Rating every Ireland player from the title-winning Six Nations campaign: ‘Ridiculous’ MVP in the pack and the ‘elite weapon’

Jared Wright
Split images of Tadhg Beirne, Andy Farrell and James Lowe during the Six Nations.

Tadhg Beirne and James Lowe were amoung the standouts for Ireland throughout the Six Nations.

Following the conclusion of the 2024 Six Nations, we rated all the players who featured in the Championship. Finally, we rate the champions, Ireland.

Andy Farrell used 32 players during the tournament, with three of the original squad members named for the Championship not featuring at all, namely Jacob Stockdale, Tom Stewart and Nick Timoney.

Ireland looked on track to winning back-to-back Grand Slams after the opening three rounds after collecting three bonus point victories before falling to a defeat at the hands of England. They recovered to defeat Scotland in a hard-fought encounter to defend their title.

Here is how we ranked their players.

Outside backs

Ciaran Frawley: Barely got on the park against France, shone in his first start at fullback for Ireland against Wales and was rewarded with a try. He came off the bench early in the loss to England but couldn’t finish the game due to an injury that ended his tournament. Good signs for Ireland going forward and just the kind of Swiss army knife Farrell needs if he is to persist with the 6-2 split. 6

Hugo Keenan: A campaign laden with injuries, causing him to miss two fixtures. But he was classy as ever when he did start as he continues to set the standard in the north as an all-round fullback. The diminutive outside back made some particularly great hits on defence. 7

Jordan Larmour: Entrusted with the starting fullback role in the finale, his first start since 2021, and just his second appearance of the Championship. Renowned for his fantastic footwork and attacking prowess, but we barely saw that despite his fine form pre-tournament. He will be disappointed that he didn’t make the most of his chances. 4

James Lowe: An elite weapon for Ireland in so many ways and he proved as much yet again. It’s almost cliche at this point to mention that his defence has improved in recent years, but that’s the truth. His left boot is nothing short of canon and crucial to Ireland’s success. Four tries is just reward for his efforts; with Mack Hansen injured, he stepped up in other facets, too. A sterling campaign. 8

Calvin Nash: Speaking of Hansen, when the Connacht star was ruled, there were major concerns about whether his void could be filled, but those were quickly put to bed when Nash shone against France. A try on debut sparked what would be a memorable debut Six Nations Championship. Hardly put a foot wrong and had a handful of standout moments. He showed he is ready for the big stage, but didn’t set it alight. 7

10 - Career defining tournament 9 - Outright blockbuster campaign 8 - Significantly influenced their team's campaign 7 - Committed and effective throughout 6 - Flash of brilliance outside of executing fundamentals 5 - Fulfilling the role required by positional (Base Level) 4 - Poor execution of fundamentals 3 - Costly errors and/or discipline that proved costly 2 - Poor performances that directly impacted the result of key games 1 - Grossly ineffective throughout 0 - Should have carried water instead

Our Six Nations player rating key.


Bundee Aki: Simply picked up from where he left off in the Rugby World Cup, with the only quiet game being the defeat to England, where the Red Rose defence targetted him well after he dominated the opening quarter. A key cog in the Irish backline and still one of the best inside centres in the world, definitely the best in the north on current form, a powerhouse world-class centre. 8

Robbie Henshaw: The boring balance that the blockbuster Bundee needed. You know what you are going to get from Henshaw week in and week out: a committed and effective performance on either side of the ball. Every Test team needs a midfielder of his ilk as he gives you a 7/10 out without little fuss and hardly ever puts a foot wrong. 7

Stuart McCloskey: One start and one cameo off the bench for a total of 94 minutes on the park. He assisted two tries in the hammering of Italy and possibly should have gotten more minutes, but that’s difficult when Aki is playing the way he is. Unfortunately, his limited time on the pitch impacts his rating. 6

Garry Ringrose: Injury and then a selection preference meant that he featured in just 24 minutes of Ireland’s tournament, enough to get a medal to be fair. Played on the wing during that time, gained over 60 metres, and was barely tested on defence. 5

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Ireland fly-half Jack Crowley kicking in Six Nations clash with Scotland.

Ireland fly-half Jack Crowley kicking in Six Nations clash with Scotland.

Harry Byrne: Two appearances, both off the bench, accounting for just 32 minutes. His tournament ended with a yellow card against Scotland, and he came off the bench with Ireland comfortably ahead against Italy. He didn’t really need to stamp his mark on proceedings, but at the same time, he didn’t make the most of his chance. 4

Craig Casey: A sole cap in Ireland’s run to the title, which perhaps should have led to another opportunity. He replicated the sort of impact Gibson-Park does in a livewire shift against the Azzurri as Ireland tore the Italian defence to shreds, which other sides struggled to do. 7

Jack Crowley: Stepped out of Johnny Sexton’s shadow and into the limelight, and while there were certainly lows in his Championship, he finished his first Six Nations as the main man in the number ten jumper with a winners’ medal – that matters. He tightened his grip on the starting jersey and has only dictated the Irish attack superbly; there is still much more to come from him. 8

