First AI assisted men and women’s combined Six Nations dream team named

Adam Kyriacou
Wales fly-half Dan Biggar against France alongside England prop Sarah Bern.

Wales fly-half Dan Biggar against France alongside England prop Sarah Bern.

The first ever combined men’s and women’s Six Nations dream team, selected using statistical/historic playing data and artificial intelligence (AI), has been announced.

Sage, Official Insights Partner of Six Nations Rugby, unveiled the line-up on Tuesday morning ahead of the 2024 Guinness men’s and women’s Six Nations Championships.

The all-star team features eleven Grand Slam winners, six Test captains, four players from the Championship winners, with a combined total of 955 caps to boot in the XV.

676 Championship players were analysed

As experts in data driven insight, Sage worked with Opta to use a unique AI powered algorithm analysing player performances from the last four years of the tournament.

This process took into account the performance of players made during every Six Nations match since 2020 and assessed their impact; both positive and negative.

Opta analysed 676 Championship players in total, and contenders across both the men’s (357) and women’s (319) game were ranked, as the top scorers made the XV.

When it comes to top scorers, England second-row Maro Itoje is the only player to have played all 1600 available minutes in the men’s Six Nations this decade, and Red Roses front-row Sarah Bern has crossed for at least three more tries than any other prop forward in the women’s tournament in the same time period.

In a powerful Anglo-French front-row, the trio of Grand Slam winners Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand (both France) and Bern are named, with Itoje and James Ryan (Ireland) completing the front five. The dominant Rachel Malcolm (Scotland), Marlie Packer (England) and Gregory Alldritt (France) complete a formidable forward pack.

Three-time men’s player of the Championship Antoine Dupont (France) partners with fly-half Dan Biggar (Wales). In the centres Gabrielle Vernier (France) and Emily Scarratt (England) are named, complementing a potent attacking back three of Jess Breach (England), Duhan van der Merwe and the now retired Stuart Hogg (both Scotland).

In announcing Sage’s combined team Sally Moore, Senior Director Global Sponsorship, Sage said: “As a company that understands the power of data and insights, we wanted to discover the best combined team from recent years by removing the subjectivity and use a consistent formula to measure and compare performance.

“In working with the team at Stats Perform, we are proud to champion the top players across the men’s and women’s games and present this in a way never seen before.

“This is great insight for rugby fans and it shows the level of data insights technology can bring to fans, pundits and media to enhance how we watch and understand the men’s and women’s Guinness Six Nations tournaments.”

Alex Rice, Chief Commercial Officer at Stats Perform, added: “We are proud to partner with Sage in assembling a formidable, combined men’s and women’s Championship team.

“The team has been selected utilising our unrivalled Opta database and unique algorithm, allowing men’s and women’s players to be compared equally for the first time.

“We are extremely excited to be supporting Sage and Six Nations rugby once again ahead of the 2024 Championships and look forward to another successful iteration of the Championship.”

Sage’s combined Guinness Six Nations dream XV*: 15 Stuart Hogg (Scotland), 14 Jess Breach (England), 13 Emily Scarratt (England), 12 Gabrielle Vernier (France), 11 Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland), 10 Dan Biggar (Wales), 9 Antoine Dupont (France), 8 Gregory Alldritt (France), 7 Marlie Packer (England), 6 Rachel Malcolm (Scotland), 5 James Ryan (Ireland), 4 Maro Itoje (England), 3 Sarah Bern (England), 2 Julien Marchand (France), 1 Cyril Baille (France)

*Data and insight used from the 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 men’s and women’s Championships

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