Animal XV Revisited: the 2010 selection

The Buffalo edges out the giraffe in the second row for good reason

The recent trip to Africa got me thinking about the Animal XV, and so three years on from the original, we thought we’d revisit selection.

Plenty of thought went into to that team with several knowledgeable people consulted for their opinions, and a quick glance down the teamsheet tells you that it’s a great side.

However, with the passage of time, the evolution of the game and some new research, we can make a few tweaks to the lineup – so here is our Animal XV 2010.

1. Rhino
Narrowly missed out originally, but widely tipped as the ideal front row option. Obvious strengths in the scrum, but with a surprising turn of speed when required. The rhino’s rarity will also prevent opposition analysts from performing much research, but rugby is a team game and so this animal must learn to mix with the others.

2. Silverback Gorilla
Retains the number 2 shirt, and should benefit further from the Rhino’s immovability at tighthead. Long arms will bind that front row together and sheer strength will ensure that it never takes a step backwards.

3. Bull
The bull edges in front of the Grizzly Bear in the latest selection, after new evidence came to light in Pamplona, where our scouts were able to testify as to the speed of this animal. Undoubted strength and a real asset in the tight and the loose.

4. Buffalo
Seeing the giraffe in action was what prompted the revision of this team. On paper the ideal candidate, but in reality, awkward, gangly and timid and takes 10 minutes just to stand up – not what you need at half time. The Buffalo on the other hand is surprisingly large and will bring more bulk and power to the second row.

5. Elephant
Retains the number 5 shirt, but there are one or two areas of its game to develop. A more aggressive edge would help, and needs to work on speed off the mark.

6. Polar Bear (c)
The most aggressive bear remains our trusted captain. There is no evidence of a decline in the ‘lead-by-example’ style of captaincy, and there is yet to be an opponent that has faced the polar bear and come out on top.

7. Shark
On the suggestion of various scouts, the shark has pipped the Hyena in the latest side. Fast and dangerous and will be a constant threat to anyone nearby, whilst the Hyena offers a great bench option to make an impact against tired opposition.

8. Lion
The talismanic Number 8 remains as part of the spine of this team, and has been working on back row moves where he switches places with the Polar Bear in some attacking situations to put the fear of God into the opposition scrum-half.

9. Tazmanian Devil
Despite the rabbit and various apes snapping at the Devil’s heels, our Tazmanian friend retains the number 9 slot. Pace, quality of distribution and that arrogant edge will keep the opponents honest.

10. Chimpanzee
A crucial position and a tricky role to fill, but we’ve kept faith with the Chimp. Other options included the dolphin (poor hands) and the sheepdog (takes orders rather than gives them), but the Chimp has the intelligence and the skills to boss the game.

11. Cheetah
You can’t drop the fastest animal, but needs to work on sprint endurance – 60 seconds of sprinting requires a few hours’ rest, and that simply doesn’t cut it at this level.

12. Dolphin
Despite question marks over the dolphin’s passing ability, we’re looking for a ball-carrying 12 and with so much Jonny Wilkinson-esque practice in that department, the dolphin stays and with some work on the offload, it could fix a couple of defenders and put the Tiger in space.

13. Tiger
Another of the trusted backline to maintain its position, and for good reason. Fast and deadly, and with the intelligence to avoid contact where necessary.

14. Greyhound
The greyhound usurps the gazelle on the wing, which seems to be too skittish and timid to be a real force on the wing. The greyhound has sheer pace and a will to win that ought to stand it in good stead.

15. Racehorse
The Kangaroo was tipped for full-back and would provide another kicking option, but the racehorse is maintained for its speed, strength and more elusive running lines.

There remains some room for improvement, and work must continue on encouraging teamwork and cooperation, drumming the selfish behaviour out of players such as the Tazmanian Devil and the Rhino.

Any suggestions are welcome as always.

