Six Nations: Official 2023 Team of the Tournament
The votes have been rounded up and the coveted spots in the XV have now been revealed, with seven of the pack belonging to this year’s champions.
A further three are part of a backline which also includes Player of the Championship Antoine Dupont and Scotland’s dynamic midfield pairing Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones.
Let’s take a closer look at this year’s Team of the Championship…
1 Andrew Porter (Ireland)
An ever-present in Ireland’s starting XVs through all five rounds, Porter’s solid scrummaging helped lay the foundations for his side’s success.
He also popped up with a vital try in the decisive win over France in Round 2.
2 Dan Sheehan (Ireland)
The star of Super Saturday, Sheehan’s double proved crucial in Dublin as Ireland defeated England to seal the Grand Slam.
He missed the Round 2 win over France but was straight back into the groove thereafter during a Championship which saw him cement his place as Ireland’s first-choice hooker.
3 Finlay Bealham (Ireland)
Ireland’s strength in depth is one of the key factors which set them apart this year and Bealham was a prime example.
There were fears in some quarters about how Ireland would cope without Tadhg Furlong but Bealham quickly allayed those with three consecutive assured displays alongside Sheehan and his fellow heavy metal fan Porter.
4 Thibaud Flament (France)
Flament needed just five minutes to open his account for the competition, crossing for France’s first try in the Round 1 win over Italy, and later delivered a performance for the ages against England at Twickenham.
Two tries and a dazzling all-round display saw Flament named Player of the Round while he made 81 tackles across the Championship – only Matt Fagerson (83) made more.
5 James Ryan (Ireland)
Ryan led by example during Ireland’s campaign to remember.
The lock crossed against Wales and Italy, made five turnovers – a joint-high across the Championship – and crunched into 66 tackles, while he also took over the captaincy when Johnny Sexton was absent in Rome.
6 Peter O’Mahony (Ireland)
Sometimes there is no substitute for experience and Peter O’Mahony continued to prove his worth for Ireland during the 2023 Championship.
O’Mahony carried out all the unflashy, unnoticed work resolutely and was excellent in the win over Scotland at BT Murrayfield.
7 Josh van der Flier (Ireland)
The flanker came into the Championship as World Rugby’s Player of the Year but showed no sign of that status weighing him down.
He hit his usual high standards at the breakdown and in contact – no Irish player made more tackles than his 67 – and even showed his versatility by filling in throwing into the lineout against Scotland due to injuries elsewhere in the pack.
8 Caelan Doris (Ireland)
A player who could succeed Van der Flier when World Rugby’s 2023 awards come around, Doris’ ascent shows no sign of stopping.
The talismanic No.8 set the tone for Ireland’s Championship with a try just two minutes into the opener against Wales and won the Player of the Match award following a superb display in the win over France in Round 2.
9 Antoine Dupont (France)
Player of the Championship for the third time in four years, there is not much to say about Dupont that has not been said already.
A walking highlights reel, the scrum-half was at the heart of some of this year’s most memorable moments – whether it was his tackle on Mack Hansen in Dublin, pass to Damian Penaud for his try against Wales or just about any part of his masterclass against England at Twickenham.
10 Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
If any player deserved a successful swansong in this competition, it has to be the Championship’s all-time leading scorer.
Sexton reached that landmark in the Round 5 win over England but there is far more than sentiment keeping him in the green No.10 jersey – he continues to operate at a world-class level and made Ireland’s backline tick throughout the Championship.
11 James Lowe (Ireland)
One-third of Ireland’s deadly back three, Lowe made headlines with a remarkable acrobatic finish which proved key to the win over France in Round 2.
He crossed three times in all and made 533 metres with ball in hand – only Hugo Keenan (more on him later) carried further.
12 Sione Tuipulotu (Scotland)
Tuipulotu had a taste of the Guinness Six Nations last year but this was the campaign in which he made the No.12 shirt his own.
He proved a perfect foil for Finn Russell and linked up brilliantly with Glasgow clubmate Huw Jones, offering Scotland a point of difference to their attack and helping Gregor Townsend’s side improve their cutting edge.
13 Huw Jones (Scotland)
Another key part of Scotland’s ruthless attack, Jones crossed four times – including going over for the opener in the win at Twickenham in Round 1.
Solid defensively and always capable of finding an incisive line in attack, the re-introduction of Jones to the fray proved a shrewd move by Townsend.
14 Damian Penaud (France)
The leading try-scorer in the 2023 Championship was on hand to finish off five of France’s 21 tries.
There were some stunners in there, too, with Penaud making up half of the six nominations for Try of the Championship – efforts against Ireland, England and Wales all included.
15 Hugo Keenan (Ireland)
Keenan had been an unsung hero for Ireland but not any more.
He made himself a main character in this year’s Championship through his rock-solid defence, composure under the high ball and strong kicking game – also on hand to score vital tries against France and Italy.