Six Nations Monday jury verdict: best player, standout moment, is Sexton the greatest and more …

Has Jonathan Sexton proven himself to be Ireland's greatest rugby player? Photo: PA

Our panel of rugby writers give their verdict to specific questions concerning the recently finished Six Nations, an easier task considering the outcome of the championship.

1 – Who was your player of the tournament?

Ruaidhri O’Connor: He didn’t get to see it out in the end, but Hugo Keenan was consistently excellent for Ireland in every facet of the game. His error-free game is so important to the way the team functions, while his attack has gone to another level.

David Kelly: Antoine Dupont - one of those rare wonderful talents who just captivates attention; the thrill of not knowing what may happen next, and the fascination that often he may not have a clue either. Truly transcends the sport.

Will Slattery: Caelan Doris started impressively but faded a bit and while there were plenty of strong Irish performers, Hugo Keenan was top quality in every game and deserves the prize. Antoine Dupont was also sensational.

Tony Ward: Antoine Dupont is the most complete scrum half of the professional era if not the most influential player in any position in any team in the global game at this point in time. If he has any underlying weakness, I don’t see it. Yet again in this campaign, he was sublime in everything he did. From an Irish perspective, Caelan Doris and Josh van der Flier, with Hugo Keenan pretty close behind, were our standout performers, while the management role of Jonathan Sexton needs little elaboration.

Brendan Fanning: Hugo Keenan.

Jonathan Bradley: Ireland's triumph really was one of the collective and it is no exaggeration to say that a case could be made for any of six or so of their players. Faced with that impossible choice, Antoine Dupont was superb again for France. His tackle on Mack Hansen was, I think, one of the most ludicrous things I've seen on a rugby pitch in quite some time. A joy to watch.

Cian Tracey: It says a lot about Ireland’s impressive collective effort that there wasn’t necessarily one standout player. Caelan Doris, Hugo Keenan, Dan Sheehan, Mack Hansen and Peter O’Mahony are in the conversation, but for me, James Ryan was the pick of the bunch. Remarkable to think he played every minute of the campaign. An honourable mention to Antoine Dupont, who continues to amaze.

2 – What moment from Ireland’s Grand Slam will stay with you the longest?

DK: Perhaps something that none of us ever saw because it prompted moments that everybody eventually did see – unless Netflix managed to inveigle their way in – the dressing-room at half-time in Murrayfield. Mayhem provoking firstly, mirth, then myopic focus. A design not just for sport but life itself.

CT: To have been on the side of the pitch, a rarity for us, immediately after Ireland lifted the Six Nations trophy in front of a packed Aviva Stadium was a real privilege. Looking up at the vastness of the stadium, the sheer joy on supporters' faces and then chatting to several emotional players as they went along their lap of honour is a moment that will live long in my memory.

JB: The first 40 minutes of Ireland against France was a truly staggering half of Test rugby, but, for me, this Grand Slam will be remembered best for Ireland's apparent ability to deal with all that was thrown at them without missing a beat. As such, it will be the sight of Josh van der Flier and Cian Healy sharing the hooker's set-piece responsibilities in Murrayfield that lives longest in the memory.

ROC: All this campaign lacked was a Johnny Sexton drop-goal moment, but Garry Ringrose’s try against the French that gave them the breathing space they needed in an epic encounter is the closest we got.

TW: How long is a piece of string? Far too many in the memory bank to recall any specific standout moment. Each and every game had them in abundance. So I’ll revert to the head coach and cite his every moment of composed humility throughout this unprecedented campaign.

WS: The opening quarter against Wales wasn't necessarily the highest of highs, but it was such a ruthlessly efficient start on the road that it immediately sent out a signal Ireland were hyper-focused on collecting a Grand Slam.

BF: Dan Sheehan’s acceleration when he took the inside pass from Josh van der Flier for his first try against England.

3 – What was the most impressive aspect of Ireland’s campaign and where do they have most room to improve ahead of the World Cup?

