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The best of the 2012 Six Nations and team of the tournament

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Bryn Palmer | 07:02 UK time, Tuesday, 20 March 2012

So, another Six Nations is done and dusted, one of the best since Five became Six in 2000.

A third Grand Slam in eight years for Wales. Plaudits for runners-up England. Misgivings over Ireland and France, a win for Italy and a third Wooden Spoon in nine years for Scotland.

Time for a few awards, and a team of the tournament.

I canvassed the views of the BBC’s main television analysts – former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies (JD), ex-England centre Jeremy Guscott (JG), former Scotland scrum-half Andy Nicol (AN) and ex-Ireland hooker Keith Wood (KW) – for their highlights, and asked them for a mark out of 10 for their respective home nations, as well as their composite teams.

Player(s) of the Tournament:

While Scotland lock Richie Gray, Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris, France centre Wesley Fofana and Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny all had deserved mentions, our BBC team’s award goes to Wales flanker Dan Lydiate.

The 24-year-old missed the opening game against Ireland, but returned with a man-of-the-match display against Scotland, and earned another award for his stunning performance in the Grand Slam decider against France.

Previously perceived as an unsung hero whose sterling efforts went largely unseen, Lydiate lived up to his “Chopper” and “Silent Ninja” nicknames in a superbly destructive display. As Jonathan Davies put it: “He does all the dirty work, and his work-rate is phenomenal. And he put in his biggest performance when it mattered most .”

Stand-out moment:

Unanimous agreement from our BBC analysts on this. It came on the opening weekend, Ireland v Wales in Dublin. From a tap-down from flanker Justin Tipuric at the tail of a line-out, Wales – through half-backs Mike Phillips and Rhys Priestland – launched the giant George North off his left wing.

The teenage wing wonder skipped around Gordon D’Arcy and bumped off Fergus McFadden before unleashing the deftest of offloads out the back of his right hand to Jonathan Davies, who shredded the remaining defence to score at the posts. Brutal and beautiful in equal measure, an exquisitely timed move executed with power, pace and precision.

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Best try/tries:

The aforementioned Jonathan Davies try against Ireland featured highly, as did Scott Williams’s winning solo try for Wales at Twickenham.

Keith Wood opted for a third Welsh try, Alex Cuthbert’s side-stepping effort that proved the difference against France, purely for its significance alone.

Andy Nicol picked out Stuart Hogg’s against France as “the first of many for a future star of Scottish rugby”.

The others both came in England’s stirring victory over France in Paris, Jonathan Davies and Jeremy Guscott both picking out Manu Tuilagi’s arcing run to the right corner, after a thumping hit from Chris Ashton and clever offload from Owen Farrell.

Nicol also enjoyed the way Tom Croft “put the after-burners on and scorched across the 22” for the winning try.

Biggest disappointment:

Scotland. “Started with so much promise but delivered very little other than a few stand-out performances from some of the young lads.” (AN)

Scotland’s discipline. “They performed well against England, Wales and France, yet they couldn’t go to Italy and win. A lot of that was down to their own indiscipline.” (JD)

“France’s unwillingness to play with the ambition that’s instinctive within them.” (JG)

“The Irish scrum's performance at Twickenham.” (KW)

Marks out of 10:

England: 7.5/10. “Winning all three away games was a massive achievement for this new, inexperienced squad. I had them down to finish fourth; they exceeded my expectations and, I bet, many others.” (JG)

Ireland: 6/10. “They struggled to find leadership. Senior players didn’t step up in the absence of the injured Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell.” (KW)

Scotland: 3/10. “Whitewashed, Wooden Spoon and only four tries says it all really!” (AN)

Wales: 9/10. “I would have given them a 10 after winning the Grand Slam, but I believe there is more to come offensively from this side.” (JD)

France: 5/10. “That is because I am a very kind person!” (Thomas Castaignede). “They didn’t produce what we expected of them in terms of attacking ambition. I expected a lot more.”

Anyone want to give Italy a mark out of 10?

Team of the Tournament:

15: Rob Kearney (Ireland). Leigh Halfpenny, the tournament’s top points-scorer with 66, enjoyed plenty of decisive moments – a match-winning penalty against Ireland, throwing himself at David Strettle’s feet to stop the England wing in the final play of the game – and earned JD’s vote. But the Irishman – safe as houses under the high ball, and rejuvenated in his counter-attacking from deep – took the other three. Likely to be rivals for the British & Irish Lions Test jersey next year.

