2021 Six Nations Team Of The Competition

2021 Six Nations Team Of The Competition

Wales are Six Nations Champions! An incredible tournament has come to an end with Wayne Pivac's men ending on top of the table with France coming agonisingly close to the title. Ireland finish third while England and Italy complete the standings.

After a thrilling tournament, we select our team of the competition with a number of tough choices in each position.

1. Wyn Jones - Wales
A straight shoot out between two outstanding players whose stock grew tremendously throughout the competition. France's Cyril Baille made a late push for a place in the team with a stellar performance against Scotland but our pick goes to the stellar Welsh loosehead Wyn Jones.
Jones played an incredible 341 minutes during the Six Nations resulting in an average of 68 minutes a game. 
His tireless work rate saw him average almost 8 carries a game and 9 tackles. Wales entertained with the ball in hand thanks to platform their forwards provided with Jones not only producing at scrum time but also in the loose. No other loosehead prop hit more rucks than the Welshman while he was particularly effective at ruck time on defence. 

2. Julien Marchand - France
If our decision was based entirely on the hooker's effectiveness at the set pieces then England's Luke Cowan-Dickie would be a shoo-in for the #2 jersey but the Exeter rake is unlucky to miss out nonetheless. 
Our pick boiled down to two standouts who shone throughout the competition. Les Bleus' Julien Marchand produced a number of Malcolm Marx-esque performances throughout the tournament with some brilliant work at the breakdown turnover ball while shining with ball in hand and defensively. His lineout darts did come under the spotlight at times, particularly against Ireland, but he recovered quickly in that department. 
Ken Owens returned to the Welsh starting line up and almost immediately rectified the lineout issues that Wales had during the Autumn Nations Cup. 'The Sheriff' scored a brace during the tournament while he was just as effective as every around the park and in his current form, may well be the starting hooker for the Lions in June.
An incredible close call but the Frenchman's performance in the final game against Scotland earned him a place in the side.
3. Tadhg Furlong - Ireland

Having kept his head throughout the tournament, France's Mohamed Haouas enjoyed a fine campaign for Les Bleus while Zander Fagerson was excellent before his sending off against Wales. Andrew Porter was superb for Ireland but it's the man who usurped him from the starting line up who features in our team of the competition. 
Furlong came off the bench for Ireland's first two games of the competition but by the third, he was fit and firing having impressed on his return from injury. The Irishman was brilliant in all facets of the game and hardly showed in rustiness producing trademark performance with burling carries, big hits and superb work in the set pieces.
4. Tadhg Beirne - Ireland
What a tournament Tadhg Beirne had! Whether he featured on the side of the scrum or in the second row, the Munsterman was one of Ireland's best picking up two man of the match awards. 
Beirne was the busiest Irish player in the rucks throughout the competition hitting 153 rucks throughout the competition and was particularly busy on attack, hitting 112 offensive rucks. 
Maro Itoje still managed to put in a solid campaign despite the odd below-par performance for England while James Ryan impressed when fit for Ireland. France's Bernard Le Roux is also unlucky to miss out as too is Wales' Adam Beard. 
5. Alun Wyn Jones - Wales
The most capped test player of all time, Jones continues to not only perform at the highest level but thrive there. He led is country with distinction and was cruelly denied yet another Grand Slam. Jones was consistent throughout all five games for Wales. There weren't any magical offloads this campaign but he did all the hard graft superbly, running Wales' lineout superbly while adding his weight on defence and attack. Another Lions tour looks to be a certainty for the Welsh captain. Jones was once again one of the competition's top tacklers with 72 - finishing inside the top 10 - and beats the likes of James Ryan, Paul Willemse and Iain Henderson with the latter being one of the unluckiest contenders to miss out. 
6. Josh Navidi - Wales
Simply outstanding throughout the competition. Josh Navidi may well have booked his place in the British and Irish Lions squad after a stellar campaign. He came off the bench earlier in Wales' opening game of the competition to make 22 tackles and didn't look back. He was one of Wales' best on the pitch in every game and named the match of the match against Italy. A titan at the breakdown, excellent with ball in hand and a rock defensively. 
Scotland's Jamie Ritchie was arguably the closest to taking the jersey off of Navidi while Tadgh Beirne was also a contender for the role having starred in the second and back row for Ireland. Italy's Sebastien Negri was one, if not the, standout for the wooden spoon winners. 

7. Charles Ollivon - France
Brilliant right up to the end. Charles Ollivon did enough to edge out the competition from Wales in Justin Tipurice, Scotland's Hamish Watson and England's Tom Curry. 

Yet again it was another incredibly difficult call to make with all the players mentioned starring in all facets of the game. Ollvion's excellence in the lineout, leadership and dealings with the referees gave him the marginal advantage over the others.
This one really could have gone to any of the four players mentioned.  

