Planet Rugby

Six Nations: Team of the Championship

17th March 2014 10:46


Six Nations team of the tournament 2014

Stood out: Sexton and Launchbury

While the party continues for Ireland on St Patrick's Day, we have sat down and settled on our Six Nations Team of the Championship.

It wasn't easy and there is an omission set to ruffle feathers, but we settled on a team that includes five Irishmen and seven English.

So without further ado, here is our XV.

Six Nations Team of the Championship

15 Mike Brown (England): He topped the tournament's try-scoring chart, made metres (543), beat defenders for fun during the five rounds. Brown has now cemented his place at full-back in this team, with Alex Goode and Ben Foden now a good distance away from the Quin. He leaves nothing in the tank every time he steps out on to the pitch for club and country and deserves all the plaudits that come his way.

14 Yoann Huget (France): Harsh to leave out Andrew Trimble after a workmanlike championship under Joe Schmidt that saw him given a good run in the side. But there was one Frenchman who stood out from a disappointing bunch over February and March and that was Huget. The Toulouse finisher scored three tries - two of which being key against England and Scotland - as he gets the nod in our side. Munster beware in April.

13 Luther Burrell (England): We're not a sentimental bunch here at PR HQ and that has led to Brian O'Driscoll missing out. While he was Man of the Match in his last two outings - the one in France possibly debatable - we just thought Burrell was the most consistent 13 in the competition. Three tries to his name and he should've got more had he not been replaced in Rome. Definitely has his feet under the Test table.

12 Jamie Roberts (Wales): An initial mention for Billy Twelvetrees, who was excellent for England in a new-look midfield partnership. However, Roberts' devastating running was on show yet again as he stood out for Wales alongside Scott Williams, George North and Jonathan Davies.

11 George North (Wales): Far from Wales' best tournament, but North finished with three tries (more than any other left winger in the championship) and was a constant threat out wide when Wales managed to bring him into play. Questions over the lack of variety in Wales tactics will continue to rage on but there can be no doubting the 21-year-old's talent - more importantly, he's still only 21? One of the world's best, who stood out easily compared to Dave Kearney and Jonny May.

10 Jonathan Sexton (Ireland): Lifting the Six Nations trophy in the very city you play your club rugby could make for an uncomfortable welcome back to Racing Métro duty for Sexton. He won't care about that though as he enjoyed a personal championship that saw him top both the try and points charts. Next in line for this spot was England fly-half Owen Farrell, who is coming of age in the white jersey. Both were superb.

9 Danny Care (England): Stuart Lancaster has his nine and ten for the Rugby World Cup. There is a sprightly new edge to this English XV and Care has been the catalyst to that speed, having seemingly been given the right to keep the tempo high. His try against Wales set the tone in round four and he has been strong throughout, seeing off Conor Murray for this jersey. Lancaster's confidence in him really is paying off.

8 Jamie Heaslip (Ireland): Has been head and shoulders above his rivals for this position. Heaslip played every minute of the Irish's Six Nations campaign and rarely put a foot wrong. He sees off David Denton of Scotland, who went well when given opportunities.

7 Chris Henry (Ireland): Ireland needn't have worried about replacing Sean O'Brien. Calls have been made for some time to include Henry in Ireland's back-row and he repaid that faith handsomely. His try against Wales set Ireland on their way to their most impressive win of the tournament, while he was part of the choke tackle at the death in Paris that secured the title. It's no coincidence to see him involved in two huge moments for Ireland such as those. With O'Mahony, O'Brien, Tommy O'Donnell, Jordi Murphy and Rhys Ruddock all in contention in the back-row to name a few, Ireland have great depth. A mention for England captain Chris Robshaw - it was fitting that the skipper scored England's final try of championship after regularly topping the carrying and tackling stats throughout.

6 Tom Wood (England): England's quiet presence on the blindside exudes leadership and works tirelessly. A preferred option at the lineout, Wood also made 54 tackles and his carrying abilities for Stuart Lancaster are priceless. More importantly should England ever lose Chris Robshaw to injury, then they have a ready-made leader sat next to him in Wood. Dan Lydiate misses out despite making an impressive 66 tackles out of 66, but his penalty count against Ireland stuck on the mind. Peter O'Mahony and Yannick Nyanga are others who while both outstanding in the opening two matches both faded away through injury.

5 Courtney Lawes (England): One part of the standout lock partnership of the Six Nations, Lawes is another to have come of age in recent months as mistakes in his early career have been replaced by a consistent, mature and intelligent style of lock play. Lawes and Joe Launchbury got through a heap of work for England and were excellent in the set-piece, with Lawes taking plenty of line-out ball from the opposition throw. A word too for Italy's Joshua Furno who looks like a star for the future.

4 Joe Launchbury (England): Launchbury keeps producing for England at the tender age of 22. In such a young English team, he's arguably become a senior player quicker than expected but is taking on the challenge alongside Lawes as the locks go from strength to strength. He made several turnovers in the tournament. A mention also for Ireland's Devin Toner and also Italy's Quintin Geldenhuys, who was the top tackler (70).

3 Mike Ross (Ireland): At a time where quality tightheads are firstly rare beasts in world rugby, and secondly worth their considerable weight in gold, Ireland have a hefty prize in Ross. He hasn't always impressed supporters across the Emerald Isle, but the Leinsterman has adapted well to the new engagement protocols at scrum-time, and enjoyed a formidable Six Nations in the tight. And while a prop's bread and butter remains the scrummage, it is important the big men up front get about the pitch and do their share of the work in open play, an area in which Ross is really improving. A mention too for David Wilson, who as one of Europe's top exponents of the tweaked engagement, eschewed fears over Dan Cole's injury absence.

2 Dylan Hartley (England): Hartley enjoyed probably his best Six Nations to date after a tempestuous end to last season. His line-out throwing was excellent, and his carrying typically abrasive and effective. It's easy to see why he can rub opposition fans up the wrong way, and his discipline (or lack of it) continues to let him down at times, but this was an impressive tournament for the Northampton Saint who is maturing into one of Stuart Lancaster's core leaders. His rival, Rory Best, transferred his fine Ulster form to the Ireland jersey, and Dimitri Szarzweski went well after a disappointing campaign a year ago.

1 Cian Healy (Ireland): The outstanding loosehead of the tournament, Healy has added scrummaging nous and technique to his excellent carrying in the loose, and has become a more complete player as a result. Still good for the odd try or two, the Leinster juggernaut is growing in brains to match his serious bulk. Joe Marler deserves a mention for his efforts.

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