TW: It might sound a little bit cliched, but the ability to find a way specifically in terms of the meticulously assembled ‘position appropriate’ bench, which is, without doubt, the strongest and most impact friendly in our rugby playing history. Room for improvement? Yes, of course, there is. From 1 to 23 and beyond. In the most simplistic of terms, it is why we are where we are. No bomb squad, just a fully committed group in a happy working environment in pursuit of excellence and, to borrow from the equally influential coaching team, to help this most talented group become even better again and collectively come September, or more specifically late October, to be the very best that they can be.

DK: The advance of serious depth of a pool of players who can thrive in circumstances such as the above; the technical and physical abilities of Irish World Cup contenders has never been questioned in recent tournaments; only its ability to adapt to tough circumstances.

BF: Their calmness under fire. Scrummaging is the only concern.

JB: Dominance through depth. While James Lowe, James Ryan, Josh van der Flier and Mack Hansen were ever present, just look at all those that missed time, whether it be whole games or sections thereof, through injury. Ireland have banished the notion of irreplaceable players. It may seem like knit-picking, but whether it was the expectation or the weight of history, Ireland let their nerves get the better of them at times against England, something that would be punished by a better team in, say, a World Cup quarter-final.

ROC: The coach’s unflustered approach to anything and everything that went wrong. Andy Farrell’s calm filtered down to the team, who were always unflustered even when things were going against them. Murrayfield was the best example of their adaptability. Their attack is excellent in flashes, but there’s room for greater accuracy.

WS: Completing a clean sweep while also dealing with the amount of absentees Ireland had bodes well for a World Cup campaign that has been traditionally tumultuous on the injury front.

CT: To have won a Grand Slam with 24 from a possible 25 points, and yet still come away feeling like there is much more in this team, sums up the incredible position Ireland find themselves in right now. The set-piece requires further attention, though, particularly with South Africa in mind come the World Cup.

4 – Andy Farrell believes Johnny Sexton is Ireland’s greatest player, is he right? If not, who is top of your list?

JB: Folly to compare players you've only watched in grainy highlight clips - ruling the likes of Jack Kyle or Mike Gibson out of this personal debate - so, essentially, it comes down to Brian O'Driscoll or Johnny Sexton. While it once would have seemed almost unthinkable given BOD's preternatural talent and the credit owed for banishing so many bad memories of the 1990s, Sexton's honours and accolades, as well as longevity and status as Ireland's most important player during a historic decade, are now almost surely giving him the edge.

CT: Yes. I have been banging this drum for a while, but Sexton is not just Ireland’s greatest player, he is also one of the best to have played the sport. Amazingly, he still seems to be under-appreciated by some people. Perhaps the full extent of what he has done for Irish rugby will only be understood when he hangs up his boots.

TW: I take Andy Farrell to mean of the professional era as you cannot even begin to compare pre-August ’95 post that landmark date and the game, to borrow the buzz phrase of the time, ‘going open’. How you measure the greatest, I’m not too sure, but in terms of game management, longevity (bear in mind, he will be past his 38th birthday when RWC ’23 kicks into gear) and influence on so many others, he is up there alongside Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell at the very top of the tree.

BF: It’s fair enough, especially given the huge turnaround from two years ago when he looked done. His dominance is both a strength and a weakness: great when he’s there but a gaping hole when he’s not.

DK: He is the greatest player as his accomplishments surpass all those who have preceded him. There may have been better players in other eras, but none coincided with such a period of Irish supremacy on the world stage.

ROC: He’s firmly in the conversation and he’s probably been the most influential of the professional era, but Brian O’Driscoll remains top of the pile in my book. The current team are building on the breakthrough work that he, Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara and others put in place.

WS: Brian O'Driscoll and Johnny Sexton are out on their own, but the out-half will be the Irish GOAT if the World Cup goes well this autumn.

5 – Which Six Nations team will go furthest at the World Cup this autumn?

DK: France.

BF: Ireland

CT: If you’d asked me this question before France’s demolition job at Twickenham, I would have been very tempted to say Ireland, but that stunning performance was a reminder that Les Bleus haven’t lost their mojo. The pressure of a home World Cup could tell, with Ireland primed for a proper title challenge.

