Thanks to Greg Boon (@AshesRugbyBoy) for sending us this article! Always happy to post blogs for people, you can send them to me Rich@rugbyunited.info. As long as it's rugby related, we'll blog it!
Six Nations Team of the Tournament 2015
It’s hard to believe that just a month ago, Steve Hanson claimed that rugby was becoming boring. In an interview with walesonline.co.uk the All Blacks coach said he “had big concerns about the game at the moment. There aren’t enough tries being scored, its turning the fans away”. To a certain degree, he’s right – the plethora of outstanding tries we saw on this last weekend was produced when teams set out to win, rather than not to lose. Even before the incredible final weekend though this was one of the best Six Nations in recent memory; England’s revenge in Cardiff followed by their naivety in Ireland, Wales’ incredible man-the-barricades-defence against Ireland and Scotland with some cutting edge to match their plucky courage yet ultimately falling to Italy. I’m choosing not to mention France, as an Englishman I am frustrated watching them, I can’t imagine how a fan of French rugby feels.
15. Stuart Hogg
The only Scotland player to make my team of the Six Nations. His performances will offer little consolation to a Scotland team that probably deserved more for their endeavour. It could have been so much worse had Hogg not been there to make last ditch tackles against England and Ireland. The stats show how influential he was in attack; 442 metres made and 18 defenders beaten.
14. Yoann Huget
Huget is the only member of the French team who has put in consistent performances. He played every minute of the Six Nations which under Philippe Saint-Andre’s regime is testament to his durability, at 6 foot 3 and 16 stone he can offer plenty of physicality but given the chance he has the flair that you would expect from a French wing.
13. Jonathan Joseph
Rightly or wrongly Joseph was probably third choice going into the e Championship. Injuries offered him an opportunity which he has taken in some style. He has received some comparisons to BBC pundit Jeremy Guscott, the acceleration and confidence in attack is similar, but Joseph has the footwork to beat the defender from a standing start and a special ability to float off the defender. Player of the Tournament?
12. Jamie Roberts
The Doctor is back to his barnstorming best. He is still the key to Gatland ball and to a large extent, stop Roberts, stop Wales which only underlines his importance. Yet against Italy we saw a turn of pace and how effective a dummy runner he is, everyone expects the ball to go to the big man on first phase ball. Roberts is also Wales’s defensive leader and made a telling intervention on a number of occasions.
11. Liam Williams
There is a strong argument for Williams wearing the Welsh fifteen jersey but in finding a place for him on the wing Gatland may have just found the best of both worlds. He is an intelligent footballer with terrific power, so often the spark to Wales’s expansive game. His inclusion in my team of the tournament will cause some debate but Williams reinvigorated Gatland’s title challenge.
10. Dan Bigger
George Ford was a close runner up, England have finally found an attacking Fly Half they cannot ignore. Sexton misses out after missing the first game through injury and delivering a confused performance in the clash against Wales. Biggar on the other hand is converting his domestic form onto the International stage, a fly half that is Jonny Wilkison-esq in his defence and kicking, but threatening and decisive in attack. A very impressive Six Nations.
09. Conor Murray
Murray has once again shown himself to be a cut above the rest and is now one of, if not the best scrum half in the world. His physicality around the breakdown and in defence is a plus, but of most value to Joe Schmidt is Murrays discipline and kicking game. His box kicking is one of the first choice weapons in Ireland’s armoury. Webb has helped to speed up and add a cutting edge to Wales’s game, while Ben Youngs gets an honourable mention as he looks close to best.
01. Joe Marler
Once labelled as a prop who could not scrummage, and then keeping the number one jersey warm for Alex Corbisiero and then a stop gap until Mako Vunipola had reached his full potential. Marler has surely now won over all doubters, he is as good a scrummager as any and more than a handful in the loose. He is a growing influence within England’s inner core of leaders.
02. Rory Best
Rory Best is the rock of Irelands scrum; the Irish hooker delivers outstanding performances time and time again. It is a simple game plan; he comes on, hits his line outs, scrums, and tackles himself into the ground. While Best is not the most mobile of hookers, he offers a huge amount in defence, an expert in the much vaunted Irish choke tackle and strong at the breakdown.
03. Dan Cole
You wouldn’t know that Cole was returning from a long term injury, he has seen off competition for his shirt with ease and once again established himself as he brought up his 50th cap. The Leicester man is fantastic in the scrum, and has the handy knack of always being on the right side of the referee. Let’s not forget Cole’s work at the breakdown, his ability to win turnovers will make some opensides jealous.
04. Paul O’Connell
This guy wouldn’t have looked out of place cracking skulls across the battlefield of Europe in the dark ages, instead he’s terrorising the rugby teams of Europe. O’Connell is a true leader who has led Ireland to back to back Championships. His smart score against Scotland was reward for his performances, he ran repeatedly into the Welsh defence in a desperate bid to get his team across the line.
05. Alun Wyn Jones
Jones has so long been the engine room at the heart of the Wales pack. He put in another excellent series of performances to drive Wales so close to the glory. Jones is at the forefront of everything Wales do; lineout technician, leader, the bulk to secure consistent ball from ruck and scrum. The Welshman is a fearsome competitor.
06. Peter O’Mahony
I’ve always had a soft spot for a traditional blind side flanker. When done right it is beautiful in his simplicity, Haskell did his usual two good games before getting lost and Lydiate is a defensive machine but O’Mahony tackles, carries, hits rucks, tackles, carries, hits rucks, tackles.. you get the picture. The Irishman is a huge ball carrier and makes his weight tell.
07. Sam Warburton
Welcome back Sam. Superb at the breakdown and so much more involved going forwards. Against Italy especially he was the link between backs and forwards, the man to keep the momentum going. Robshaw was superb and won the head to head with Sam but he was frustratingly naïve in Dublin and at times against France. Warburton made all the right calls.
08. Billy Vunipola
I was unsure how England would cope without the explosive power of Ben Morgan, having seen indifferent performances from Billy Vunipola. The big man won me over with his performance against Wales, a full eighty minute performance that he followed up with each and every game. It was clear that teams struggled to cope with his pace and physicality.
Thanks again to Greg for this article, who would you put in your 6 Nations side?
Let us know in the comments!