6 Nations Round 3 Team of the Week

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Ireland and England’s youngsters impressed, while Scotland finally found the form they have been looking for. Wales made a big statement against France, who will join Italy and Ireland in contemplating what could have been. All in all, it was a great weekend of 6 Nations rugby, and here is RBP’s team of the weekend.

1. Rob Evans:
The Welsh loosehead prop was prominent throughout the match, making 8 tackles and constantly offering himself as a ball carrier. While he may have been too quick to run without support on one occasion, for the most part he gave Wales a great edge with ball in hand and was always looking to offload.

2. Guilhem Guirado:
Guy Noves’ new captain has been on fire in this year’s tournament, and he carried that good form into France’s hard loss to Wales. His workrate was phenomenal, as he carried 16 times, made 8 tackles, and hit rucks all over the field. Guirado is a great player and a great leader for France, and if they are to win the 6 Nations this year, it will largely be down to his great work in open play.
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3. Dan Cole:
England are at their best when their scrum is clicking well, and this season, Cole has been able to ensure that their scrum is always clicking well. Jack McGrath could get nothing out of the England stalwart, and Cole was able to put himself about in open play well, making 9 tackles on top of his excellent set-piece work.

4. Jonny Gray:
The Glasgow and Scotland lock was everywhere against Italy, with his never ending workrate providing a massive lift for his side. Gray made 22 tackles and carried the ball 9 times as his side claimed their first win of the tournament. His consistent excellence for Scotland has made him a frontrunner to stake a spot for the 2017 Lions tour to New Zealand. A mention must go to Ireland’s Donnacha Ryan, who made an immense 18 tackles in 65 minutes.

5. Maro Itoje:
Speaking of young second rows, England lock Maro Itoje made a sensational first start for his country against Ireland, showing the work rate and physicality that have made him a hero at Saracens. His 16 tackles were the most of any England player, and he showed a great willingness to carry the ball as well. Many have tipped Itoje as a future England captain, and if he continues to grow we would not rule that out.

6. Sam Warburton:
The Wales captain sent a physical message throughout the match, and although he was at 7, we’ve put him at 6 to make room for the next person on the list. Warburton’s physical ball carrying and tackling kept Wales on the front foot, while his excellent work at the breakdown allowed Wales to play the game at pace, just as they wanted. France were totally unable to compete with the inspired Welsh pack, and Warburton had everything to do with that.

7. John Hardie:
Hardie was sensation at the World Cup, and he was excellent for Scotland against Italy. Hardie’s workrate is exceptional, and his willingness to do the hard work is a great asset for Vern Cotter’s side. Hardie made 18 tackles on Saturday, the second most of any Scottish player, behind the superhuman work of Jonny Gray. Hardie also showed great strength and awareness to burst through a tackle and crash over in the corner for his try. Big mention for Josh Van Der Flier, who was everywhere on his debut, making 15 tackles and coming very close to scoring a great try.

8. Billy Vunipola:
Vunipola’s play has bordered upon player of the tournament material, and he performed once again against Ireland. Vunipola made 94 meters with ball in hand, and beat 9 defenders. Those are numbers that most wings would be envious of on a good day, and Vunipola, as a behemoth No.8 did that against a very good Ireland side. As if that wasn’t enough, Vunipola also made 8 tackles, rounding out an excellent day, and pushing England towards a dominant performance over Ireland.

9. Gareth Davies:
After Rhys Webb suffered that horrific knee injury in June, many thought Wales would struggle mightily to find a player anywhere near his calibre at 9. However, Davies quickly showed otherwise, with a run of great form that has continued through the World Cup and all the way to now. Davies was able to run the game at lightning pace, and found gaps throughout the French defense, beating 6 defenders and running for 59 meters over the course of the match. Davies is another play who has done well enough to make a case for Lions inclusion.

10. Dan Biggar:
There will be calls for Jonny Sexton to get the 10 spot, but to my mind his renewed form was not enough to dislodge Biggar. The Ospreys 10 had an excellent all around game, marshalling his backline extremely well, and using width to put his players into space. He may have been a bit too quick to kick the ball on a few occasions, but for the most part he ensured Wales were always threatening in attack, even making 66 meters himself.

11. Jack Nowell:
Nowell’s neverending search for work has been one of his best attributes for England over the last two years, and this was reflected in his try saving tackle on Robbie Henshaw. That tackle proved vital as it halted any momentum Ireland were building, and kept England well out of reach. Nowell also racked up 54 meters in attack and left 3 defenders in his wake.

12. Jamie Roberts:
While Stuart McCloskey looked very good for Ireland on his debut, Jamie Roberts has been one of the tournaments best all year, and Friday night was no different. Roberts totally outplayed his opposite number Jonathan Danty, and created plenty of space for the likes of Jonathan Davies and George North. While attacking play was at a premium, Roberts was stoic in defence, giving Wales a major edge.

13. Robbie Henshaw:
We don’t think there should be any more questions as to where Robbie Henshaw should play after his scintillating performance against England. Granted it was a losing effort, but its enormity means it cannot be ignored. Henshaw made 108 meters with ball in hand and beat 4 defenders, while in defence he made another 8 tackles. His pairing with McCloskey was solid and we think it’s one that Joe Schmidt would be mad not to stick with for the remainder of the tournament.

14. Anthony Watson:
Watson continues to be England’s best attacking threat. His pace and athleticism make for a difficult matchup for any opposition. This was highlighted on Saturday, as Watson ran rampant for 87 meters, 2 clean breaks, and a try. Watson carried England’s attack for much of the World Cup, and is now thriving under Eddie Jones, whose playing style is allowing him to get more ball in more space.

15. Stuart Hogg:
We had been waiting for Hogg to burst into life since the start of the tournament, but finally, this week, he did. Hogg was dominant against Italy, making defenders miss left and right as he cruised to 99 meters made, 2 clean breaks, and 6 defenders beaten. If Hogg can keep up this form, Scotland will be eager to perhaps take a few scalps in the later stages of the tournament. Hogg is easily Scotland’s best attacking weapon, so his form is vitally important to their success.

Aidan Clarke
Media Intern from America.

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