Gerry Thornley’s Six Nations team of the tournament

Our rugby correspondent looks at the players who impressed in this year’s fractured tournament

France outhalf Romain Ntamack in action during the Six Nations game against Ireland at the Stade de France. Photograph:  Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images

France outhalf Romain Ntamack in action during the Six Nations game against Ireland at the Stade de France. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images

 

15 Anthony Bouthier (France)

The 28-year-old climbed from fourth tier to ProD2 with Vannes until signed by Montpellier last year. Marked debut against England with wondrous spiral kick, superb under high ball and scored fine try v Wales.

14 Jonny May (England)

Searingly quick and lethal finisher, May dragged England back into the opening game in Paris almost single-handedly with opportunist tries which ultimately went a long way towards them pipping France for the title.

13 Virimi Vakatawa (France)

Even when largely kept quiet, like last Saturday, still produced deft tip-on pass for one try and finished off another. Strength, elusiveness and offloading make him one of the most dangerous 13s in the world game.

12 Owen Farrell (England)

A second playmaker at 12 for first four games before kicking ad nauseum in Rome at ‘10’. Still, he ultimately captained his team to the title and hardly missed a kick save for Murrayfield storm. England’s driving force.

France winger Gaël Fickou runs through the Ireland defence before setting up his side’s first try for Antoine Dupont. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images
France winger Gaël Fickou runs through the Ireland defence before setting up his side’s first try for Antoine Dupont. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images

11 Gaël Fickou (France)

A more natural fit at inside centre but he started three games on the left wing, so his versatility as well as his form, strength in contact and strong carrying were a key element in France’s rejuvenation.

10 Romain Ntamack (France)

Lit the tournament up with the variety and vision of his game. A nerveless goal kicker, he won the golden boot with 57 points, scored three tries and had four assists. Only turned 21 last May! Wept.

9 Antoine Dupont (France)

Ticks every box – kicking, strength, vision, footwork, acceleration, deadly trailers and game breaker. Made the most offloads (12), had four try assists and carried for 249 metres. Should be France’s first ever player of the tournament.

1 Rory Sutherland (Scotland)

Along with Zander Fagerson, Sutherland has helped turn a Scottish Achilles heel, scrummaging, into a strength, and has been a dynamic carrier. Could be that rarity, a Scottish Lions Test contender.

England hooker Jamie George in action during the Six Nations game against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho
England hooker Jamie George in action during the Six Nations game against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho

2 Jamie George (England)

Another utterly reliable campaign. His set-piece proficiency is one of the rocks around which England’s latest title was built. A strong carrier and skilful hooker, albeit maybe England don’t always get the best out of him.

3 Kyle Sinckler (England)

Now a strong scrummager as well as a surprisingly nimble and dynamic carrier, and less ill-disciplined too. By contrast Mohamed Haouas’s rash red card against Scotland probably cost France a Slam.

4 Maro Itoje (England)

A title-winning cog for the third time in five years. Of 80 tackles, the third highest, 22 were ‘dominant’, which was eight more than anyone else. Played every minute, hit 33 more attacking breakdowns than anyone else and took 17 lineouts. A force of nature.

5 James Ryan (Ireland)

The one Irish player who didn’t take a backward step in Twickenham. Consistently showed up at the breakdown or in traffic, only three players made more than his 57 carries and he was excellent in the air too.

Ireland’s CJ Stander tackles France’s Antoine Dupont in Paris. Photograph: Dave Winter/Inpho
Ireland’s CJ Stander tackles France’s Antoine Dupont in Paris. Photograph: Dave Winter/Inpho

6 CJ Stander (Ireland)

Granted, only played the first five minutes at No 6 but he did play all bar one minute, was man-of-the-match in wins over Scotland and Wales, made the most carries in the tournament (78) won the most turnovers (7) and made 61 tackles.

7 Charles Ollivon (France)

At 26 a surprise but inspired choice as captain. Played every minute, was the tournament’s top try scorer (four), had four assists, was the fourth highest tackler (77), third highest offloader and won most lineouts (25).

8 Grégory Alldritt - France

Only 23, not a behemoth but dynamic and huge workload. Man-of-the-match against England, Italy and Ireland, second for carries (66), third for metres made (393), joint-second for breakdown steals (four) and second for tackles made (81). Nuff said.

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