Champions Cup Team of the Week: French stars dominate with a healthy English contingent

James While
Bordeaux Begles star Damian Penaud, Toulouse's Antoine Dupont and Courtney Lawes of Northampton Saints during the Champions Cup.

Bordeaux Begles star Damian Penaud, Toulouse's Antoine Dupont and Courtney Lawes of Northampton Saints during the Champions Cup.

Now that the dust has settled on the third round of the Champions Cup, we have had a long conversation and settled on our Team of the Week.

There were some stellar showings throughout the penultimate round of pool-stage action as Bordeaux hammered Saracens with notably big wins for La Rochelle, Leinster, Harlequins, Toulouse and Northampton Saints.

So, without further ado and after plenty of debate among our team of writers, here’s our line-up as seven sides are represented in our selection. Comment below.

Champions Cup Team of Round Three

15 George Furbank (Northampton Saints): An incredibly competitive position yet again this week, but Furbank is having one hell of a year, and his Test recall will surely be announced this week. Blair Kinghorn also shone for Toulouse, whilst Devon Williams was in try-scoring form for the Stormers.

14 Damian Penuad (Bordeaux-Begles): With Tommy Freeman of Saints and Jordan Larmour of Leinster both in cracking form, it says something about the brilliance of Penaud that he was the first name we wrote down this week. Absolutely outstanding and arguably the best three quarter in the world at the moment.

13 Garry Ringrose (Leinster): Ringrose does so many things so well, and it’s his enablement for others that sees him get the nod this weekend over the claims of Bath’s Ollie Lawrence and Harlequins’ Oscar Beard, with an honourable mention too for UJ Seuteni, outstanding again for La Rochelle in their pummelling of Leicester Tigers.

12 Alex Nankivell (Munster): The brawny Kiwi crossed in Munster’s impressive win at Toulon. We were close to picking Rory Hutchinson of Saints yet again, who shone against Bayonne, with a shout-out too to Cameron Redpath, whose interplay with Lawrence was a feature of Bath’s win at the Recreation Ground.

French flair

11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey (Bordeaux-Begles): Bordeaux grab both our wing spots as the young left winger continues his impressive form in a memorable night for the Atlantic coast club. Thaakir Abrahams shone for Lyon, grabbing a brace against Connacht, with another South African flyer, Stormers’ Sergeal Petersen, getting our final mention.

10 Matthieu Jalibert (Bordeaux-Begles): Another Bordeaux nomination sees the mercurial Jalibert slot in at 10 as he ignited the absolute rout of Saracens in a brilliant individual display. Saints’ Fin Smith was at the heart of everything on Friday night and is starting to be discussed as a favourite to start for England in the Six Nations whilst down at Bath, Finn Russell got everybody talking again, but this time for completely melting 119kgs of Cameron Woki in a tackle that even surprised Russell himself.

9 Antoine Dupont (Toulouse): Is it possible to be the most capped player in a fantasy team? Well, we pick the great man so many times for our Team of the Week that it takes some display to unseat the brilliant nine. Ben Spencer tried his best to do so as he was magnificent for Bath at the Rec, and we also need to shout out his opposite number, Nolann le Garrec, who almost inspired a famous win for Racing 92. Finally, Danny Care was the architect of Harlequins’ demolition of Cardiff.

Saints duo and evergreen Frenchman

8 Gregory Alldritt (La Rochelle): When Alldritt was taking a well-earned rest from rugby, La Rochelle looked average. When he returns, they look like world beaters, and that says everything you need to know about our Player of the Week. But there were some other massive displays, too, with Hacjivah Dayimani starring for the Stormers, Caelan Doris shining for Leinster and Alexandre Roumat scoring for Toulouse.

7 Tom Pearson (Northampton Saints): The England hopeful grabbed a hat-trick in a sensational personal performance at the Gardens. He’s bolting on some brawn to his running game and may very well be England’s starting seven in Rome on February 3. Anthony Jelonch also impressed in a try-scoring shift for Toulouse, whilst the Bulls’ Elrigh Louw makes up our final nomination.

6 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints): Lawes is to Planet Rugby Team of the Weeks forward selections what Dupont to the back division. An all-time great that appears to be in the form of his career. A shout out to two other Test players, Deon Fourie, brilliant for the Stormers, and Francois Cros, his relentless self for Toulouse.

5 Emmanuel Meafou (Toulouse): Huge. Absolutely monstrous performance by a player who will shine in this season’s Six Nations, and he takes the shirt from another huge man, La Rochelle’s Will Skelton, with a nod to the impressive captaincy shift in defeat by Toulon’s David Ribbans.

4 Tadhg Beirne (Munster): The Munster great delivered an epic performance in his team’s dismantling of Toulon and simply gets better with age. Woki might have been folded in two by Russell, but his shift for Racing 92 was world-class. A shout out too for Toulouse’s Richie Arnold, who was influential against Ulster.

Big Bath boys

3 Thomas du Toit (Bath): Not many can play to Test level on both sides of the scrum, but Du Toit can. Add in his six tries in 12 matches, with another on Sunday against Racing, and you can see why he’s one of the signings of the season. A shout out to Uini Atonio, a huge man doing huge things for La Rochelle, and also Du Toit’s teammate Will Stuart, who carried on where the South African left off.

2 Peato Mauvaka (Toulouse): He scrummages like a Springbok and handles like a Kiwi. Once again, France’s Test hooker was in sparking form, seeing off the challenges of his French teammate Pierre Bougarit, with an honourable mention for Curtis Langdon, once again influential for Saints.

1 Beno Obano (Bath): Big ‘Bob’ was instrumental in winning five scrum penalties in Bath’s comeback against Racing 92 and was his usual rumbustious self in the loose. The evergreen Alex Waller grabbed a brace in the Saints’ rout of Bayonne, whilst Fin Baxter also got on the scoresheet for Quins in Cardiff. Finally, Bulls loosehead Gerhard Steenekamp made mince meat of the Bristol front-row as he continues to impress.

READ MORE: Bath v Racing 92: Five takeaways from Champions Cup thriller as several England hopefuls press their case