8. Taulupe Faletau - Wales
Faletau was back to his best in the 2021 Six Nations where he was part of a formidable Welsh back row that led Wayne Pivac's side to another title. The 30-year-old featured in the top five for both tackles and carries in the competition while he also gained 184 metres with ball in hand. Faletau's form has placed him well in the mix for the British and Irish Lions tour once again. Ireland's CJ Stander was also consistently strong in his final Six Nations campaign before retirement. England's Billy Vunipola had his up and downs throughout the competition while Scotland's Matt Fagerson incredibly busy around the park before he was ruled out of the final game. 
Finally, France's Gregory Alldritt is arguably the unluckiest player to miss out as he once again proved that he is of world-class quality on either side of the ball. 

9. Antoine Dupont - France
Antoine Dupont got France off to a flyer in the opening game of the Six Nations assisting four tries against Italy, equalling a tournament record set by Freddie Michalak. The 24-year-old halfback went on to enjoy stellar performance against Ireland, England and Wales with the final game against Scotland seeing slip off of his incredibly high standard. 
The nippy scrumhalf was the standout in the competition with Wales chopping and changing their no.9s, Ben Youngs experiencing highs and lows and Ali Price falling just short. There were some promising performances from Stephen Varney while Ireland also switched between Gibson-Park and Murray with both players having standout moments.

10. Matthieu Jalibert - France
A somewhat odd tournament for flyhalves with none of the contenders playing the full possible 400 minutes. George Ford and Owen Farrell were both entrusted with the jumper for England, Dan Biggar and Callum Sheedy shared the playmaking duties throughout the competition with the latter coming on in the closing stages for Wales. Italy's Paolo Garbisi was also in the running as he dictated long periods of attack for Italy with little reward. Finn Russell had his moments for Scotland but was also found wanting in others. 
The two standout contenders for our team of the competition were Wales' Dan Biggar and France's Matthieu Jalibert. Both players were accurate from the tee and displayed excellent game management to guide their team's to victory. Jalibert gets the edge over Dan Biggar down to the manner in which he helped France to victories in the opening two games before falling short to England and ending his tournament with an injury against Wales. 
Jalibert showed exactly why there is so much hype around him in France and filled in outstandingly for Romain Ntamack. 

11. Duhan van der Merwe  -Scotland
Josh Adams, Teddy Thomas and Monty Ioane were all in the running for a spot on the wing in our team of the tournament but our pick goes to van der Merwe, who enjoyed a fine debut tournament. 
His two tries against France helped Scotland to their first win in Paris since 1999 with his second score seeing him end as the competition's top try scorer. 
The imposing figure out wide also beat 12 defenders more than any other player in the competition and was only beaten by Brice Dulin for metres gained. 
A newbie to the test arena, van der Merwe's form will have certainly caught the eye of Warren Gatland who does like a big physical winger. 
12. Gael Fickou - France
Heading into the final game of the competition, the inside centre role was a two-horse race between Ireland's Robbie Henshaw and France's Gael Fickou. Both players were in excellent form throughout the competition but Fickou ultimately edged Henshaw by the finest of margins. 
The Frenchman kept his side's hopes of winning the title alive as he set up the match-winning try against England with a lovely fix and pass.

France's defence was crucial to their bid for the title and Fickou led their defensive effort outstandingly. He missed just one tackle the entire tournament and managed to score a try and assist another. The glue that keeps the French backline together, Fickou is currently one of the finest midfielders in the game. 

13. George North - Wales
Some may see this as a surprising decision but no other outside centre was quite as consistent as Wales' George North who looks to have adjusted well to the position. Virimi Vakatawa returned from injury in good form for France while Chris Harris had solid campaign cumulating in a stellar performance in the final game. Henry Slade shone for England at times while Garry Ringrose had a strong tournament for Ireland.
North was sharp defensively and ran some tricky lines on attack which saw him dot down twice for Wales. His footwork was still key to his game as he averaged 2.8 defenders beaten per game. 
14. Louis Rees-Zammit - Wales
One of the players of the tournament, it's hard to believe that Rees-Zammit is still just 20-years-old. The speedster scored four tries in his five games, assisted another two and managed to make 9 clean breaks. His outstanding form sees him edge the excellent Anthony Watson for a place in the side with both players likely to battle it out for a place on the wing for the Lions in June. Damian Penaud was also excellent for France, particularly in the game of the 2021 edition, as too was Ireland's evergreen Keith Earls. 
15. Stuart Hogg - Scotland
This decision came right down to the final game of the competition.
Brice Dulin and Stuart Hogg were marginally ahead of Liam Williams for the final place in our side but in the end the Scottish captain took the #15 jersey. 
The Scotsman was solid in the air and filled in well at flyhalf when needed for Scotland. 

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