14: Tommy Bowe (Ireland). Alex Cuthbert, who got stronger as the tournament went on and scored three tries including the crucial one against France, earned KW’s vote. But the County Monaghan man nabbed the other three, taking his five tries with the sharpness that made him a Lion in 2009.

13: Jonathan Davies (Wales). England’s Manu Tuilagi missed the first two games but swiftly brought his destructive power to bear when he did enter the fray. But the Welshman brought variety, intelligent angles, sharp passing and finishing power to the Welsh midfield. A midfield diamond.

12. Wesley Fofana (France). Jamie Roberts had a strong tournament for Wales and earned a vote, but France uncovered a new star in the shape of Fofana, who scored a try in each of his first four Tests. Cuts delicious angles and pace to burn. Wasted when he was moved to the wing against Wales.

11. George North (Wales). JD felt Cuthbert had edged his more celebrated wing partner by the end of the Championship, but the original giant Welsh wing was a constant threat every time the ball came in his direction. Just the one try against Ireland, but brings so much more. A game-breaker.

10. Owen Farrell (England). Centre for first two matches, he moved to 10 after Charlie Hodgson’s injury and remained there after a superb outing against Wales. Still work to be done on his attacking game, but with Jonny Sexton only impressing in patches and Rhys Priestland suffering a mid-tournament dip, the 20-year-old ’s defensive excellence and nerveless goal-kicking gave him the nod.

9. Mike Phillips (Wales). With “no outstanding candidate or no-one setting the world alight” (JD), Phillips took all four votes. Started off in superb form against Ireland, and a tower of strength when Wales were down to 14 men, particularly at Twickenham, he also frustrated at times with the speed of his distribution and decision-making. Honourable mentions to Mike Blair and Lee Dickson.

1. Gethin Jenkins (Wales). England’s Alex Corbisiero enhanced his growing reputation against some of the best scrummagers in the game, but the Welshman – now a three-time Welsh Grand Slam winner – remains the benchmark for modern-day props. Intelligence, strength, and leadership.

2. Rory Best (Ireland). Although part of a badly beaten Irish front row on the final day, the Ulster hooker enjoyed a consistently strong tournament, led the side well after Paul O’Connell succumbed to injury and weighed in with a couple of tries as well.

3. Adam Jones (Wales). England’s Dan Cole enjoyed two barnstorming displays against France and Ireland to finish strongly and earn a couple of votes, but the hair-bear Welshman, another triple Grand Slammer, gets the nod. The rock on which Wales success was built, and perhaps their most important player. Has made the Welsh scrum a source of strength, when he is there.

4. Richie Gray (Scotland). Unanimous choice and another Lion in the making. Dominant in the line-out, prodigious ball-carrier, great hands, pace and footballing ability, as he showed with his brilliant try against Ireland.  Shame Scots don’t have more like him.

5. Ian Evans (Wales). Ireland skipper Paul O’Connell earned a couple of votes but his campaign ended after three matches. Wales were without their two World Cup locks at the outset, but Evans unleashed a series of towering displays, after several years of injury misery, to deliver on the promise of his early career. Played in every minute of every game, and will take some shifting.

6. Dan Lydiate (Wales). Possibly the most hotly contested spot in this team, and the Lions Test team in Australia next year, with Ireland’s Stephen Ferris and England’s Tom Croft both enjoying excellent campaigns. But the unsung Welshman earned two man-of-the-match awards, the latter with a thundering display in the Grand Slam decider, to confirm his emergence as a world-class talent.

7. Thierry Dusautoir (France). Ross Rennie earned JD’s vote as one of several finds for Scotland, while Sam Warburton turned in a man-of-the-match display against England, but only played two other halves of rugby. The France captain, meanwhile, remained a totem figure and pillar of consistency even in a side struggling to find its true identity under Philippe Saint-Andre.

8. David Denton (Scotland). Toby Faletau built on the promise of the World Cup and finished strongly against France to confirm his reputation as another strong Lions prospect. But Zimbawe-born Denton began with a bullocking man-of-the-match performance against England, and was another revelation in a losing side.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    One of the most sensible blogs I've seen concerning this tournament!!

  • Comment number 2.

    no mention for parisse? the one shining light for italy as per usual

  • Comment number 3.

    A good analysis of one of the best Six Nations tournaments for a good while (although I'm not sure who Willy Fofana is). The battle for Test spots in the Lions back row next year is going to be something to behold!

