Saturday 21 July 2018

Eight Irishmen included in best XV of the Six Nations

Ireland players, from left, Devin Toner, Tadhg Furlong, Jacob Stockdale, Cian Healy, Jonathan Sexton, Jordan Larmour and Rory Best celebrate with the Six Nations and Triple Crown trophies after the NatWest Six Nations Rugby Championship match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium in London, England. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Ireland players, from left, Devin Toner, Tadhg Furlong, Jacob Stockdale, Cian Healy, Jonathan Sexton, Jordan Larmour and Rory Best celebrate with the Six Nations and Triple Crown trophies after the NatWest Six Nations Rugby Championship match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium in London, England. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Andrew Baldock

The curtain fell on this season's NatWest 6 Nations Championship with champions Ireland clinching a Grand Slam by beating England at Twickenham.

Here, we select a team of the tournament.

15: MATTEO MINOZZI (Itay) - Italy's bright new full-back scored tries in four successive Six Nations games, proving himself an astute finisher. Also brave and accomplished in defence, especially under the high ball.

14: GEORGE NORTH (Wales) - made his presence felt with two shining displays off the bench against England and Ireland, then scored two tries in a bonus-point victory over Italy. Remains a handful for any defence.

13: GARRY RINGROSE (Ireland) - returned to Ireland's starting XV against Scotland after recovering from an ankle injury, and he looked as though he had never been away. Try scorer in Grand Slam-clinching victory over England.

12: OWEN FARRELL (England) - easily England's best player of a Six Nations campaign that was their worst since 2006. Kicked well and always seemed to have time on the ball. Clever and creative.

11: JACOB STOCKDALE (Ireland) - at the age of just 21, Ulster wing Stockdale set a new Six Nations record of seven tries in one tournament. A star has been born.

10: JOHNNY SEXTON (Ireland) - set Ireland on their way with a stunning match-winning drop-goal against France in Paris, and then never looked back. His creative play was often majestic.

9: CONOR MURRAY (Ireland) - displayed his hallmark consistency across the competition, kicking with pinpoint accuracy and controlling the pace of games in effortless fashion. Best scrum-half in the business.

1: CIAN HEALY (Ireland) - an imposing presence in Ireland's scrum, the seasoned campaigner performed his set-piece work superbly, and also did not miss a tackle in the competition.

2: GUILHEM GUIRADO (France) - terrific work rate and a natural leader, the France captain was in inspired form, especially during Les Bleus' victory over England.

3: TADHG FURLONG (Ireland) - continued from last summer's British and Irish Lions tour in terms of his all-round excellence. Powerful scrummager with a carrying and tackling work-rate to match.

4: JAMES RYAN (Ireland) - averaged double-figure carries a game across the tournament during his debut Six Nations campaign as he confirmed a burgeoning reputation.

5: ALUN WYN JONES (Wales) - the Wales captain was never short of excellent as his team secured the runners-up spot. Dominant and direct in all phases, he once again came to the party.

6: SEBASTIAN NEGRI (Italy) - the Zimbabwe-born blindside flanker put down a marker in Italy's opener against England and he did not relent in terms of performance standards. The 23-year-old has a huge future.

7: YACOUBA CAMARA (France) - rangy, powerful and athletic, the Montpellier flanker displayed a workaholic approach, with his display in the victory over England being one of the tournament's stand-out contributions.

8: CJ STANDER (Ireland) - the rampant number eight repeatedly and effectively carried possession in the competition, often making considerable distance and enabling his team to enjoy gain-line supremacy. Relentless performer.

Replacements

16: Rory Best (Ireland), 17: Rob Evans (Wales), 18: Rabah Slimani (France), 19: Cory Hill (Wales), 20: Aaron Shingler (Wales), 21: Maxime Machenaud (France), 22: Huw Jones (Scotland), 23: Anthony Watson (England).

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