40 thoughts on “Animal XV Revisited: the 2010 selection

  1. It’s a bit controversial to drop the giraffe but point taken. Also i think the Tasmanian Devil is a weakness at 9 and I’d rather have another ape (not sure if that’s allowed!) or a Golden Retriever at 9.

  2. Excellent stuff and good to see the Shark achieve Fantasy XV recognition. My only concern is the captain. Polar Bears are quite lonely creatures by nature although obviously that doesn’t mean he can’t lead by example. I’d be tempted to go for a Saltwater Croc at 6 for an absolutely savage flanker combination. Losing the Giraffe may limit lineout options but with such strength throughout that pack lifting shouldn’t be a problem.

  3. I think the Elephant is being overlooked as an asset in the lineout. With that trunk, I’d have him at 2, easily getting in front of the other jumper and he could cause real problems snaffling opposition ball.

    Moreover, as the picture shows, the Buffalo if also pretty big and if the Rhino and Bull can get him airborne between them, he’ll be almost unstoppable.

  4. Some friends of mine have suggested the size and intelligence of an Orca (Killer Whale) could be employed at 10 but I’m not quite as sure. Also, the balance of the back row may be better with a Weasel or Hyena at 7 (in a Neil Back esque openside) with the Shark moved to 8 and the Lion moved into the backs somewhere.

  5. Do we know how intelligent Killer Whales actually are? The fact that they swim onto a beach and get stuck would suggest not very, but I don’t have a complete picture.

  6. I’d back the Golden Retriever at 9 – will search hard for the ball and then redistribute well. The Tasmanian Devil’s off the field problems with personality issues could cause a crisis of confidence.

    I’d proffer a total rethink on the 2nd row – I think we’ve confused our locks and our flankers. Grizzly & Polar bears teaming up to stand tall and stocky are certain ball winners. Then you can move the charging Elephant to 7, Buffalo at 6. Seems a more obvious call to me.

    Would drop the Shark entirely and into a coaching role, insert the Hyena. Loud, relentless and will round on anyone who looks like they’re flagging.

  7. We’ve just had a pretty good shout for a Giant Octopus at 7. Intelligent, 8 arms and surely a nightmare to contain at the breakdown. He could even show 2 arms to the ref to demonstrate he’d released the tackler whilst still having a full 6 arms to nick the ball with.

  8. That’s an interesting suggestion for the octopus at 7, and a very different kettle of fish to the shark who is somewhat lacking in the arm department.

    I imagine an octopus has a pretty good hand off, and could fend with 3 or 4 limbs and still have another four to safely offload to put the Dolphin or Tiger through a gap, or even the Cheetah coming off the left wing.

    I like it.

  9. Surely with all those suckers the Octopus is going to get pinged for holding on constantly?!

    I’d also worry about the Lion’s temperament at number 8…especially with his head between an Elephant and a Buffalo. You’re just asking for trouble – the last thing we need is fighting/eating within our own team!

    Am also throwing out the option of a Blue Whale somewhere in the pack…preferably at 8. What it lacks in speed, it makes up in sheer size, and once it gets going it’s going to be difficult to stop. Can also slot in at second row should the Lion eat the Buffalo…

  10. Here’s Johnson’s team:
    1. Pig
    2. Goat
    3. Sheep
    4. Heffer
    5. Shetland pony
    6. Irish setter
    7. Hare
    8. Tortoise
    9. Ferret
    10. Fox
    11. Peregrine falcon
    12. Yorkshire Terrier
    13. St Bernard
    14. Squirrel
    15. Golden retriever

  11. I didn’t think a fantasy XV could make me laugh but seeing the tortoise at number 8 in Johnson’s pick got me going.

    Are dinosaurs allowed? A Bronchiosaurus in the row of woe and T-Rex at 12 and you’ve got an unbeatable team.

  12. Oh Uncle Mat, I’d only scrolled down as far as ‘Johnson’s team’ and ‘pig goat sheep’ and I was already spitting laughs at my screen. Superb monsieur, love it.