  • Comment number 4.

    Fully understand the number of Welshmen in this list as theyve had a cracking 6 Nations.....rather disappointed that although finishing a strong 2nd in the tournament, theres only 1 Englishman on the list ??

  • Comment number 5.

    Good balanced blog. Although only 1 Eng rep in the above 15, plenty of honorable mentions, but rightly Welsh players dominate.

  • Comment number 6.

    What a joke this blog is. Scotland come last and have 2 in the best team, England come second and if they had better officials in the Wales game probably would of won it and they have one player in the best team. Is it a deliberate anti english blog?

  • Comment number 7.

    At 4, It seems to me that the really excellent English players were just pipped to the post by the Welsh ones. If you took out the Welsh players from this, then all the others would remain the same, but most of the new arrivals would be English. just the luck of the draw unfortunately.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think a 9/10 for Wales is a bit high. Don't think we ever played to our potential except when we put the points on to Scotland.

    As for the team it's not too bad. That's one very strong set of forwards it has to be said and the backs, well if they keep their fitness and form that's one amazing set of backs to chose from for the lions tour.

    To show ny impartiality as a Welshman I thought that England made some massive improvements towards the latter stages. I thoroughly hope Lancaster gets the job up to the WC and that he's allowed to travel with the lions next year in some capacity. A weak England diminishes the tournament and I for one would prefer Wales to beat a good England side at home next year than a poor one :)

    Bring on the summer!

  • Comment number 9.

    Seems a shame you didn't give Italy a score - I would probably say Italian forwards a 6 and Italian backs a 3, with Italian Half Backs a 1! So overall maybe a 4 or a 5...

  • Comment number 10.

    I agree with alot of the team selection and i do appreciate England played well considering the terrible world cup, but what is all the fuss with Owen Farrell, i can't really recall a game that he influenced by a massive line break, a killer pass or a massive hit?! What is all the hype about!! Just a massive congratualtions to Wales we were truly outsatnding especially as most teams came out to just defend and try and score penalties, we were always in control even when it loked close. Also well done Dan, you did Radnorshire and the whole of Wales proud, Awsome!!!!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    Change Fofana for Jamie Roberts, Dusautoir for Warburton, and Denton for Heaslip and you got yourself a Lions team...

  • Comment number 12.

    Interesting that no England forwards make it into the list when they were arguably the best pack in the Tournament having mullered Ireland and France.

    There also seems to be the usual blind welsh optimism. Yes, they are good but they only just beat England and England finished second in the tournament. Had the final game been vs England at Twickenham what price a white win.

    Finally, if Lancaster doesn't get the coaching job I might be supporting Wales in the future.

  • Comment number 13.

    @Wicksy84 - "if they had better officials in the Wales game probably would of won it". Firstly, it's would HAVE won it, not would OF won it (let's at least get our grammar right), but most importantly is it actually possible for England to compete in a major sporting tournament without resorting to blaming the officials when they don't win it? I've never known such a nation of sore losers.

  • Comment number 14.

    What is with the BBC's love with everything not English! The blog is a joke, only one England player in the team of the tournement. How Ben Morgan is not 8 of the 6N, a head in my hands moment..

  • Comment number 15.

    To those bemoaning the lack of English players on the list, I don't actually think that England had that many stand-out individual performances. What England had throughout the tournament (and what Scotland lacked) was the team game. England had a team which worked together well and formed the structure of a solid defence. Scotland, on the other hand, while having some individuals who were fantastic (Gray, Denton, Rennie and, apart from the final game, Ford), there was little in the way of team play - no supports from line breaks and so on.

    This tournament has gone to show that relatively inexperienced players can do extremely well if the tactics and teamwork are right, and I think England should be very proud, despite not having too many in the (entirely subjective) team of the tournament.

  • Comment number 16.

    Did David Denton really have a better tournament than Ben Morgan? Really?

    Apart from that glaring omission it's fairly balnced list with most England's best being edged by Welsh players and the slight bias going to the Grand Slam champions. I bet it would of been the other way around had England won the tournament(one TMO decision and a few points in it).

  • Comment number 17.

    Pretty strong side, though again Ben Morgan has to be in it. Englands find of the tournament. Thought North was pretty poor really so change those two and probably about right.

  • Comment number 18.