ROC: Ireland’s World Cup record invited a fatalistic streak and I still think France could be the last European side standing. The draw means a poor England side may even make it further, but Ireland are capable of going all the way.

TW: The smart money will be on France for very obvious reasons. The premature draw is a sad joke with the laugh on every one of us. However, much like England in 2003 we could not be better placed ahead of the big kick off and I’ll leave it at that.

WS: France and Ireland will both reach the final... after that, let's see.

JB: Ireland and France could win the whole thing or go out in the quarter-finals without either outcome being considered a shock. Therefore, and prepare yourself for the seemingly ludicrous here, the smart money is still on England, a bad team who extraordinarily can make it to a semi-final without needing to play a single opponent any better than they are.

6 – Select your team of the tournament (15-9,1-8)?

DK: Thomas Ramos (France), Damian Penaud (France), Garry Ringrose (Ireland), Jonathan Danty (France), Mack Hansen (Ireland); Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Antoine Dupont (France); Cyrile Baille (France), Dan Sheehan (Ireland), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland); Thibaud Flament (France), James Ryan (Ireland), Peter O’Mahony (Ireland), Josh van der Flier (Ireland), Caelan Doris (Ireland).

ROC: Hugo Keenan (Ireland); Damian Penaud (France), Garry Ringrose (Ireland), Sione Tuipulotu (Scotland), James Lowe (Ireland); Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Antoine Dupont (France); Andrew Porter (Ireland), Dan Sheehan (Ireland), Zander Fagerson (Scotland); Thibaut Flament (France), James Ryan (Ireland); Peter O’Maony (Ireland), Josh van der Flier (Ireland), Caelan Doris (Ireland)

WS: Hugo Keenan (Ireland), Damian Penaud (France), Huw Jones (Scotland), Sione Tuipulotu (Scotland), James Lowe (Ireland), Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Antoine Dupont (France), Cyril Baille (France), George Turner (Scotland), Finlay Bealham (Ireland), James Ryan (Ireland), Thibaud Flament (France), Peter O'Mahony (Ireland), Josh van der Flier (Ireland), Caelan Doris (Ireland).

JB: Hugo Keenan (Ireland); Damian Penaud (France), Huw Jones (Scotland), Sione Tuipulotu (Scotland), Mack Hansen (Ireland); Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Antoine Dupont (France); Cyril Baille (France), Dan Sheehan (Ireland), Finlay Bealham (Ireland); James Ryan (Ireland), Thibaud Flament (France); Charles Ollivon (France), Josh van der Flier (Ireland), Caelan Doris (Ireland).

CT: H Keenan (Ireland); D Penaud (France), G Ringrose (Ireland), S Tuipulotu (Scotland), M Hansen (Ireland); J Sexton (Ireland), A Dupont (France); C Baille (France), D Sheehan (Ireland), F Bealham (Ireland); T Flament (France), J Ryan (Ireland); P O’Mahony (Ireland), J van der Flier (Ireland), C Doris (Ireland).

TW: I will take two small liberties at inside centre and blindside flank; Hugo Keenan (Ireland); Damian Penaud (France), Huw Jones (Scotland), Gael Fickou (France), James Lowe (Ireland); Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Antoine Dupont (France); Andrew Porter (Ireland), Dan Sheehan (Ireland), Uini Atonio (France); Thibaud Flament (France), James Ryan (Ireland); Charles Olivion (France), Josh Van Der Flier (Ireland), Caelan Doris (Ireland)

BF: Hugo Keenan (Ireland); Damian Penaud (France), Garry Ringrose (Ireland), Jonathan Danty (France), Mack Hansen (Ireland); Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Antoine Dupont (France); Pierre Schoeman (Scotland), Dan Sheehan (Ireland), Zander Fagerson (Scotland); Thibaud Flament (France), James Ryan (Ireland); Greg Alldritt (France), Josh van der Flier (Ireland), Caelan Doris (Ireland)