Friday 19 July 2019

All 30 of Ireland's Grand Slam contributors rated - but one man comes out on top

Out-half leads way in tournament rating of all 30 players who played in historic clean sweep

Johnny Sexton holds the Triple Crown trophy after victory against England. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Johnny Sexton holds the Triple Crown trophy after victory against England. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

When he gets around to it, this will be the most enjoyable post-tournament review Joe Schmidt will have carried out in his five seasons as Ireland coach.

Like all of his team's matches, he'll forensically pick apart all five games to see where his team can improve when they travel to Australia next summer and despite their brilliant success there will be plenty for him to work with as he methodically builds towards Japan.

The performance levels were high throughout the Grand Slam campaign, it wouldn't have been won otherwise, but Schmidt will be particularly pleased with the emergence of a whole new generation of players stepped up and performed.

His senior men delivered too, setting an example for the young guns who thrived on the biggest stage to set up a Grand Slam win in Twickenham on Saturday.

Every player will be given feedback on their contribution, but while there will always be room to improve they have all played a role in a historic success.

Johnny Sexton 9 (out of 10)

He'll always have Paris, but the out-half was superb throughout this tournament - leading by example through his actions, often putting his body on the line and playing hurt for the last three games. His kicking went awry at times, but that can't diminish his contribution in regular play. Superb.

Conor Murray 9

The other half of the greatest double-act in Irish rugby history, the scrum-half's contribution was equally impressive as he combined excellent decision-making with pinpoint accuracy from first to last. Chipped in a few kicks and even went up in the odd lineout for good measure.

Jacob Stockdale 9

Seven tries in five games is a phenomenal return for a player who has constantly been criticised for his lack of defensive prowess but keeps scoring regardless. Remains a work in progress, which makes his achievement all the more amazing.

Tadhg Furlong 9

Good in Paris, injured against Italy and Wales but back with a bang against Scotland and on another planet against England. The best tighthead in the game.

Cian Healy 9

Back to his very best, the loosehead will relish this victory given what he went through to play a part. A dominant force.

Dan Leavy 9

From the moment he replaced Josh van der Flier he was excellent, adding menace to Ireland's breakdown work and carrying the game to his opponents. Might have won man of the match in Twickenham.

Rob Kearney 9

Surely he's silenced the doubters now. Ireland's most decorated player was consistently excellent in this campaign as he collected a second Slam.

Keith Earls 9

After missing the 2014 and 2015 titles, this was especially sweet. His catch in Paris was pivotal, his tackle against Italy showed the others what was expected.

Peter O'Mahony 8

One of the key drivers behind the scenes, his work-ethic never dropped and his set-piece play and breakdown contribution was excellent.

Bundee Aki 8

A force of nature in Ireland's midfield, growing with every game despite changing partner on a weekly basis.

CJ Stander 8

Dipped slightly at the start, but only below his own high standard and he finished like a train with a dominant performance in Twickenham.

James Ryan 8

The beginning of a potentially great career for a player who has achieved so much, so soon and wants more. Undaunted by the step up, he was excellent each week.

Iain Henderson 8

Might have even finished higher up the ratings had injury not halted his march, but his displays at the start and the finish of the campaign were superb and his contribution to Sexton's drop-goal shouldn't be forgotten.

Robbie Henshaw 8

Was on course for a superb tournament until he damaged his shoulder scoring his second try against Italy.

Garry Ringrose 8

Fate handed him an opportunity to play a part and he grabbed it with both hands. Superb against Scotland and effective against England.

Chris Farrell 8

Only played 80 minutes before injury cruelly robbed him of his moment, but he did pick up the man of the match award against Wales and deserved it.

Andrew Porter 8

Despite his inexperience, he stepped in against Italy and Wales and thrived. And also came off the bench to good effect in the final two games.

Devin Toner 7

Won't be happy that his influence is waning, but still contributed when asked. Don't write him off just yet.

Rory Best 7

Saved his best performances until last. The captain wasn't massively effective in the first four games, but he was highly influential at Twickenham.

Jack McGrath 7

Made up ground after missing out to Dave Kilcoyne in November, but firmly back in second place behind Cian Healy. Still made his mark.

Seán Cronin 7

Another who fought back in and can be proud of his contribution. Arguably could have started, but Schmidt wasn't going to drop his captain.

Jordi Murphy 7

Had to bide his time, but when his chance came he took it with a big performance off the bench against Scotland and was on the pitch at the end at Twickenham.

Joey Carbery 6

Played precious little rugby beforehand and looked a little rusty against Italy and Scotland but he managed the game brilliantly at Twickenham when asked.

Jordan Larmour 6

Already in bonus territory after winning his first cap against Italy, but got a good run at Twickenham and didn't look out of his depth.

Kieran Marmion 5

Another strong stint on the wing, but the Connacht No 9 will be frustrated that he didn't get much action in his position of choice.

John Ryan 5

Came off the bench against France and was out of favour from then on after a poor scrum almost cost Ireland dear.

Quinn Roux 5

Came off the bench against Italy and Wales but firmly fourth choice.

Jack Conan 5

Frustrating as a defensive misread cost him dear as he missed out on the finale after impressing against Italy and coming off the bench against Wales.

Josh van der Flier 5

Heartbreakingly injured after a good start against France.

Fergus McFadden 5

Brought on to the bench for his solidity for the Wales but it didn't go his way and he watched from the stands in Twickenham.

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