Women’s Six Nations 2024 fantasy rugby: Our best tips

Abby Dow
Abby Dow scored six tries in last year's championship - AP/Andrew Cornaga

Shifting the Women’s Six Nations away from the men’s tournament and into a separate window has brought several benefits. One of them is the opportunity to focus on fantasy strategy for the tournament, which has its own game.

Over the last couple of months, Ben Earl and Juan Ignacio Brex have carried my team, Drop Outs RFC. I made plenty of gaffes, obviously. Most egregious was dropping Duhan van der Merwe, following his quiet outing against France, prior to his hat-trick heroics in the Calcutta Cup. That felt pretty dumb; but there is an immediate chance for redemption.

The Women’s Six Nations fantasy game gives you a budget of 240 stars to pick a starting XV and a captain, whose score will double, as well as a ‘super sub’. The latter bags triple points if they come off the bench. Otherwise, their tally is halved.

Tries count for 10 points, with try assists netting four. Conversions are two, penalty kicks three and drop-goals five. Then come the more nuanced metrics. You get two points for every defender your player beats, and one for every 10m they carry. Tackles are worth one point, with breakdown steals getting five. Line-out steals and 50:22 kicks are valued at seven points.

Discipline lapses are costly. Each penalty conceded is -1, with yellows subtracting three and red cards taking off six points. Official player of the match awards really help you out – thank you, Messrs Earl and Brex – with a 15-point boost.

That is that for the scoring run-down. As the teams prepare for the second round of action, here are some tips to help you build your own side.

Big prices should be worth it

Prior to the first day of competition, three players commanded the top price tag of 20 stars: Gabrielle Vernier, Abby Dow and Marlie Packer. They should deliver on any investment. Last season, they were phenomenal. And they have continued to deliver.

Dow is now out on her own as the most expensive player in the game with a value of 20.3 stars, having returned 29 points from round one in Italy before following that up with 33 more against Wales at Ashton Gate. The wing always looks for work and shrugs off tackles at will, so it will be worth the investment.

Packer topped the charts with seven tries in 2023. Her defence was relentless too, yielding 73 tackles and seven breakdown steals. She is never too far from the action and has retained her price tag of 20 stars.

Vernier scored five tries, gave two assists and carried for 332 metres last season, but a relatively quiet beginning to this campaign has seen her price drop to 18.9 stars. Pauline Bourdon Sansus has also sunk to 17.9 stars. Keep the faith, would be my advice.

Romane Menager (18.8 stars), Alex Callender (18.3 stars) and Zoe Aldcroft (18.7 stars) are three more to have enjoyed an uplift but among the most significant climbers has been Ellie Kildunne, who has looked fiercely motivated. A 75-point haul on the opening weekend was quite remarkable and she now costs 19.7 stars.

Eye up the Wales back-rowers

Just as Tommy Reffell and Aaron Wainwright were reliable sources of points during the men’s competition, so should their compatriots and fellow back-rowers be during the women’s competition.

Callender was second only to Marlie Packer in the breakdown turnover stakes last season, picking up six, while No 8 Bethan Lewis made five as well as two more line-out steals. The latter has climbed to 15.5 stars after a strong game against Scotland in defeat. The all-action Alisha Butchers (15.3 stars) missed the 2023 Six Nations after a fantastic tournament in 2022, during which she racked up 242 running metres and 60 tackles as well as two pilfers. She started against Scotland before reverting to the bench in round two but many are calling for her return to the run-on XV this weekend.

Pack in the kickers

Full-backs are normally the place to fit in an extra place-kicker in the men’s game; think of Tommaso Allan or Thomas Ramos. In the Women’s Six Nations, there is potential for even more unconventional picks.

Beatrice Rigoni (16 stars), the Sale Sharks centre, is Italy’s kicker. Hannah O’Connor (13.3 stars), named at lock for Ireland against France in round one, is more than handy from the tee as well. Lana Skeldon (15.8 stars), the Scotland hooker, has also kicked for goal previously. She picked up an injury in Cardiff and, even though she could yet return before the end of the tournament, Helen Nelson (15.1 stars) was exceptionally accurate against Wales, albeit she was not on target against France.

Trust youth to cause a stir

Sarah Hunter and Jessy Tremouliere both retired last year, reinforcing how this tournament will be one that launches new stars. Giovanni Raineri, the former Test centre coaching Italy, has high hopes for 22-year-old Francesca Granzotto (9.3 stars), a scrum-half capable of moving to wing or full-back.

Maddie Feaunati (10.1 stars), who made her Red Roses debut from the bench in Italy, has England insiders very excited. Another possible ‘super sub’, perhaps? Katie Corrigan (12.5 stars), the Ireland wing, was just 18 at the start of the Six Nations. She was a prolific try-scorer for Wolfhounds in the Celtic Challenge and has earned a shot at the top level.

Back domestic form

Evie Gallagher warmed up for Scotland’s campaign with some fine performances for Bristol Bears in Premiership Women’s Rugby and has carried that momentum through, looking a bargain at 16 stars.

Consider all-action front-rowers…

Sisilia Tuipulotu (15.8 stars) and Skeldon scored four tries apiece last season, while Neve Jones (16.7 stars), the Ireland hooker, topped the tournament tackle count with 90 – nine more than anyone else. Jones has racked up 35 more in two rounds this season.

England’s maul machine still looks devastating. Lark Atkin-Davies (16.4 stars) has started at hooker with Connie Powell (13.6 stars) coming off the bench to enhance her reputation. Hannah Botterman (15.3 stars) is an exceptional breakdown spoiler who knows the way to the try-line.

…and sevens speedsters

Jasmine Joyce was the second most expensive player on the Wales roster but has slipped back to 15.2 stars, while Lisa Thomson (12.6 stars) and Rhona Lloyd (15.9 stars) are back from GB Sevens duty and into the Scotland back line. Each of the latter two have decreased in value. Coreen Grant (13 stars), their team-mate, began with a sparkling half-century at Cardiff Arms Park before being restricted to one point against France.

Bank on English domination?

John Mitchell will be itching for England to pick up where they left off in 2023, when they landed a second consecutive Grand Slam and a fifth championship title in succession. Emily Scarratt (15.3 stars) was in an unfamiliar role of inside centre against Italy. Things did not quite seem to click, but she will surely feature further in the absence of Helena Rowland. Line-out guru Abbie Ward (16 stars) has enjoyed a more convincing return. England’s biggest challenge looks to be a trip to Bordeaux in the final round. France will not roll over.

Indeed, when I asked around for recommendations for this article, one response simply read: “Madoussou Fall. Big.” Fall, who plays for Stade Bordelais, will now set you back 13.9 stars after a player-of-the-match effort against Italy and 24 more points in a tight win over Scotland.