Six Nations Team of the Week: France lead the way as top two teams in the world dominate selection
Now that the dust has settled on Round Four of the Six Nations, we have gone through the action to pick the best players from the weekend.
The whole XV is unsurprisingly comprised of France and Ireland players following their impressive victories over England and Scotland, respectively. With Les Bleus smashing England 53-10 at Twickenham, they have nine representatives, while the Irish have six after defeating Scotland 22-7.
Six Nations Team of the Week
15 Thomas Ramos (France): A great weekend for full-backs, and Ramos was in vintage form for France at Twickenham, where he dominated almost every facet of the match. We might have picked either of Ireland’s Hugo Keenan or skilful Welshman, Liam Williams, but Ramos was an influential genius for France.
14 Mack Hansen (Ireland): A try and a spirited display from the moustachioed Irishman gets him the nod on the right wing. Doesn’t have the out-and-out gas of some of his contemporaries, but Hansen is such a smart footballer who constantly makes the right decisions. His finish in the first half was sublime while he was also excellent under the high ball.
13 Gael Fickou (France): A tough choice at outside centre with Scotland’s Huw Jones and Italy’s Juan Ignacio Brex both in imperious running form, but Fickou was the calm in the Twickenham chaos as the centre kicked for a crucial score for Damian Penaud and led the French backline in both defence and attack.
12 Jonathan Danty (France): Danty’s absence in recent weeks for France cannot be understated. His teammate, Francois Cros, described him to Planet Rugby as our ‘quatrième troisième ligne’ or fourth back-row, but his impact was much greater than even that. Scotland’s Sione Tuipolotu and Ireland’s Bundee Aki were both again outstanding in direct opposition.
11 Damian Penaud (France): Yes, he plays on the right but we simply had to fit him and Hansen in our side. It is perhaps tough on James Lowe, who impressed for Ireland, but Penaud was another outstanding French performer on Saturday. He scored twice late on to move ahead of Vincent Clerc in France’s top Six Nations try-scorers list.
10 Johnny Sexton (Ireland): We could have tossed a coin between France’s Romain Ntamack and Sexton but becoming the Six Nations joint top-scorer is a special accolade, so on that basis it’s the green of Ireland this week. Finn Russell’s passing into space needs to be seen to be believed at times, but Scotland may miss his presence next week as he limped off with an ongoing leg injury.
9 Antoine Dupont (France): Just incredible. His left-footed 50:22 might feature in the Spring Collection in the Louvre this year and he played a game of the gods for 70 magnificent minutes and is our player of the week. Ben White’s consistency for the Scots couldn’t be illustrated better than his calm head under pressure at Murrayfield, whilst Wales’ Rhys Webb impressed in Rome as he crossed for a great try.
8 Gregory Alldritt (France): The old war horse is back at his rampaging best and was a focal point of a magnificent French loose forward effort at Twickenham. Wales’ Taulupe Falateu was also rolling back the years in Rome, whilst Ireland’s Jack Conan illustrated the depth of Irish back-row talent replacing Caelan Doris.
7 Francois Cros (France): Cros’ ruck work and suffocating presence is the oil in France’s engine as he delivered a typically relentless performance of hustle and bustle at Twickenham in his own unfussy manner. He might wear six but in the French team he’s their openside breakdown specialist. Michele Lamaro and Josh van der Flier both starred for their teams, with Van der Flier putting in an impressive shift at lineout time.
6 Charles Ollivon (France): Simply magnificent. His offload started the French riot and he continued for 65 brilliant minutes, grabbing a brace himself and completes an all-French loose trio selection. Peter O’Mahony was absolutely superb for Ireland and ran Ollivon to the wire, whilst Italy’s Seb Negri vindicated his selection once more for Italy in an abrasive try-scoring shift.
5 James Ryan (Ireland): A massive shift from a massive man up against a superb Scottish side, Ryan’s presence was vital for Ireland and he crossed for another wonderful try. Scotland’s Jonny Gray was splendid once again and Wales’ Adam Beard also impressed in a powerful showing in Rome.
4 Thibaud Flament (France): Flament is nailing down a starting place in Cameron Woki’s absence and produced a sterling display in the lineout and a formidable defensive showing, but it was his try-scoring antics that really grabbed the eye. Ryan Baird added to his growing reputation as one of Ireland’s bench performers and Scotland’s Scott Cummings also showed promise in his bench cameo.
3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland): The Jukebox is back and he banged out all of his hits in a massive return to action for Ireland. Dorian Aldegheri put in a massive effort in France’s cricket score and reminded the selectors of his worth as the Rugby World Cup selection beckons. Wales’ Tomas Francis was the pick of the tightheads in Rome.
2 Cian Healy (Ireland): Healy joins a fairly exclusive list of players who’ve played across the front-row at Test level, joining Roberto Grau, Pascal Ondarts and Federico Mendez together with a few others. France’s Julien Marchand is like a fourth back-rower in most games and he contributed in his own way whilst veteran Ken Owens was one of Wales’ stars in Rome.
1 Andrew Porter (Ireland): A superb performance from the big prop year saw him get the better of Zander Fagerson yet still have the energy to make four thundering carries, 10 tackles and a crucial turnover. Scotland’s Pierre Schoeman might have lost the scrum battle but was in sparkling form running hard in Edinburgh, whilst France’s Cyril Baille battered the English defence tirelessly on 10 occasions for an impressive 38 metres and looked back to his scrummaging best.
READ MORE: Six Nations: Two Cents Rugby picks his top five players of Round Four
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