We have reached the end of another championship, with England securing their first tournament win in eight years. Nouse picks the individuals that shone.
1. Prop – Thomas Domingo (France) Perhaps the one area France were consistently at their best was the Scrum, down in large part to their pocket-rocket Domingo. The 5ft 8 loose-head had the edge over all his far larger rivals. England’s find of the tournament Alex Corbisiero ran him close however.
2. Hooker – Matthew Rees (Wales) The Welsh set-piece was expected to struggle this tournament, but has in fact been rock-solid, thanks in large part to their captain Rees who threw and scrummaged brilliantly. Dynamic in the loose as well.
3. Prop – Martin Castrogiovanni (Italy) No one puts in a harder shift than the Leicester tight-head. His guts, strength and effort epitomises an increasingly accomplished Italian side.
4. Lock – Ritchie Gray (Scotland) A giant of the Scottish pack in all senses. Gray quite staggeringly is not 22 until August, but led by example all championship and was one of its few consistently excellent performers. Has the tag of ‘future Scottish captain’ written all over him.
5. Lock – Tom Palmer (England) The Stade Francais man has come from nowhere in the last twelve months to become a vital cog in the English engine. The game in Dublin aside, when he was forced off early with injury, Palmer has been England’s standout performer in the pack. On the short-list for player of the tournament.
6. Flanker – Sean O’Brien (Ireland) Hugely impressive in his debut Six Nations, in which he played every minute. Incredibly explosive with ball in hand, he was a real handful for every opponent. The only surprise was that he wasn’t rewarded with a try at any point.
7. Flanker – Sam Warburton (Wales) The young Cardiff openside really stepped up to the rigours of Test rugby this championship. Athletic, pacy and dogged, Warburton looks to have a long and promising future in the Welsh back row. James Haskell also deserves a mention
8. No. 8 – Sergio Parrisse (Italy) Impossible to ignore. The Italian captain yet again showed why he is considered by many the best No. 8 in the world with a string of consistently outstanding performances. The tears in his eyes after the victory over France showed his passion and commitment in leading his country.
9. Scrum half – Fabio Semenzato (Italy) No particular outstanding scrum halves this year. Ben Youngs would have got the nod if it wasn’t for his ridiculous sin-binning against Ireland. But Semenzato has quietly impressed for Italy with his sharp service and hard graft, strong similarities with Italian legend Alessandro Troncon.
10. Fly-half – Toby Flood (England) The clear standout performer. Flood was the architect of England’s new expansive style, looking to spread the ball at every opportunity. Consistently deadly goal-kicking as well
11. Wing – Maxine Medard (France) A couple of silky tries early on in the competition was enough for the Toulouse wing who along with the rest of the French back division only looked partly interested. The man with the meat chop sideburns oozed class at times though.
12. Centre – James Hook (Wales) Despite playing in four different positions Hook’s quality shone through every week, a sin-binning and charge down in Paris aside. The big question for Wales however remains where best to deploy his wide array of skills. But on the evidence of this tournament his all round game has matured enough to ensure he should be considered as first choice Fly-half.
13. Centre – Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) The Irish skipper faced some criticism for his own and his side’s performances earlier in the competition. However his place in this team just cannot be denied as his three tries this Six nations made him the Championships record try scorer. An inspirational talisman for Ireland and simply a legend of the game.
14. Wing – Chris Ashton (England) Top try scorer and favourite for player of the tournament, the Northampton Saint has been at times mesmerising. England’s most potent weapon gives his team the killer instinct it has lacked so badly in the past.
15. Full back – Ben Foden (England) Andrea Masi deserves a special mention for his outstanding attacking but Foden just edges him for a consistently good and solid tournament. Foden’s flair and talent has never been in question but his defence and temperament has. His assured displays this year has answered his critics and he also popped up with a match-winning try against France
Anyone cruelly overlooked? Think you have a better side? Let us know in the comment section below.