Animal XV – could they beat the All Blacks?

Click here for the 2010 Animal XV!

1. Walrus

2. Silverback Gorilla

3. Grizzly Bear

4. Giraffe

5. Elephant

6. Polar Bear (c)

7. Hyena

8. Lion

9. Tazmanian Devil

10. Chimpanzee

11. Cheetah

12. Dolphin

13. Tiger

14. Gazelle

15. Racehorse

The All Blacks are overwhelming favourites for this year’s Rugby World Cup, and it will take something quite extraordinary to defeat them in the competition. With that in mind, I’ve been pondering over selection for the ultimate ‘Animal XV’ that might be able to give the All Blacks a good game.

At the cornerstone of the pack, I would choose the Walrus. Comfortable in wet or dry conditions, the walrus would bring experience and guile to the front row rather like Jason Leonard, the world’s most capped forward. While a lack of mobility and not the silkiest of hands lets him down slightly, his strength and power will more than make up for it.

On the other side of the scrum is the Grizzly, with its fearsome strength and relentless workrate in the loose, whilst at hooker, the Silverback Gorilla gets the nod, combining sheer size and strength with surprising dexterity.

In the engine room, the giraffe is a shoo-in, and the elephant will dovetail nicely, offering as much force as the giraffe’s height.

Competition in the back row is strong, but the Polar Bear is preferred at blindside flanker and will captain the side – he will be a rock in defence and offer Schalk Burger-esque aggression, whilst being a respected captain in the ‘lead-by-example’ mould of Martin Johnson. At openside, a ruthless scavenger is required – a player that lives on the edge of the law, and the Hyena fits the bill perfectly. The King of all animals starts at Number 8. The Lion will bring leadership to the pack, as well as strength and speed off the mark from the base of the scrum.

This formidable forward pack ticks all the boxes in strength, mobility, experience and determination and will undoubtedly provide a strong platform to release some exciting backs.

The half-back partnership is crucial to the team’s performance. At scrum-half needs to be strong, yet compact, with a feisty streak bordering on the irritating – the Tazmanian Devil fills this role comfortably.

At fly-half, the chimpanzee – the world’s most intelligent animal – will control the game. Supported by a full-back that will take on the kicking duties, the Chimpanzee will be the primary decision-maker with excellent distribution to provide the wide players with quality possession.

In the centres, there is again fierce competition, but the dolphin is selected at 12 with a proven track record of ball-carrying and renowned intelligence able to relieve the fly-half of pressure when required. The Tiger will then marshall the outside centre channel, ferocious and quick in attack, yet strong in defence.

The primary criterion for back-three players is out-and-out pace, hence the appearance of the Cheetah and Gazelle on the wings – indisputable speed. At full-back, the race horse combines speed with strength – important for the last line of defence – whilst offering the quiet confidence required for an exciting counter-attacking threat and undoubtable kicking prowess.

Power and pace, dexterity and determination – this is a formidable team. Are there any other animals worthy of consideration for a place in this team?

By James Hutchison

Polar Bear

The Polar Bear – blindside flanker and captain of the Animal XV

26 thoughts on “Animal XV – could they beat the All Blacks?

  1. How did the Rhino not make the front row!! Speed and power. It would eat the walrus!! Not literally though as the Rhino is a herbivore!

  2. The Rhino was considered at prop, number 8 and full-back, but didn’t make the final team – he was probably a victim of his own versatility.

  3. You have overlooked the rabbit because of its size, but it is actually very fast and can change direction quickly.

    I think it should replace the racing horse at full back as it would be able to squeeze through opponents. The racing horse should then replace the cheetah on the wing.

  4. Dropping the Cheetah is preposterous, like dropping Bryan Habana from the South Africa side – you just wouldn’t do it.

    The rabbit doesn’t really get a look in to be honest – too fluffy and not very frightening and the tiger would probably eat it.

  5. I’ve got something against a giraffe in the pack, too unstable and just a bit too “nice”. I say throw Martin Johnson in there amongst the beasts and see how he fares. Quite well i’d imagine.

  6. 1. Rhino, 2. Bison, 3. Hippo, 4. Giraffe, 5. Elephand, 6. Croc, 7. Shark, 8. Polar Bear, 9. Chimp, 10. Dolphin, 11. Cheetah. 12. Bull, 13. Tiger, 14. Panther, 15. Lion (Capt). Would pay money to watch them!

  7. That looks like a team Brian Ashton would pick. The bull at 12? Very big and slow, not offering much creativity – a bit like Andy Farrell. Massive pack as well, but think the Shark would be better on the blindside – just like Worsley.

    Good to see the Panther in there, and it’s a hell of a front row you’ve selected.

  8. A bull slow? Not according to bull running compatriots! Deceptive I believe – but I admit maybe in the Scott Gibbs mode. I was thinking elephant power and front jumper, giraffe a bit more finesse in the middle of the lineout.

    The brains of the team is obviously the dolphin, but perhaps lacking in distribution skills!

    The croc is underground but deadly – very much in the Richard Hill mode.

  9. I’d just like to back up Josh on the bulls not being slow. The Pamplona bull run sees 6 500kg+ bulls cover 800m in around 2mins 15. And its up-hill!

    Admittedly distribution skills are limited!

    Also I’d like to pay tribute to the shark at openside flanker. Absolutely savage!

