Five Irish make it into Six Nations Team of the Weekend after Italian rout
Published 14/03/2016 | 09:32
Positivity is back in Irish rugby after Joe Schmidt's men smashed Italy 58-15 to record their first win of the campaign.
There were also strong victories for Scotland and England and the way the results went last weekend means that England are assured their first Six Nations title since 2011. The Telegraph has named their Team of the Weekend and Irish players represent 1/3 of the side after their big win.
15. Stuart Hogg
Hogg's display against France was described by experienced judges as one of the finest by a Scottish full-back in recent memory, and it was not an exaggeration. A try, a wonderful assist and numerous moments of class made a difference
14. Andrew Trimble
The more time goes on the stranger it seems that Trimble was left out of Ireland's World Cup squad. Another fine try and general all-round display against Italy summed up his class.
13. Jared Payne
Joe Schmidt is a big fan of Payne, and it's not hard to see why. Payne is a tenacious defender and, against Italy, was a key man going forward.
12. Owen Farrell
Farrell is out of position, and George Ford is out of form. It makes for a tricky 10-12 combination, but the Saracen is playing - and kicking - like a dream. Seems to have stepped up a gear after the World Cup disappointment.
11. Tim Visser
Visser's try was perhaps the simplest thing he did all day - after all, he could hardly miss after Stuart Hogg's gorgeous flick put him in space. But his was an impressive, aggressive all-round display that fully deserved a try.
10. Johnny Sexton
Sexton enjoyed his 49 minutes against Italy. A few breaks, a nice offload or two and then a seat on the bench to watch the end of a one-sided contest. Nice and simple.
9. Greig Laidlaw
Laidlaw is the beating heart of this Scotland team, a competitive, driven type who is always at the heart of the action. These two victories have meant more to the skipper than most.
1. Jack McGrath
It used to be the case that Ireland would crumble without Cian Healy in the side. Instead, McGrath has come on leaps and bounds to ensure Ireland now have strength-in-depth where they need it most.
2. Guilhem Guirado
Guirado has been at the heart of everything the French have done well in this tournament and he continued that run of form against Scotland, taking his try superbly.
3. WP Nel
Nel is an integral cog in the Scotland machine, and will be pushing hard for a Lions place in 2017. On current form he deserves one.
4. Maro Itoje
Few things seem as natural as Itoje laying waste to world-class opposition at Twickenham. At just 21 it is scary to think what he could achieve.
5. George Kruis
Deserves just as much praise as Itoje, but is going about his business in a slightly less flashy manner - though he is no less effective. Has quietly become indispensable to England.
6. Chris Robshaw
Eddie Jones believes Robshaw is the player of the tournament so far, and while that is an exaggeration he has been highly effective. A reunion with Wales went better than he could have hoped.
7. John Hardie
A seriously good player. Does the gritty, unseen work and another Scot who has embellished their reputation during the tournament.
8. Jamie Heaslip
The fitness of modern-day rugby players is no longer in doubt, but it was still a slight shock to see that it was Heaslip who had kept up with his marauding back division to finish off Ireland's sweeping first-half move. He added a second try in more traditional, close-range fashion later on.
Player of the Weekend - Maro Itoje
He’s good. Seriously good. Upgraded from a Vauxhall Viva to a BMW by Eddie Jones, who likes his analogies, and will be a mainstay of the England side for at least a decade.
Try of the Weekend - Jamie Heaslip
Not just try of the weekend, but surely try of the tournament as Ireland broke from within their own 22, offloading at will before No8 Heaslip arrived to crash over the line.
Hero of the Weekend - Stuart Hogg
A player of rare wit and inventiveness, as evidenced by his stunning overhead flick to set up Tim Visser’s try. No matter how Scotland do he always seems to excel.
Villain of the Weekend - Tomas Francis
Francis is almost certain to be cited and is likely to face a lengthy ban after seeming to make contact with Dan Cole’s eye at Twickenham - a most villainous act.