    Here we go again, this blog is a joke, it's anti English, only one England player in the list . . . . get a grip! England weren't good enough, they played some good rugby (not a lot), Ben Morgan shines for 40mins before blowing a gasket, Farrell is a great kicker, Tuilagi only played half a tournament, Ashton didn't turn up, Cole scrummaged well but then walked around the pitch, in fact the most impressive player in the England side was someone that nobody has mentioned - Botha (Even if he is South African).

    The Welsh players deserve to be there, afterall, they did win the tournament. Only England fans will remember England coming 2nd, every other team knows full well you get zip for not winning.

  • Comment number 19.

    Didn’t realise England finished 2nd, as usual trying to appease the minority nations, how Manu isn’t in that team I don’t know. Going by the content of the blog, you might as well have called it ‘an overview of Wales’ six nation campaign’

  • Comment number 20.

    Disappointed with the blog to be honest. Wales were good and well done for the Grand Slam but 9 out of 10 when their victory over England was helped by some highly dodgy decisions by the ref at key moments and they gave a nervy performance against France in the last match. To give scotland a 5/10 is laughable considering their appalling unforced errors at key moments. Considering that they themselves stated that england performed at a level much greater than anyone expected I would have given them higher than 7.5, especially as they were a video refs decision (which again some have wondered why it wasn't given as I am pretty sure attackers are meant to get benefit of the doubt) from potentially getting a deserved draw against wales.

    As for the team, I echo the thoughts of others that it is laughable that a wooden spoon side has 2 players in the team of the tournament. Just because they stood out in a side that played badly doesnt mean they deserve a place. I would potentially keep Gray but would take Denton off in place of either Morgan (who if you are talking about 'finds' of the tournament surely deserves a place) or Faletau who was solid throughout. Dusautoir would be gone for Warburton or Croft.

  • Comment number 21.

    comment 7 is spot on. As a proud Englishman, I have to say, its hard to disagree that most of the English were pipped by the better men throughout the tournament (albeit said begrudingly)! Would think that Manu possibly deserved to squeeze in due to his arrival seeming to lift the team. Morgan is a star in the making - not the finished article by any means, but am looking forward to seeing him develop in the future after this tournament.

  • Comment number 22.

    Bryn has done his job well once again. Put together an article based on views and opinions from ex top class players from all the participating nations (except Italy) for it to be ridiculed and torn apart by jealous/delirious English supporters, retaliations from the Celts, back and for, back and for . . . .

    Well done Bryn keep up the good work.
    Come on English supporters, keep up your . . . um . . . well . . . work.

  • Comment number 23.

    For crying out loud everyone it's just a series of pundits giving their opinions. It's not deliberately anti-English. You could argue a couple more England players into that selection, like Morgan or Tuilagi, but equally everyone who's already in it deserves the praise. And the fact that two Scots shone in such a dire team arguably merits more praise than the England players performing well in what became a pretty solid unit.

    Also Wicksy84 England would not 'of' [sic...] won with better officials against Wales. If that try is given it's a tricky conversion for at best a draw...

  • Comment number 24.

    Yeah agree with the sentiment of the majority on here. Yes well done Wales on an excellent campaign but the anti-english sentiment on the BBC is getting boring.

    No English supporter is getting carried away with our performances so far but 2 picks for Scotland because 2 'OK' players stood out amongst so many poor ones is a terrible decision. No Morgan is plain stupid.

    Also the Scottish players who have picked probably only played well against England (which is all the Scots seem to play for anyway). They were all dire against both Wales and Italy. Italy didn't fluke that win they deservedly beat them.

  • Comment number 25.

    why are the english fans getting so upset about refs dodgy decisions wales were down to 14 men for ten mins against england and you never took your chance. also last year england went to dublin for a grand slam and put a nervy performance in and got smashed. there is a lot of welsh players in this team because they were the best team over the 5 games which means their players played better than the ones they beat to win.

  • Comment number 26.

    'how Manu isn’t in that team I don’t know.'

    I imagine it's something to do with the fact that Jonathan Davies has much more to his game than Tuilagi.

  • Comment number 27.

    The tournament ultimately came down to the England Wales clash, which no one could say Wales deserved to win, given the fact that England made Wales look like the Russia under 12 girls side in attack, and thoroughly dominated the play. Apart from that match, both sides won all their games. England however, won away from home 3 times for the first time, and had a side with less than half Wales' caps. The real Tournament XV would have an English Front Row, if not the entire pack on the basis of the Ireland game alone. As for the backs, George North is big but little else. Put Tuilagi or Barritt in the centres to represent the fact that England had far and away the best defence in the 6 nations and put Fofana on the wing where he ended up playing. Kearney started well but let himself down against England. I'd take Foden or Halfpenny instead.

