Six Nations award needs new approach
The folly of using man-of-the-match awards as the basis for the official RBS Six Nations player of the championship award was laid bare this afternoon as a shortlist that will have fans scratching their heads was released.
“All players recognised by the relevant television host broadcaster as man-of-the-match during the first four weekends of the championship were automatically placed in contention for the prestigious award,” trumpeted the official press release. What it failed to add is that by using said criteria the organisers have overlooked those players who have displayed consistent excellence over the course of the championship.
Four Welsh players have made the cut which, considering they are chasing a Grand Slam is fair enough. Dan Lydiate, Alex Cuthbert and Mike Philips could all have reasonable claims after solid performances but Sam Warburton? The Welsh skipper has only played in two of the four matches and lasted just 40 minutes in one of those! Super Sam was pretty impressive against England but one swallow does not make a summer.
Scotland, who must win in Rome at the weekend to avoid the wooden spoon have two contenders (David Denton and Ross Rennie) while second-placed England have . . . well, none. Go figure.
As for Ireland, well we have two names on the shortlist but certainly not the ones you’d expect. Surely Tommy Bowe, just one try away from an all-time Six Nations record, makes the grade? Eh, no. Nor does Stephen Ferris, the stand-out Irish player over the first four weekends, or even Rob Kearney who is back looking like the Lion he once was.
Instead, fans will be asked to choose Jonathon Sexton or Donnacha Ryan. Without being unkind, both would struggle to make it onto an Irish player of the tournament shortlist, again making a mockery of the whole process.
Time for a rethink.
For the record, here’s the shortlist in full.
Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate, Alex Cuthbert and Mike Philips
Julien Malzieu, Yoann Maestri and Imanol Harinordoquy
Jonathan Sexton and Donnacha Ryan
David Denton and Ross Rennie