Six Nations Form XV: Standout players revealed

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15 Thomas Ramos (France)

He almost never misses off the tee and, though he played at No 10 in France’s last two matches, Thomas Ramos rarely makes a mistake, making him safe as houses. Was the top scorer, with 63, in the tournament, and is still the toast of France after kicking the 50m match-winner in Lyon to edge England.

14 Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)

He’s a left wing but we had to find room for him on the other side as he is just so potent when given half a metre. His hat-trick in the Calcutta Cup triumph was something else, and two of those scores were scorchers. He finished with five tries, equal top of the Six Nations.

13 Juan-Ignacio Brex (Italy)

It’s a measure of how far Italy has come with its attacking rugby that an outside back from the Azzurri has made this list. Brex was strong with and without the ball, garnering man of the match displays in the wins over Scotland and Wales.

Honourable mentions to Huw Jones of Scotland, Henry Slade of England and Gael Fickou of France, the latter still a defensive rock.

12 Bundee Aki (Ireland)

Aki edges out Ollie Lawrence of England, who showed his power for the men in white.

The former Steeler is now possibly the best No 12 in the world and put up good numbers in his four outings, always going forward and never shirking his defensive duties.

11 James Lowe (Ireland)

It’s hard to keep this man quiet. He scored four tries, carried for a tournament high 478m, made eight offloads and seven line breaks. Did we mention his massive left boot, in the Zarn Sullivan mould? Monty Ioane of Italy (and formerly Bay of Plenty) also had a very good Six Nations.

10 Finn Russell (Scotland)

Scotland’s backline general was mostly imperious, occasionally brilliant, and certainly metronomic off the tee. He kicked a staggering 20 goals from 21, only missing in the final match. But he was again the fulcrum around which the Scots based their attack, his skills shining through.

Jack Crowley slipped into Johnny Sexton’s boots for Ireland and acquitted himself well.

9 Jamison Gibson-Park (Ireland)

The absence of Antoine Dupont was always going to open up this position and the Kiwi-born Irish halfback seized the day. His sharpness was evident from the get-go and he delivered a man of the match display in the must-win final game against Scotland.

8 Ben Earl (England)

The England No 8 played like a ball of muscle and dynamism to be his team’s best player by some distance. If he wasn’t winning lineout ball, he was effecting turnovers, running with venom or just being the best player on the field in the wins over Wales and Ireland.

7 Tommy Reffell (Wales)

They call him Tommy ‘Turnover’ Reffell and his efforts in a beaten Wales side are worthy of the highest commendation. In the best traditions of Martyn Williams and Sam Warburton, Wales has found another top-class fetcher. His eight breakdown steals were twice the next man. Honourable mention to Italy’s tackling machine Michele Lamaro.

6 Andy Christie (Scotland)

Scotland might be onto something here with this man of perpetual motion. He has a huge work-rate and is adept at winning ball at the breakdown. He was Scotland’s best in the narrow defeat to Ireland. Ollie Chessum of England is worthy of a mention for his lineout ability.

5 Maro Itoje (England)

There were those who were questioning Itoje’s impact, but he showed his mettle and class throughout most of the Six Nations, notably in the final two matches, helping haul his team up to third place. He made 17 lineout takes during the tournament, plus two breakdown steals and a lineout steal.

4 Joe McCarthy (Ireland)

The unheralded McCarthy responded to the pressure from the opener against France when he was man of the match in Marseille, a place which has spat out more seasoned customers. Thereafter he and Tadgh Beirne struck up a solid second-row partnership and McCarthy kept his standards high.

3 Uini Atonio (France)

One of Wesley College’s finest rugby products, Atonio again proved he was the best scrummager in the Six Nations, and was mostly immovable.

2 Dan Sheehan (Ireland)

As he was in 2023, Dan Sheehan was the best hooker in the Six Nations, not just because of his tournament equalling-high five tries, but due to his allround game and lineout throwing.

1 Ellis Genge (England)

The England loosehead did it the hard way, working his way back into the squad from injury but, by the France game, where he was outstanding, he was the top No 1 on show, edging out Andrew Porter of Ireland.


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Campbell Burnes

Campbell Burnes has written on rugby since 2000 for a wide variety of publications, both in print and online, whilst also contributing to television and radio shows. His major gigs have seen him at Rugby News magazine (2005-12), in which he covered 50 Test matches, and the New Zealand Herald (2014-17). Burnes is one of the few in rugby media to have played international rugby, having appeared for Manu Samoa in 1995 and 2000 (seven games) as a No 10. He is now the editor of Rugby News magazine and co-editor of the Rugby Almanack.


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