  • Comment number 28.

    Agree with #17 and #20, can't believe this blog doesn't even mention Morgan who for me was hands down the best 8 of the tournament, Denton was good but I thought Sergio Parisse was up there as well.

    From the last performance against Ireland, the front row has to get a mention. Never once did the Welsh front row dominate to the point that every scrum they contested they earned their team a penalty/penalty try, never seen a display like it.

    I remember the last Lion tour that was Welsh/Irish heavy as well and we were so successful weren't we :-(.

    Apart from George North, Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Lydiate I thought it was a pretty ordinary Welsh team who got lucky against both the Irish and the English, oh and dominated Scotland - Well done.

  • Comment number 29.

    'why are the english fans getting so upset about refs dodgy decisions' hahahahahahahahahaha the irony- that comment has literaly made my day already :DDD

  • Comment number 30.

    'England had far and away the best defence in the 6 nations'

    Then it's funny how Wales conceded fewer points, isn't it?

  • Comment number 31.

    It's a shame that so many BBC writers feel compelled to pander to anti-English sentiment.

    Astonishing that Best is included given the front performance in the final game. The front row was where the game was lost for Ireland. Best was not outstanding in the other three.

    What 2 members of a whitewashed Scotland team are doing there I don't know. If we're going for brave losers then just pick Parisse and Castrogiovanni every time. Good players in bad teams, who stand out because they outplay their opponents so greatly. I doubt the stocks of these guys, Denton and Gray would be such if they were in a capable team.

    Ben Morgan was a contender for player of the tournament and yet isn't there.

    Around the right number of Welsh, French.

  • Comment number 32.

    harry7527 have you acctually looked at the final table wales did not concede a try in their last 3 games they only conceded 4 in the whole tournement if england made wales look like russian under 12 girls what did scott williams make england look like?

  • Comment number 33.

    :DDD does this mean 3 mouths? that would explain the triple does of nonsense . . .

  • Comment number 34.

    It seems that, mostly, everyone seemed to be watching a different tournament to me. Wales were the best team as they won all their games, but 9/10 is nonsense. They were beaten by Ireland if not for a poor decision by the referee and against England it was one moment of quality/luck that sealed their victory.
    This was a poor tournament, in terms of quality Rugby, and Wales happened to be the team that kept that to a minimum. Wales are predictable and seem to believe that 'smashing', thanks JD, the opposition is the way to play good Rugby. They are wrong, all international players these days are big and strong and capable of bringing down Wales' two "giant" wingers. There was, and will only ever be, one Jonah Lomu and the two Welsh wingers, good as they are, will never be as good as him.

    The way to win games is to play quality Rugby and if Wales go to the Southern Hemisphere and play like they have in this Tournament they will be humiliated. They need a new scrum half as Mike Philips destroyed a lot of the forwards good work.

    Wales - 7/10 won grand slam but were way below par to other poor teams
    Scotland - 6/10 played well in parts
    Ireland - 6/10 beat Wales but for poor referee
    France - 4/10 didn't turn up, nothing unusual
    England - 8/10 Far exceeded expectations, and should have won all their games

  • Comment number 35.

    *outplay their team mates even!

  • Comment number 36.

    Not too much to quarrel with apart from Morgan at 8. Denton had a flyer against England but tailed off slightly. Whereas Morgan got better and better. MOTM against Ireland (amazing, considering what the front row did!) and only not MOTM against France because the French broadcasters weren't impartial and chose Harinordoquy.

    Both English props pushing the Welsh props, but can't complain at the Welsh ones nicking it.

    Agree Hogg looks one for the future. Serious pace.

    If I was Irish I'd be thoroughly disappointed. Especially with their dire scrum. Heaslip well below his normal high standards, ditto O'Brien, d'arcy did not a great deal, Sexton overrated. Bowe, Kearney and Ferris excellent as usual.

  • Comment number 37.

    I think you got the backline spot on, maybe Mike Blair would have forced his way in had Scotland given him more game time.

    But in the forwards, I'd have Maestri alongside Richie Gray, Poux deserves at least an honorable mention at loosehead, and Parisse again was surely a class apart at 8. I might have had Ben Morgan too ahead of Denton.

  • Comment number 38.