    Makes me wonder… are there other coaches’ styles you could mimic? Nick Mallett selecting a Sloth at scrum-half? Dean Richards trying to field 15 chameleons?

  13. Spike, surely that is your cue for a Dinosaur’s XV? I know at least one guy who would love that one.

  14. firsyl love this, best blog for ages and brightened up a very dull Friday. My observations are that in the main a good selection although surely the Peregrine Falcon at over 200mph must get a look in on the wing? Also surely the Hippo should be included in the front row on the same basis as the Rhino ie remarkable turn of pace, also able to play equally well in dry and wet conditions?

  15. I think the birds have been slightly overlooked in the Animal XV, and something like the vulture could be given a chance at 7, along with the falcon out wide.

  16. What about an Owl at 10? Wise old head, but, crucially is able to see any on-coming defenders with his 360 degree neck turning visibility…

  17. I’d like to propose a Capuchin monkey in a key decision-making role after first hand experience of how clever they are. They may lack in the size but are pretty rapid and elusiveover the first 5 metres.

    I think perhaps the Bird XV should be separate from the animal one (not volunteering, I am no ornithologist) as it would be very tricky to police the offside line when you’ve got to keep an eye on the octopus causing mayhem on the floor but also judge whether the peregrine falcon has stayed onside chasing the cross kick from the racehorse.

    Can I suggest a Russian Meerkat as team manager. If nothing else his catchphrase suggests he will not overcomplicate things.

  18. drop the Cheetah reasons: 1. name like that every ref will ping him before he gets to the try line, 2. endurance isn’t good enough, 3. not the fastest animal.

    replace him with the truly fast animal Peregrine Falcon, he can reach 320 km/h (200 mph) in a swoop in fact A study testing the flight physics of an “ideal falcon” found a theoretical speed limit at 400 km/h (250 mph) for low altitude flight and 625 km/h (390 mph) for high altitude flight, is small (body length of 34 to 58 centimetres (13–23 in) and a wingspan of around 80 to 120 centimetres (31–47 in) so very difficult to tackle and can turn sharply.

  19. Interesting. The falcon seems to be getting some support – would you drop the Cheetah over the Greyhound though? Or is the Falcon just a left-wing specialist?

  20. Suspect the Falcon would be a poor tackler, would a Gazelle be better on the left wing, the way they turn when being chased would be a great advantage

  21. Having been introduced to the Animal XV by Hutch over a beer last night & caught up with the history on the subject, I am concerned about the mixing of land, aquatic and avian team members. I think if God was keeping an eye on the Blog he would be disappointed that with so many spieces available for selection within each of these categories that we haven’t created a XV for each and scheduled some sort of round robin Tournament !

    Taking this approach would probably see a deserved return of the Hyena to the Animal openside and re-open the perfect centre partnership debate. With unparalleled ball handling skills I am sure the Seal will make the Aquatic XV and could quite frankly justify any role in the 3/4 line up.

    Look forward to reading the next iteration of ideas & just thought … what about reptiles ?

  22. That’s a bison, not a buffalo. That’s dumb Americans for you; they haven’t a clue about rugby players.

  23. Manager- Dolphin
    Backs Coach- Owl
    Forwards Coach- Pig

    1. Bison- Tank in the front row, does get quick aggressive sometimes. Mean ball carrier.
    2. Rhino- Great horn for some dirty work in the scrum, great off loader and tackler.
    3. Elephant- Big, heavy and cant run. sounds like the perfect prop. more aggression
    4. Buffalo- Good turn of pace, unshaven and takes no shit from the opposition.
    5. Brown Bear- second most aggressive bear, very strong and tall.
    6. Polar Bear- can tackle anything that moves, gets around the pitch and steals ball.
    7. Hyena- attacks the 10 and everything else, nicks ball and is a dirty old player.
    8. Gorilla-great of the scrum, strong hand off, surprisingly quick and wise head.
    9. Howler Monkey- controls the pack and gives great ball to the backs, goes blind also
    10. Kangaroo- can drop kick from own 22. good deliveries to a quick back line.
    11. Cheetah- just pure finishing pace, needs to qork on tackling.
    12. Bull- short ball offloading god. can charge through any defense with ease.
    13. Liger (c)- true cross between tiger and lion, but much much bigger. google it.
    14. Racehorse- Big wing to balance out other one. can run over and around people.
    15. Greyhound- good at counter attack and picking off forwards, poor kicking ability.

