Five rounds of matches, no Grand Slam, but plenty of spectacular performances across the board. It’s time to pick out the best players in this year’s Six Nations.
England fell at the final hurdle in Dublin, missing out on a Slam as a result, while Ireland, France and Scotland all had their moments in an up-and-down tournament that saw Wales and Italy disappoint.
All in all our selection features a balance between the leading nations, with three from England, three from Ireland, and also three Scots.
See who made the cut below.
Six Nations 2017 – Team of the Tournament
15 Stuart Hogg (Scotland): Critics point to his defence but Hogg was a consistent force for Scotland throughout the tournament, finishing with three tries but also playing such a key role as a distributor in Scotland’s attack, with numerous assists to his name. Rob Kearney meanwhile enjoyed a resurgence in form before being hit by injury ahead of the final round.
14 Tommy Seymour (Scotland): Not exactly a breakout tournament for Seymour who has been prominent for Scotland over the last couple of years, but the big Glasgow wing looked lethal throughout this year’s Six Nations. Seymour’s positioning has been excellent and he has shown a real poacher’s ability over the tournament that will appeal to Warren Gatland. George North flashed into life against Ireland, but wasn’t consistent.
13 Rémi Lamerat (France): A class act. Lamerat was without doubt one of France’s best players in this year’s tournament, his first as a full-time starter in midfield for les Bleus, and the hard-running Clermont centre with soft hands consistenly caught the eye. Not only was he a hugely important part of France’s attack, but Lamerat was also one of the top turnover producers in this year’s Six Nations. He gets the nod over Jonathan Joseph, who was spectacular against Scotland, and the rapidly improving Ireland centre Garry Ringrose.
12 Owen Farrell (England): A rare off-day against Italy aside, Farrell underlined in this year’s tournament what a quality operator he is for England in midfield. The combination with George Ford worked well up until Dublin, when England needed slightly more ballast to counter Ireland’s rush defence, but some of Farrell’s distribution and tactical kicking in the tournament was outstanding. Scott Williams has cemented his Wales place ahead of Jamie Roberts, while Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw also had his moments.
11 Liam WIlliams (Wales): A tight call with Elliot Daly of England, whose best position surely isn’t on the wing, but Williams reminded us once again what a proven finisher he is out wide. Scythed through England for Wales’ only try in Cardiff and up until the final weekend had made more clean breaks in the championship than anybody else. Virimi Vakatawa of France, meanwhile is a joy to watch
10 Johnny Sexton (Ireland): Sexton didn’t even start until Round 3 but there was no mistaking who was the best number ten in Europe after he pulled the strings to great effect against France, before doing the same in flashes against Wales and England. Few fly-halves control a game better than Sexton. Finn Russell of Scotland and France’s Camille Lopez had their moments, good and bad, with the former outweighing the latter.
9 Rhys Webb (Wales): Perhaps the Lions selection battle with Conor Murray isn’t as straightforward as we all thought. Webb had a fine tournament for Wales, passing crisply to try and breathe some life into the Welsh attack, but his breaks around the fringe and pure speed are two huge assets that have the ability to break games open. If there was a debate about whether he or Gareth Davies should start, it is now all over.
8 Louis Picamoles (France): Consistently excellent, chewing up defenders and metres with ease as Picamoles shows no signs of slowing down at 31. Picamoles referenced the fact that his move to Northampton has made him fitter and the results speak for themselves. Nobody beat more defenders or made more offloads. A mention for Wales back row Ross Moriarty who was impressive in the first two matches of the tournament.
7 Sam Warburton (Wales): Warburton wore six on his back all tournament but we couldn’t leave the former Wales captain out. Much like Chris Robshaw in 2016, Warburton has thrived without the captaincy and consistently won turnovers at the breakdown while carrying freely. One of the top tacklers and turnover winners in the competition, and always useful at the lineout.
6 CJ Stander (Ireland): Being the first forward to score a hat-trick in Six Nations history and the first Irish player to do so since 2002 was already substantial evidence that Stander should make the cut, but he has been so much more than that for Ireland in this championship. Right at home at number eight in the win over England, from the blindside Stander has run riot, with the most carries of any player and only Picamoles beating more defenders. England’s Maro Itoje and France’s Kévin Gourdon both deserve huge praise.
5 Jonny Gray (Scotland): Faded ever so slightly in the final two weeks against England and Italy but Gray was the focal point of Scotland’s success in those home wins over first Ireland and then Wales, ensuring that he gets a spot in the second row. Frequently produced remarkable tackle counts and plays like a veteran at the age of 23. A mention for England’s Courtney Lawes who looks back to his best, and Alun Wyn Jones whose play is always at a high level.
4 Joe Launchbury (England): Developing into a truly world-class lock. Launchbury was arguably England’s best player over the course of the tournament, carrying relentlessly in attack and constantly finding himself near the top of the tackle count. Always a threat at the breakdown as well, winning a number of turnovers. He looks like a certain Lion, and possibly even a Lions Test starter. Credit to Ireland’s Donnacha Ryan, the unsung hero of a hard-working pack.
3 Tadgh Furlong (Ireland): Fast emerging as one of the world’s premier tightheads. Furlong’s technique at the scrum is excellent but it’s the other factors in his game, like his lifting at the lineout or his work-rate from ruck to ruck, which make him stand out. A certain Lions starter after a strong tournament. England’s Dan Cole and Scotland’s Zander Fagerson caught the eye as well.
2 Ken Owens (Wales): Excellent tournament for the Welsh hooker, who stood in part due to a lack of competition from elsewhere apart from Guilhelm Guirado, with others like Fraser Brown and Rory Best only flashing in patches. Owens is an absolute bull of a ball-carrier but also give Wales real leadership, while the lineout against Ireland in particular was first-rate.
1 Joe Marler (England): Kept out Mako Vunipola when the Saracens was fit again towards the end of the tournament and deservedly so, with Marler’s scrummaging work noticeably improving and his work around the field catching the eye as ever. Competition from Ireland’s Jack McGrath and also under-rated Scotland loosehead Gordon Reid.
Team of the Week (Round 5): 15 Jared Payne (Ireland), 14 Tommy Seymour (Scotland), 13 Rémi Lamerat (France), 12 Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), 11 Elliot Daly (England), 10 Finn Russell (Scotland), 9 Kieran Marmion (Ireland), 8 CJ Stander (Ireland), 7 Hamish Watson (Scotland), 6 Peter O’Mahony (Ireland), 5 Joe Launchbury (England), 4 Donnacha Ryan (Ireland), 3 Tadgh Furlong (Ireland), 2 Rory Best (Ireland), 1 Joe Marler (England)