    As usual too many blinkered flag wavers on here. For those who say it was a TMO away from England and Wales swapping positions and swapping player ratings, I pity your lack of unbiased view. 1st No try end-of, if you don't believe me then look at the record books.
    Secondly. +11 points scored, -13 points conceded, +24 points difference. + 4 tries scored ... I'm not going to even bother to enlighten you on line breaks, yards carried etc ....
    I'll post another where you can consider the Individual Welsh selections in the team above and get prompted to promote your English lovies instead of the Welsh selection ... I'd suggest you not bother and save yourself from embarrassment..

  • Comment number 39.

    Does everyone forget the two lucky charge down trys England had to win the first two games of their tournament. If any team was 'lucky' this year, it was England!

  • Comment number 40.

    I cannot believe all the sour grapes of the English!
    We would have won if we had better referrees!
    Admit it that, believe it or not, the world does not end if England lose, there are teams/countries out their that have good players as well.
    I like the balance of the best 15, yes Scotland have 2 players, but they in my view rightly deserve to be there. Yes you could argue about this player and that player, but i believe that this is a well balanced team.
    Dusautoir, was collosal in the tournament, and arguably in the running for player of the tournament. Likewise, Denton was shortlisted for player of the tournament.

    Wake up England, you do not have the right to win every game/tournament that you enter.

    As an Englishman living outside of Engerland, I used to laugh at the Scots crying English biase, until you live here. The broadcasters (not just BBC) will mention at every opportunity engerland, even if they are not playing. You just have to let it ride over you or you will become bitter and twisted, like a few of bloggers have become.

  • Comment number 41.

    Let's not forget, these are the same pundits who fall over themselves not to give an Englishman the man of the match award if they think they might get away with it. They probably wanted to give man of the match to Ferris against England even though he was comprehensively outplayed in every department by Croft (Lydiate deserves all his plaudits though). Heaslip had a shocker of a Six Nations - Morgan was the stand out number 8.
    I agree the Lions back row selection is going to be a nightmare.

  • Comment number 42.

    I must admit I did wonder half way through the blog what it would have looked like had Wales not had such relativeky good fortune at key moments v. England, for example if the freeze frame of the final 'try' had conclusively shown the ball go down over line (I remain convinced he got it down, by the way. Although there wasn't much evidence - there was some and I always though the benefit of teh doubt went to the attacking side), or the interception try. I thought England grew through the tournament and could be seen as unlucky not to win it, with a solid win vs France and a very good one versus a disappointing Ireland. Not sure that there was much between England and Wales as the tournament went on but the blog reads as though Wales were streets ahead....

  • Comment number 43.

    I'm not saying I agree in all points with the team of the tournament, but if we accept it as the best XV then do a 2nd XV, I think we see where all the English players are. Personally I got about 8 or 9 on a quick run through. All symptomatic of where English rugby is at the moment. Aside from Manu and maybe Croft, not really got any stars, but will always do well as all the players are at least good solid international standard players. As a Scot I am jealous of this, we may have a few rising stars in Gray, Denton and Rennie, but that is all negated in one foul swoop by any of Evans, Lamont, De Luca, Laidlaw, Cusiter, Blair, Hamilton, Cross, Jacobsen.

  • Comment number 44.

    Very readable blog let down by the snub to the Azzurri. Bryn, you could have added your own opinion if you'd simply forgotten to ask the panel to give the Italians a mark out of ten and a sentence - or did you think your readers would be disinterested?

  • Comment number 45.

    I agree with the majority of the posters here - it is a travesty that the side who stormed to a magnificent second place after displays against Scotland and Italy that will live long in the memory of any truly unbiased rugby supporter did not get the 15 places in this six nations team they so richly deserve. Who can ignore the tactical brilliance of relying on charge down tries against the worst teams in the competition? Cunningly tricking the Scots into repeatedly dropping the ball and then launching blisteringly fast counter attacking kicks for touch? And of course magnificently thumping an Irish side who not only had nothing to play for but were obviously just along to join in the Mayor's St Patricks Day party!!

    As for the Welsh, what a bunch of no-hopers who hardly scraped to a victory in the entire tournament ! The whole lot are either hopelessly old and well past their best or a bunch of lucky youngsters who will never amount to anything. Roll on another English Lions tour to the antipodes where our plucky lads can once again demonstrate their real class and world class status amongst the dwarf throwing barmaid fondling and ferry chasing fraternity !