Jamison Gibson-Park: There was always going to be a drop-off in game management and rugby IQ in the halfbacks with Sexton’s retirement, but Gibson-Park helped the transition be as seamless as possible. When the pack was dominating, the zippy nine got the backline humming. Best scrum-half in the tournament as a whole, edging Nolann Le Garrec, and a vital cog in the Irish starting XV. Simply, he is world-class. 9

Conor Murray: Plenty of the blame of the Irish loss to England was pinned on the experienced halfback but those critics will have quickly forgotten that he closed out three of the other games with little fuss. Still has plenty to offer Ireland on and off the pitch. 5

Loose forwards

Ryan Baird: It’s still yet to be determined whether his future is in the second or back row for Ireland going forward but either way, just wind him up and let him loose. He has an incredible work rate and blistering speed for such a big man. A few bright moments without really forcing a claim for more regular minutes. 6

Jack Conan: Grabbed a try in his only start, against Italy, and contributed each time he entered the fray off the bench. 6

Caelan Doris: Like many of his teammates, he started the tournament strongly and slipped off somewhat as the Six Nations progressed. Always racks up incredible work-rate numbers at the breakdown and with and without the ball. He didn’t hit his usual lofty standards that we have come to expect of him but not a poor campaign in the slightest. 7

Peter O’Mahony: Led his country to yet another Six Nations title in possibly his final campaign. He is still an outstanding lineout operator but will not be pleased with his two visits to the sin-bin. 6

Josh van der Flier: Ireland backing a 6-2 split on the bench meant that the former World Rugby Player of the Year did not need to go the distance in every single match. Still, he has set a high bar for himself and didn’t meet it this Six Nations despite winning the tournament. 6

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Ireland's Tadhg Beirne on their way over to score their side's second try of the game during the Guinness Six Nations match

Ireland’s Tadhg Beirne on their way over to score their side’s second try of the game during the Six Nations match at the Orange Velodrome in Marseille, France.

Tadhg Beirne: Ireland’s most important player? He could well be, the Irish attack feasts off of quick rucks and Beirne, along with Doris, are key contributors in this facet of the game. He has a ridiculous engine and work rate, and he flexed it throughout the tournament. He is a sensational talent in so many areas of the game and perhaps didn’t get the praise he deserved in the tournament. 9

Iain Henderson: Made two appearances off the bench against Italy and England, getting around 20 minutes in each fixture. Relatively quiet in both games and conceded two penalties against England, which proved costly. 4

Joe McCarthy: Like a good quality firework, McCarthy kicked off his maiden Six Nations with a deafening bang and a blinding light, but as the tournament went on, the bang died down, and the shine dissipated. His rampaging shift against France was backed up with the hammering of Italy, but from there, he was less effective and looked like a 22-year-old lock in Test rugby. This is no slight on him; it was still a strong tournament for the youngster, who has a bright future in the Irish pack and is just the kind of player Farrell needs in his engine room. 7

James Ryan: A solid cameo off the bench, a strong shift against Italy as Ireland bullied the Italian tight-five, but his campaign ended on a low note with a yellow card and injury against Wales. 6


Finlay Bealham: The Connacht man is really putting the pressure on Furlong through his performances, particularly in the set pieces. On a personal note, it was a strong campaign for the 32-year-old. He was key in closing out matches. 7

Tadhg Furlong: We saw some of the Furlong of old at times during the tournament with his hulking carries and strong scrum work. Hit with a personal tragedy during the Championship but still managed to put his best foot forward throughout as a magnificent show of strength. 7

Cian Healy: Tasked with closing out games once Porter had emptied the tank. Just 58 minutes in his four appearances but did what was required of him. 5

Oli Jager: The ex-Crusader got his Test debut against Wales with a 26-minute cameo where he racked up an impressive 11 tackles. The Welsh pack was atrocious this Six Nations, so Jager wasn’t fazed in the scrums and will certainly add to his caps. 6

Jeremy Loughman: Much like his Munster teammate, he just got a cameo off the bench with a 24-minute shift against Italy. 5

Tom O’Toole: Same as the above, solid in his only brief shift of the tournament. 5

Andrew Porter: Managed to shore up some of his scrummaging frailties that hurt Ireland during the World Cup. His work rate and fitness are unmatched by any front-rower in the Six Nations, as is his breakdown work. He is a contender for Ireland’s MVP with Beirne and took his game up a few notches this tournament. An incredible athlete. 8


Ronan Kelleher: His out-the-back-of-the-hand pass to Porter sealed the title for Ireland. Ireland’s lineout was operating at a brilliant success rate, and credit has to go to Kelleher for sharpening that area of his game. Took over from Sheehan in the latter stages of games and hardly put a foot wrong. 7

Dan Sheehan: Quietly went about his business, scoring five tries, a joint-tournament high, assisting another, too. A truly world-class player and comfortable in the conversation for the best hooker in the business. He had an outrageous talent, and we are not quite sure whether he was even at his best. 8

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