ESPN’s Team of the Six Nations: Did any England players make the cut?


It was a green sweep for Ireland as they claimed their fourth Six Nations Grand Slam in championship history. A remarkable feat from Andy Farrell’s men as they proved why they are the No. 1 side in the world.

The end of the Six Nations means it is time to pick out a team of the tournament. There have been standout performances aplenty, but here is ESPN’s attempt at picking the best XV from this year’s tournament. And yes, we’ve probably got it wrong.

ESPN’s Six Nations Team of the Tournament:

15. Hugo Keenan (Ireland)

We’ve had some superb performances at fullback this tournament. How Italy must’ve lamented the absence of their box-office Ange Capuozzo after he was injured in round 3, while Freddie Steward showed glimpses of brilliance until he was caught at the sharp elbow of the law.

But this is a straight flip of a coin between Ireland’s Hugo Keenan and France’s Thomas Ramos. Ramos was the tournament’s top points scorer with 89 and was pinpoint from the tee. But Keenan shades this. He’s the world’s best fullback and had a brilliant tournament for Ireland, making the most metres out of any player in the championship with 564m.

14. Mack Hansen (Ireland)

The diminutive Irish winger was lethal on the right for the Slam champs and proved why he is one of the world’s best at finishing, while he punches above his weight in defence. He finished the tournament with three tries — including that incredible finish in the corner against Scotland.

13. Gael Fickou (France)

This was tough in what has been a brilliantly competitive position. Garry Ringrose had a great tournament for Ireland but this is between two different No.13s — Scotland’s Huw Jones and France’s Gael Fickou.

Scotland now have a central core to their team with that partnership of Jones and Sione Tuipulotu, but it’s Fickou who gets the nod. He was brilliant in attack, but also came third overall for tackles made — chipping in with 67 over the course of his five matches.

12. Sione Tuipulotu (Scotland)

A notable mention here for France’s Jonathan Danty who played their final two matches of the tournament and created some wonderful havoc, but Scotland’s Sione Tuipulotu gets the edge here.

He has everything: the ability to break the line, kicking off both feet, a solid defensive game and wonderful sleight of hand. He’s an outstanding 12.

11. Damien Penaud (France)

Duhan van der Merwe was brilliant for Scotland, but given Damien Penaud finished as the tournament’s top try scorer on five, we have to find him a spot in the team. His positioning is exceptional.

10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)

Finn Russell was the most thrilling fly-half to watch this tournament, but this was Sexton’s championship. He finished the England match on one leg but was granted one incredible ovation from the Dublin faithful as he limped off in the 73rd minute. He may be 37 years old, but his mind is quicker than ever and how he’ll want to bow out of his Ireland career with the sport’s biggest prize in October.

9. Antoine Dupont (France)

Antoine Dupont does things no other player in the world can do. He’s simply brilliant and it’s getting to the point where paying to watch France is worth it just to see Dupont alone.

1. Pierre Schoeman (Scotland)

Honourable mention for Cyrille Baille, Andrew Porter and Danilo Fischetti, but Scotland’s Pierre Schoeman had an outstanding tournament. But he is far more than just a scrummaging prop, making the second most carries out of any player in the Six Nations with 60 alongside Wales’ Taulupe Faletau.

2. Dan Sheehan (Ireland)

If there was a Lions tour tomorrow, Sheehan would be starting at hooker. He was named Player of the Match against England and is the standout No. 2 in this part of the world.

3. Finlay Bealham (Ireland)

Ireland lost their world-class tight-head Tadhg Furlong on the eve of their opener against Wales, but given Bealham’s performances, you wouldn’t have known they had suffered such a setback. He was exceptional in the three of the five matches he started. A notable mention for Italy’s Marco Riccioni who is a key cornerstone of their firm foundations up front.

4. James Ryan (Ireland)

What a player, what a tournament. He’s probably the standout second-row in Test rugby at the moment (though France and Eben Etzebeth will have something to say about that) but he was their rock. He finished fourth overall on 66 tackles and also made the most turnovers (five) alongside Jamie Ritchie and Caelon Doris.

5. Thibaud Flament (France)

Alongside Ryan, Thibaud Flament was the outstanding second-row in the tournament. He was second for tackles made with 81 (behind Matt Fagerson on 83) and put in one of the best performances you’ll see from a lock in France’s historic win at Twickenham in round four. There are shades of Brodie Retallick about him — not bad for someone who used to be a fly-half at Loughborough University, and has only been playing professional rugby for four years.

6. Charles Ollivon (France)

Though he’s an openside, we had to shoe-horn him in. His teammate Francois Cros was exceptional, as was Caelan Doris for Ireland (he’s the Lions blindside for 2025). But Charles Ollivon has to feature in this team. The previous captain of France is still the heartbeat of the team and an exceptional back-rower.

7. Josh van der Flier (Ireland)

The world’s best player had another brilliant tournament, and even ended up subbing in as lineout thrower against Scotland in round four. He said before the England match that he feels like a marked man now with that World Rugby award to his name, but he’s showing no signs of it hampering his performances.

8. Lorenzo Cannone (Italy)

Any other tournament, this would be a shootout between France’s Gregory Alldritt, the ever-versatile Doris and Scotland’s Fagerson or Jack Dempsey. But Cannone enjoyed a breakout tournament at the back of Italy’s scrum and is one of the many reasons to be excited about this Azzurri side.

Head coach: Andy Farrell (Ireland)

Easy choice. Farrell has steered Ireland to the No. 1 side in the world and he’s the man to steer this group of players to their maiden World Cup title come October.

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