  10. My XV is as follows (its obviously much better): 1 – Rhino, 2 – Silver back Gorilla, 3 – Liger, 4 – Giraffe, 5 – African bush Elephant (largest elephants), 6 – Lion, 7 – Tiger, 8 – Polar Bear, 9 – Wolf, 10 – Cassawara (very violent + fast), 11 – Pronghorn Antelope (2nd fastest animal), 12 – Quaterhorse (fastest horse), 13 – Gazelle, 14 – Cheetah (fastest), 15 – Kanagroo (strong legs and fast)

    My subs would then be: Hippo, Walrus, Kodiak Bear, American Bison, Coyote, Ostrich, Chimp.

  11. 1. Rhino, 2. Gorilla, 3. Bull, 4. Giraffe, 5. Elephant, 6. Honey Badger, 7. Hyena, 8. Polar Bear, 9. Tazmanian Devil, 10. Chimpanzee, 11. Cheetah, 12. Lion (Capt.), 13. Tiger, 14. Gazelle, 15. Racehorse

    Subs: 17. Hippo (front-row), 18. Shark (back-row), 19.Dolphin (10/centre), Greyhound (wing/counter-attcking fullback)

    Stick the Honey badger in there as “Pound-for-Pound” fiercest animal, will terrorise the opposition! Giraffe is a towering front jumper (great in defense, as opposition will need to clear it first), then can use honey badger or hyena (because they’re light as!)

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  13. Id put the Buffalo on Blindside or 8. Have you seen how 1 buffalo runs around with up to 4 lions hanging onto it!

    15.Race Horse
    6.Polar Bear
    2.Silver back

    front row lighter but lacking nothing in strength. just adds mobility

  14. 1.Walrus 2.Rhino 3.Hippo
    4.Giraffe 5.Elaphant
    6.Shark 8.Polar Bear 7.Golden Retriever
    11.Cheetah 14.Gazelle
    18.Grizzly Bear
    20.Mere cat
    Front row powerful and compact. The most resonable locks althought take the other 7 to lift elaphant. The back row a all round type. Halfs I think the rabbit was a good choice but got stuck at 1st 5 tiger is my carlos spencer.Centres bull ma’a Nonu big fast and got a bit of a hit, the lion nearley a tana umanga has a nack of ripping people to shreds. Back 3 cheetah and gazelle of course and although i’m a kiwi got too put in the roo

  15. Was in Thorpe Park with uni today discussing the animal first 15.

    1- Rhino
    2- Gorrila
    3- Bull
    4- Giraffe
    5- Elephant
    6- Grissly Bear
    7- Cheeta
    8- Polar bear

    9- Chimpanzee
    10- Sheepdog (c)
    11- Stallian horse
    12- Byson
    13- Lion
    14- Wildebeest
    15- Tiger

  16. Guys,

    Everyone is missing a trick here on the rhino front!!!

    You pick the WHITE rhino as hooker as he is steady and has a massive horn that might even shut Brian Moore up for a bit….PLEASE GOD!!!

    Then… pick the BLACK Rhino at 12! Smaller, quicker and compact with a devastating finish and loads of pent up aggression for smashing his opposite number(Scott Gibbs Mould).

    The only issue you have with this is that they don’t particularly like each other so probably stay away from the showers after if you have lost because old WHITE Rhino was not hitting his Giraffe in the Line out!!!!

  17. 1.Hippo 2.Gorilla 3.Rhino (White) 4.Bush Elephant(biggest) 5.Giraffe
    6.grizzly bear 7.Polar bear(c) 8.water buffalo

    9.hyena 10.Pronghorn Antelope (2nd fastest) 11.cheetah 12. Liger (big+fast) 13.ostrich 14.tiger 15.leopard

    Reserves: Lion, Wolf, Jaguar, cougar, Cassowary, Emu, Red Kangaroo,

  18. James – I agree with most of your selections and respect your policy to go with a blend of pace, power and skill. However, I think the Walrus was very lucky to make the cut. He would be a shoe in for an aquatic fifteen (captained by the Orca of course) but would struggle around the park to such an extent that he’d prove a liability.

    The polar bear is a natural and noble leader of the side and I applaud you for showing faith in him after recent indescresions in the North Pole.

    I would, however, also like to question your decision to overlook the fox at 9. We all know that there is no animal as clever as the fox. I could imagine him sniping around the scrum and decieving his opposite number with ease from phase ball. He also has a very good nose for a hole.

    So all-in-all, a very strong side brimming with potential. To Ollie who named the Wolf in the backline, you need to take a serious look at yourself. We all know that the Wolf is a pack animal!

  19. 1 – Hippo (Great in the scrum and powerful around the loose.)

    2 – Gorilla (Good setpiece and supreme tackler.)

    3 – Rhino (Strong scrum and unstoppable running.)

    4 – Bison
    (Two animals specializing in forward play and carrying.)
    5 – Buffalo

    6 – Polar Bear (Tackle, run, tackle.)

    7 – Brown Bear (Same as Polar bear.)

    8 – Elephant (Extremely powerful runner who is pivotal at 8.)

    9 – Siamang Gibbon (Quick, nimble hands and intelligent.)

    10 – Chimpanzee (Excellent passer yet physical. Good brain.)

    11 – Cheetah (Pure pace.)

    12 – Lion (Insane tackler and powerful runner at 12)

    13 – Tiger (Same as lion, but with slightly more pace + power. Good expansive play.)

    14 – Pronghorn (Slightly slower than the cheetah, with dazzling feet to add.)

    15 – Kangaroo (Formidable counter attack and confident under the high ball.)

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