The 2013 Six Nations came to an end at the weekend with Wales once again being crowned the champions. Their final game against England was a winner takes all affair and it was Rob Howley’s men who came away with the victory. Not many would have guessed that Scotland and Italy would finish 3rd and 4th respectively with Ireland and France sitting at the bottom of the final standings. This year the home nations had something extra to play for with the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia coming up this summer.
Throughout the competition we were identifying players who were playing well and had to constantly changed the look of our Six Nations XV in order to fit them all in. After Saturdays final round of game, this is how our side has panned out.
The Ireland prop got off lightly after his moment of madness against England and this allowed him to show why he is rated so highly in the northern hemisphere. He carried the ball more than any other prop and was solid at scrumtime.
Some may not have know much about Hibbard before the tournament began, however his performances for Wales in the Six Nations made him one of their standout players. He made a huge impact in the scrums and loose play.
The cornerstone of the welsh scrum showed why he is favourite for the number three shirt for the British & Irish Lions shirt this summer. He gave Joe Marler a torrid time at the Millennium Stadium and helped to win a number of penalties for his team.
The young England lock has taken to test rugby like a duck to water and has made the number four shirt his own. He did everything asked of him around the park and at the set piece. His partnership with Geoff Parling looks to have a healthy future.
Paul O’Connells boots were also going to be hard to fill but Ryan put in a string of towering performances in the number five shirt. This showed the coaches and fans that they need not worry when O’Connell calls time on his career.
For years the Italian players have had to live in the shadow of Sergio Parisse but Zanni outshone his team mate throughout the campaign. For those who like stats, Zanni made 50 carries, 36 tackles and took the ball at the lineout 19 times.
Robshaw gets the nod at openside flanker after picking up two man of the matches awards early in the competition. Their was fierce competition from Wales’s Warburton and Tipuric as well as Ireland’s O’Brien but the England captain just edged it.
70 carries, 351 metres made, 15 players beaten and two tries all to his name made this decision for us. Although Faletau and Parisse were both impressive, it was impossible to ignore the Frenchman.
It is easy to argue that if Laidlaw wasn’t in the Scotland side then their third place finished would not have happened. He managed his forwards around the park well which gave the back a great attacking platform. An 88% success rate off the kicking tee also helped.
It looks like England have finally found their replacement for Jonny Wilkinson as the young fly half showed that he has what it takes on the international stage. Mentions also have to go to Dan Biggar and Luciano Orquera.
What were the French coaches thinking when they put Fofana on the wing for their opening two matches. He showed against England and Scotland the attacking abilities that he possesses with two well taken tries.
It was hard to choose a standout performer in the outside centre berth although Tuilagi just nicks it after bringing a spark to the England backline. It looks like it could be a big summer for the Leicester man down in Australia.
Maitland may have worn the number 14 shirt but the way he slotted into the Scotland side during the tournament was hard to ignore. The skills and experience that he gained in the southern hemisphere were clear to see.
We felt the competitions top try scorer had to feature after showing the other five teams, and Australia, his finishing abilities. The line that he ran against Italy to score was one of our highlights of the competition.
The Wales fullback was our ‘Player of the Tournament’ after putting in five solid displays for his country. He finished with a total of 74 points and an 81% goal-kick success rate. A definite for the British & Irish Lions.
Who would you have selected in your 2013 Six Nations XV?