  24. Controversial selection I know but what about a black mamba at hooker?

    No hands…in fact having “hands like feet” would be an improvement.

    At home in the grass.
    Deadly quick when securing loose ball in the ruck.
    Lethal when on defense.
    Lastly…the opposition hooker is sure not gonna be happy at scrum time!

  25. Come on chaps – does it take a Welshman to suggest Dusty Hare, David Lyons, (Pine) Martyn Williams, (House) Martin Johnson, Tony Swift, Glen and Mark Ella (Phant), Jason Leopard (sorry!), John Eales, Starling Mortlock, Grant Fox, Dan Carthorse, Flea Halfpenny, Martin Kestrelgiovanni…I could go on but am doing this on client time!

  26. Haha, very good! How long did it take to think of all those? I’m sure your client will agree that it was a good use of time.

  27. Gotta be the Hippo in at no. 12. Built like a brick crap house and a great turn of pace. No step, but doesn’t need one. Put it’s baby behind the posts and watch it go through the opposition like a hot knife through butter…

  28. Given that that the Kiwi’s are ranked number 1 in the world at the moment, I have been trying to think of any native creatures from the land of the long white cloud that would make the grade.

    I can’t think of any however, this did start me thinking about if you could only pick animals that are native to each country, which country would come out top in an animal World Cup.

    My picks would be:

    – Give the number of creatures that could kill and eat you the Africa nations are going to fair well.

    – Austrailia with unique mix of weird and wonderful, half of which appear in the top 10 of most deadliest animals in the world, will be slow starters but will probably be the only team left at the end of tournament having bitten, stung or eaten all contenders.

    Have a good Friday.

  29. 1. Hippo
    2. Pamplona Bull
    3. Rhino
    4. Moose
    5. Elk
    6. Tiger
    7. Polar Bear
    8. Silverback Gorilla
    9. Hyena
    10. Chimpanzee
    11. Cheetah
    12. Lion
    13. Leopard
    14. Ostrich
    15. Wildebeest

    16. Wild Boar
    17. Bison
    18. African Buffalo
    19. Grizzly Bear
    20. Ram
    21. Kangaroo
    22. Horse

  30. Guys, I think you’ve missed a trick or two. The rhino needs to be in at tight head with the hippo on the bench ready to give some fresh legs for the final 20 minutes. The honey badger has to be a shoe in for the number 9 shirt despite the inevitable sin-binning – to be fair he’s the fist animal on the team list. Afraid we can’t agree with the racehorse at full back who we feel would be a liability in defence. For this reason we’ve gone for the animal that won’t change it’s spots in the leopard with the possibility of the emu on the bench primarily for its kicking ability. The grizzly bear would be on the bench as a utility forward.

  31. The swallow could be a wildcard for the wing. Just send a high ball up and see who gets to it first ten times out of ten- not the cheetah! He might be a defensive liability, but give him quality ball anywhere on the pitch and he’ll be dangerous.
    However, the ball may be too heavy for a European swallow, so you know what that means…

  32. 1rhino
    2silver back
    6polar bear
    7honey badger
    9springer spaniel
    14race horse

  33. Animal rugby

    1. Rhinoceros
    2. Silver back gorilla
    3. Bull
    4. Buffalo
    5. Elephant
    6. Black Panther
    7. Lion
    8. Grizzly Bear
    9. Tasmanian devil
    10. Chimpanzee
    11. Springbok
    12. Tiger
    13. Racehorse
    14. Cheetah
    15. Kangaroo

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