  • Comment number 46.

    As promised for the wilted whinging Red Roses ... please correct me because I am obviously incapable of watching the game and being able to asses what's going on ... Give me some guidance on the following replacements in the "team of the tournament" provided in the article.

    Tuilagi instead of Davies ?
    Strettle rather than North ?
    Dickson/Youngs supplant Phillips ?
    Corbisiero in place of Jenkins ?
    Cole Above Jones ?
    Palmer/Parling Before Evans ?
    Lydiate ... Not going to waste the letters on another alternative.

    I await enlightenment so that my experience of the game may be improved.

    Maybe that'll give you guys something to get your teeth into , no hold on .. that's only .....

  • Comment number 47.

    Andy my point was that the tournament was decided by one game, in which England played far better than Wales, which you yourself do not deny, defended them out of the game and were robbed by Courtney Lawes' inability to hold onto the ball. Great opportunistic play, sure, but England over the 80 were far better and fully deserved a victory. Had they got the victory they deserved, they would have won the Grand Slam and this team would be all England players.

  • Comment number 48.

    This blog is intended to focus on position-based performance. If the pundits were asked to choose the top 15 players of the tournament, irrespective of position, the list would look entirely different. For example, Phillips probably would not make such a list and Morgan probably would.

    The list is not anti-English or pro-Welsh. The success of both teams came from their overall performance, with the Welsh doing just enough to win the games, thanks to fleeting moments of individual brilliance lighting up resilient, often dour, tactical performances.

    I am Welsh and I naturally hope that this team can reach its full potential. I would not have given them 9/10 simply because they did not really dominate in any of the games, with the exception of a brief period against Scotland when they had the numerical advantage of players.

    Italy could have come away with more than the one win, so deserve 5 or 6/10. Both Italy and France need to take a long look at their outside half. In fact, none of the teams seem able to call on an outstanding performer in that position, which could be a major limiting factor for any Lions' success on the next tour. Priestland and Farrell are works in progress, but both are far from the finished product.

    The up-coming Wales tour of Australia will be the true measure of where Northern hemisphere rugby currently stands. I hope it is as sound and encouraging as this blog would seem to conclude.

  • Comment number 49.

    I have to say that I didn't see why people thought so highly of Dan Lydiate (Some folks compared him to Kaino after the RWC and I just didn't think he was in the same class) but after the last few weeks I have to say that he has impressed me as a 6 and he truly is up there with the worlds best.

    As for the team I thought Denton was excellent in Scotland's first couple of games but as with a lot of their team he trailed off towards the end of the tournament and for me Morgan would have been my pick at 8. Other than that you can't really argue with any of the selections as it was a tournament played at an exceptionally high standard for the most part.

    I cant understand why the BBC couldn't find anyone to give Italy a rating out of 10 as they are part of the tournament. Personally I would have them at around the same rating as Scotland, a disappointing tournament overall but with a new coach attempting to bring a new style of play to the team it was probably to be expected. Although I fear until they find a quality half backs combination they will always be competing for the wooden spoon.

  • Comment number 50.

    'I always though the benefit of teh doubt went to the attacking side)'

    I think you might be confusing rugby with cricket, and even then, if footage of a catch is inconclusive, the batsman is given not out (the equivalent of 'no try').

  • Comment number 51.

    #43 frudiro21

    You may be rght, although I also can't hel;p thinking that the expert panel all stick up for their own nation with the exception of Jeremy' they're not as good as we were in my day' Guscott who seems to be very critical of contemporary England sides unless they are steamrollering the opposition like a rose-tinted version of Will Carlings side of the early 1990s....

  • Comment number 52.

    As an Englishman, I think this is a balanced blog - we came 2nd with some luck against Scotland and Italy and only towards the end did we start performing. Manu missed a few games so a hon mention is deserved. For those bleating about the officials (Eng v Wales), if the try had been scored then we would still have needed to convert for a draw and Wales would still be top. I think this was in general a poor 6 nations though with France and Ireland underperforming - England struggling in the first 2 games and Scotland quite poor. It was good to see a full house for Scotland Italy game though.

  • Comment number 53.

