Six Nations: Eight contenders for the Player of the Championship
The final weekend of the Six Nations is upon us, with Super Saturday taking centre stage as supporters have three games to enjoy.
Ahead of the last round of action, Planet Rugby picks out our contenders for the coveted Player of the Championship award.
Thibaud Flament – France
In the absence of Cameron Woki, the Toulouse lock has snatched his opportunity in the starting line-up.
He has scored three tries in the tournament, dotting down against Italy in Round One and twice against England in Round Four.
His impact extends far further than on the scoreboard as he is France‘s top tackler in the Championship with 67 – a tally only bettered by Scotland’s Matt Fagerson (70).
He has also been France’s top lineout option, winning 15 lineouts – a fantastic tournament from the Frenchman and a serious contender for the official gong.
Antoine Dupont – France
A two-time award winner, Dupont has the opportunity to become the first Frenchman to claim it for a third time.
The French captain has been on top of his game throughout the Championship, producing moments of genius and ridiculous skill.
It’s no wonder his teammates call him ‘The Martian’; Dupont’s performances have really been out of this world.
The heartbeat of the French attack, he continually looks to be improving, and his ability to kick off both feet has been one of the biggest highlights of his game.
How did Dupont stop this try!? 🤯 #GuinnessSixNations #IREvFRApic.twitter.com/pkulyAX6Yu
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) February 11, 2023
Hugo Keenan – Ireland
We have favoured consistency throughout the competition when selecting our contenders, and if that were to be the deciding factor, Keenan would be the clear winner.
The entire tournament, the Irish full-back has hardly put a foot wrong and has played every minute for Andy Farrell’s side.
His consistency has been the cornerstone of his game since he made his Test debut, while he reinforced his attacking threat this Six Nations.
He tops the metres made in the tournament (497), while he has three try involvements (two tries and one assist). The 26-year-old has been sublime and will undoubtedly be a strong candidate for the official award.
☘️🇫🇷 A lovely score from Ireland, finished by Hugo Keenan. #IREvFRA pic.twitter.com/NBvOrw0evE
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) February 11, 2023
Josh van der Flier – Ireland
The World Player of the Year and a nominee for the Player of the Championship last year, Van der Flier picked up from where he left off last year.
Ever-present in the Ireland back-row, Van der Flier has been a crucial cog in the green machine’s march to being one win shy of a Grand Slam.
A threat in all facets of the game, he also showed his versatility throwing at the lineout against Scotland. That didn’t detract from his exceptional ball carries, thumping tackles and pestering work at the breakdown, as he has done all tournament.
Thomas Ramos – France
Like Flament, Ramos has thrived in a starting role for France this Six Nations, featuring prominently off the tee and around the park.
He is comfortably the Championship’s top scorer, with 68 points – 36 more than the next best Finn Russell – scoring three tries, 13 conversions, eight penalties and a drop goal. The only time Ramos has not scored in a match this Six Nations was in the loss to Ireland.
While his boot has been accurate from the tee, it has also been crucial in open play as France have managed to pin the opposition backwards with their kicking game.
Caelan Doris – Ireland
A statement performance against Wales in the tournament’s opening game lay a marker down for what was to come from Doris this year.
The powerhouse number kept the momentum from there and underpinned his world-class credentials with a remarkable performance in Round Two against France.
A move to the side of the scrum limited his impact somewhat against Italy, but he was still superb in the comfortable win. While he was forced off early on against Scotland, if Doris hits the highs of his first two outings in the tournament, he is arguably the front-runner for the award.
🧠 Psychology student.
🗣️ Open about mental health.
5⃣ things to know about the outstanding Caelan Doris.https://t.co/sJFID7QRP6
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) February 15, 2023
Huw Jones – Scotland
A rejuvenated Jones is loving life back in the blue of Scotland and leads the Championship for tries scored, dotting down four times, including a brace against France.
While Duhan van der Merwe was unplayable in the first two rounds, his influence over the next two fixtures has been far less impactful. However, Jones’ influence has only grown more the deeper we have gone into the Championship.
Yes, his attacking abilities have been fantastic to watch, but Jones has also been superb on the other side of the ball for a Scotland side that has been stingy on defence.
🏴 Scotland score the first try!
Huwipulotu does it again! 🤩#GuinnessSixNations #SCOvIREpic.twitter.com/KuhMhf9pV8
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) March 12, 2023
Gael Fickou – France
An understated presence in the French backline, Fickou is the glue that keeps it all together for Les Bleus.
Shaun Edwards is often quick to highlight just how important he is to the French defensive system, and there is no better marker for it than the win over Scotland.
He was simply superb that day, keeping Scotland at bay despite being a man down in the backline and effectively defending two channels.
He scored the crucial bonus point try that day, too and has popped up in vital moments throughout the tournament, making defensive interventions and try-scoring plays.
🇫🇷 At this point France were taking the mickey. #GuinnessSixNationspic.twitter.com/8qhLE60KKf
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) March 14, 2023
It really has been a fantastic edition of Rugby’s Greatest Championship, with several players showcasing their talents.
Ethan Dumortier earned his Test debut in Round One of the tournament, and after four straight starts, you think the 22-year-old was a 50-Test veteran by this stage. His fellow winger Damian Penaud has been box office once again.
Staying with the wingers, Ireland’s James Lowe and Mack Hansen have also been incredible throughout the tournament. Meanwhile, Duhan van der Merwe scored one of the tournament’s greatest-ever tries in Scotland’s win over England. Sione Tuipulotu has also been brilliant alongside Jones.
Ange Capuozzo looked to be having another Six Nations to remember in his first full tournament, but his Championship was unfortunately cut short through injury. Fellow countryman Lorenzo Cannone has been in inspired form for the Azzurri, as has Sebastian Negri and Federico Ruzza.
In the packs, Peter O’Mahony and Andrew Porter deserve mentions for their efforts for Ireland, while Taulupe Faletau has been one of Wales’ best. For England, Lewis Ludlam has been one of the best for the Red Rose. Freddie Steward has also been the shining light for England this Championship.
Finally, Finn Russell bossed proceedings for Scotland in the tournament’s opening rounds but fell short of securing a Triple Crown and ultimately sustained an injury.
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