Sam Knibbs

Six Nations: Team of the Tournament


Written by (Sam Knibbs)

Posted in :Original Content, Six Nations on 18 Mar 2013 at 15:33
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It was perhaps the lowest quality Six Nations to date, yet the Championship still mustered up a barnstorming finish with Wales ransacking any hopes of an English Grand Slam. The English will look back at a tournament of ‘could have beens’, with perhaps the most unnerving statistic being the fact they were out-scored over five matches by the possession starved Scots.

With Scotland and Italy taking fourth and fifth, it was Ireland and France that made up the numbers; a tournament to forget for lots of big name players. Amidst the dross there were some outstanding performers – here are the XV who stood out:

1. Gethin Jenkins (Wales): Showed you can’t buy experience with several dominant performances at scrum time.
2. Tom Youngs (England): He may be a recent front-row convert, but he has dynamism that most forwards dream of.
Next best: Richard Hibbard (Wales).
3. Adam Jones (Wales): Like Jenkins, Jones showed the value of experience dominating scrums and being in the right place at the right time in the loose.
4. Ian Evans (Wales): Formed strong partnerships with Andrew Coombs and Alun-Wyn Jones – the 6ft 8in lock had an outstanding campaign.
5. Geoff Parling (England): One of Lancaster’s go to men in the England pack, his work in the lineout is second to none.
Next best: Jim Hamilton (Scotland).
6. Alessandro Zanni (Italy): The Treviso flanker was a tackling machine for his side – he did some great work in defence.
Next best: Ryan Jones (Wales).
7. Justin Tipuric (Wales): Aged only 23, Tipuric will do well to perform better than he did in Cardiff on Saturday; showed two very different skill sets in setting up Alex Cuthbert’s scores.
Next best: Chris Robshaw (England)/Sam Warburton (Wales).
8. Sergio Parisse (Italy): Italy are no longer a one man team – but he is still the star player. He shows touches of class that transcend all but the greatest of players.
Next best: Louis Picamoles (France).
9. Greg Laidlaw (Scotland): Laidlaw was on the back foot for much of the campaign but managed to kick well to keep Scotland in matches – without him they would have struggled.
Next best: Mike Phillips (Wales).
10. Dan Biggar (Wales): The Welsh saw the best from the young Osprey as he finally took to the international stage. Another young Welshman who has more Championships to come his way.
Next best: Owen Farrell (England).
11. George North (Wales): Where some wingers drift in and out of matches, North does not. He can score tries as well as running his side out of trouble; a real asset.
12. Wesley Fofana (France): Showed his class when finally moved to the centre by boss Phillipe Saint-Andre. A deadly finisher from any distance.
Next best: Jamie Roberts (Wales).
13. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland): Not a Championship blessed by outside-centre wizardry – apart from one moment of madness however B’OD showed his warrior class.
14. Alex Cuthbert (Wales): He may not have performed to his best in every match, but when his country needed him he produced. The best wingers score in the big matches – something of a habit for Cuthbert.
15. Leigh Halfpenny (Wales): The best player in the tournament. No full-back came near his all-round excellence throughout.
Next best: Yoann Huget (France).

Player of the tournament: Leigh Halfpenny.

Try of the tournament: Cuthbert’s second against England. Fofana’s mesmeric score against England is a close second.

Unsung hero: Scotland captain Kelly Brown gave everything he had and more in helping his side to third place in the table.

Moment of the tournament: Outside of the drama of Cardiff, it has to be when giant French prop Vincent Debaty bulldozed two Scottish defenders, only to get greedy for a third – he ignored a simple pass to Vincent Clerc that would have led to an easy score. A flash of brilliance followed by calamity – not too unlike the entire French campaign.

Next season’s winners: France historically do well the year after a Lions tour. With young Gail Fickou the next big thing in world rugby to come – it could be a case of zeros to heroes for the French.



3 Comments

  • Very tough to give an accurate ‘Best of’ team, considering many had 2-3 good matches and 2-3 stinkers. Nonetheless, good calls all around. A strong finish certainly helped our cause. Great to see Ian getting some recognition, a solid grafter who went from no rugby since November to a dominant figure.

  • Comment 1, posted at 18.03.13 17:36:55 by Here be dragons Reply
    Under 19 player
     
  • Leigh definitely the standout of the 6 nations for me, Stuart Hogg also very strong. Good to see an in form Sam Warburton, certainly taking up the captaincy at his age for Wales was always gonna have an effect on his game. When he resumes captaincy at some point. He’ll have this experience to fall back on

  • Comment 2, posted at 18.03.13 19:50:42 by Ludz Reply
    LudzCurrie Cup player
     
  • Nicely written. Have to agree with your selections.

  • Comment 3, posted at 19.03.13 09:58:38 by King Shark Reply
    Author
    King SharkVodacom Cup player
     

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