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Here's The42's Six Nations Team of the Championship

Scotland and the champions dominate our selection.

OUR SIX NATIONS Team of The Championship 2016 is a mean one. It contains 15 terrific professionals, accomplished athletes, five Scots, five Englishmen, three Irishmen, an Italian, no Welshmen and one French front rower. Excellent rugby players all.

Some positions were easier selected than others. Some slots filled because there was one obvious stand-out performer over the past five games, others with a lot of hard-working contenders who deserve inclusion. But there could be only 15 (and eight replacements), here they are.

15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

The first name on our team-sheet (and not just because this is the order we do our team-sheets). Hogg was a howling gale of fresh air in a tournament that felt stuff compared to the thrilling World Cup. His ability to execute skills at frenetic pace had Scotland banging on the door in the opening weeks as well as the games they won.

Stuart Hogg celebrates at the final whistle Source: James Crombie/INPHO

14. Anthony Watson (England)

At 22, Watson has already matured into a wing who is capable of more than just finishing red zone chances. His aerial threat and pace when attacking from deep creates acres of space for the rest of Eddie Jones’ team to operate.

England v Wales - 2016 RBS Six Nations - Twickenham Stadium Source: Gareth Fuller

13. Michele Campagnaro (Italy)

The only player in this selection not to have made a Team of the Week during the Championship, but the outside centre is by no means a token selection. The Exeter Chief has been close to the top spot most weeks through his relentless work-rate in defence and powerful attacking running lines.

Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw tackle Michele Campagnaro Source: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

12. Owen Farrell (England)

The obvious selection here is a Welsh one, but Jamie Roberts really ran out of steam after two man-of-the-match displays inside the first seven days of the tournament.

Owen Farrell applauds the crowd Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Farrell is a different kind of centre, giving England an extra dimension with a playmaker in midfield, but he showed a lustful will to do the traditional stuff too. He smashed rucks, punched way above his weight in tackles and when George Ford was down or off the field, his goal-kicking remained spot on.

11. Andrew Trimble (Ireland)

Andrew Trimble and Jonathan Joseph Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

With every passing minute Trimble played, we couldn’t help wonder why Ulster’s record try-scorer wasn’t taken to the World Cup. The experienced wing put the odd foot wrong, but mainly under the weight of Billy Vunipola and his efforts in attack and the air helped Ireland turn their season towards a positive ending.

10. Jonathan Sexton (Ireland)

We know what you’re thinking and we agree: yes, it is unusual for an out-half not in the Championship running to be in its team of the tournament.

Jonathan Sexton Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Despite struggling with injury from the first weekend on, Ireland’s playmaker continued to tape himself up, pull himself together and rise to create the few openings the defending champions managed.

9. Greig Laidlaw (Scotland)

We haven’t had a vintage tournament of scrum-half play, but the Scottish skipper was integral to their resurgence, keeping the scoreboard ticking over, guiding his back-line and leading from the base.

Greig Laidlaw Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

1. Jack McGrath (Ireland)

Though McGrath again started this campaign while Cian Healy was in rehabilitation, this was the first tournament where Church’s return wasn’t openly pined for by the Irish rugby public.

Jack McGrath Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

That’s no slight on Healy, merely a sign of how immense McGrath is for Ireland these days. Powerful in the set-piece and relentlessly accurate in the open, the loosehead was one of the things which consistently went right when so much of the gameplan was falling apart.

2. Guilhem Guirado (France)

Like Ireland, the hooker took over the captaincy while the form of the team around him struggled, but Guirado was a man possessed while his team-mates stuttered.

Guilhem Guirado Source: James Crombie/INPHO

3. WP Nel (Scotland)

An absolute rock in the Scottish scrum and a formidable option whenever Laidlaw needed a solid carrying option.

Italy v Scotland - 2016 RBS Six Nations - Stadio Olimpico Source: Andrew Matthews

4. Jonny Gray (Scotland)

Missed the Ireland game, but the trademark work-rate he provides was the sandpaper that gave a smooth veneer to Scotland’s attack.

Wales v Scotland - 2016 RBS Six Nations - Principality Stadium Source: Joe Giddens

5. George Kruis (England)

Whoever lines out as his second row partner seem to get more attention, but on the field it’s hard to miss the Saracen’s work-rate and line-out excellence.

George Kruis and Jamie Heaslip Source: James Crombie/INPHO

6.  Chris Robshaw

The former captain showed the sort of attitude and application that earned him the job before his time. Moved to blindside, Robshaw was no longer burdened by questions about his credentials as an openside or a skipper and he simply got on with the business of imposing himself on every minute of every game.

Italy’s Michele Campagnaro is tackled by England’s Chris Robshaw Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

7. John Hardie (Scotland)

Added immense value to Scotland’s tempo in the World Cup, but was curtailed by concussion. In the Six Nations he got a clear run of games and consistently made his presence felt in the tackle and on the deck.

John Hardie jokes with fans after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

8. Billy Vunipola (England)

If you wanted a two-word explanation of how England managed to overpower five other nations and claim a Grand Slam then it’s simply Viliami Vunipola.

Rugby Union - RBS 6 Nations - Scotland v England - Murrayfield Stadium Source: EMPICS Sport

The big number eight was a force of nature in the first three weekends of the Championship, setting the tone for dominance with tackle-busting carries and timely offloads.


16. Dylan Hartley (England)
17. Alisdair Dickinson (Scotland)
18. Dan Cole (England)
19. Maro Itoje (England)
20. CJ Stander (Ireland)
21. Ben Youngs (England)
22. Jamie Roberts (Wales)
23. Tommy Seymour (Scotland)

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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