full-back role. What is not in doubt is the spark he provides to an otherwise flat England attack.

Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers) 8

He has limitations with pace and distribution but his high ball work remains nearly perfect, which makes him invaluable in England’s system.

Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks) 5.5

Started and finished the tournament with a big tackle against Argentina. In between, there were not a whole lot of memorable contributions.

Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) 6

England’s most capped male player bowed out on his own terms with a farewell appearance against Argentina, which included a vintage Youngs dummy.

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