    On balance pretty fair selection for TotT. But English fans do have a point about coming 2nd & only having one representative (and that coming from a Welsh fan too!). Personally Morgan has a better shout than Denton - and Faletau with Parisse doing his usual one man army role as well. To be honest I think super-sub Ryan Jones has a better shout at no.8 than Denton. Not that Denton was bad (clearly one of the stand-out players for Scotland) but he's playing in a strong position. Long way to go to the Lions but not sure he'd even make the squad at this stage. No one at 9 or 10 were really dominant - Farrell looks very cool customer but his distribution might let him down in a Lions role. No point in having a backs with the talent of Roberts / Davies / Tuilagi / Bowe etc if it doesn't get that far. Depending on how he, Priestland & Sexton develop will be an interesting battle. Hook might also figure now that he's being given a run in his preferred position. Mike Phillips .... agree he gets no9 spot here but he does drive me nuts! One game a dominant force & the next dawdling around like its a garden party.
    Worst player? - that would cruel so lets say 'och aye nae t'that' or should that be in Italian?
    Most annoying - I know scrum time annoys lots of people but for me Lee Dickson standing at the back of a ruck with ball available pondering .... and pondering .... and pondering ..... what .... zzz ... to ... do ...zzz.... with ....zzz ...it. Phillips nearly as bad!
    Comedy moment - step forward Mr Croft - England's quarterback! but had a good tournament otherwise

  • Comment number 54.

    O and for those of you desperate to see more English in the Team, Just go here :
    http://www.espnscrum.com/six-nations-2012/rugby/story/161382.html

    You'll be slightly disappointed though , there's an Extra Welshman in there as well. Only 2 differences in the chosen team from a completely different and (in my book) more respected Rugby News outlet...... Enjoy

  • Comment number 55.

    Blogs like these are supposed to start an argument, not end one. Bryn wouldn't be doing his job if everyone agreed - and it would be quite dull. Having said that, he seems to have got England supporters wound up quite easily with the inclusion of Denton! Not sure I agree with him on that.

    Just a reminder to all those England supporters who are whining about Refs - disallowed Laidlaw try Scotland v England??? Would have made the score 13-10 to Scotland with 15 mins left and Scotland controlling the game.

    That could have totally changed the tournament for both England and Scotland.

    Forgive me if I struggle to sympathise . . . . . .

  • Comment number 56.

    Wicksy84

    Of course it's anti English, JJOOHHNNAATTHHOONN DDAAVVIIEESS is involved. He is the most biased pundit that there has ever been.

  • Comment number 57.

    What an odd 6N tournament. Many games were very close and could have swung either way, but not as much as Denton suggests (Scotland could have won their first 4 games). Some good rugby and good tries, but many tries the result of missed tackles. Big emphasis upon defence again, with Wales only conceding three tries, and hence the victors. Lancaster has come through well in terms of team spirit, but would there have been such hype if England had lost to Italy and Scotland? (and perhaps France). England need to think long term here.
    Ireland looked knackered on saturday having played 4 successive weekends - this needs to be planned for in forthcoming years.

    From a plus point, many potential Lions contenders, and strength in depth in many positions. The trick is selecting the best team, and not what country they are from. Representation quotas from one country are meaningless when playing the Aussies - they dont care. We need to have players in the team that work effectively on fast pitches.

  • Comment number 58.

    First of all will everyone stop complaining of anti English bias. With Guscott providing his view I really don't think it's going to be that much of a problem. But anyway back to the blog.

    In terms of the best of try I couldn't agree more. The line break and back of the hand offload was as good as I've ever seen, including from new zealand. In terms of the team, I think overall I would agree with it. I'm especially glad to see Evans included in the second row as he had a really good tournament.However I cant see how halfpenny hasn't been included. I thought he was one of Wales stand out players in pretty much every game. Even if he wasn't put in at fullback I'd put him on the wing in place of Bowe. I was also suprised that Morgan wasn't included as he was England's best player IMO.

    In terms of changing it for the lions, apart from the changes I've mentioned above I would think Warbuton has to come in if he's not injured. In the centre I would bring in Tuilagi for Fofana as I didn't think Roberts have a particularly great tournament. And then finally I'd drop Farell and bring in Priestland. From what I saw of Farell although his kicking was excellent I don't think he offers quite as much attacking as Priestland does.

  • Comment number 59.

    Look guys, let's just concede that because England played above expectations, defended well and were unlucky to lose against the Grand Slam Champions and blew away a poor Irish team without BOD or POC, they deserve at LEAST 10 names on the team of the tournament.

    /sarcasm

    In all honesty, I don't know why so many people are getting worked up, you can argue for and against for a few players for a few positions. Front row definitely being one of them and I for one am pleased that (barring injuries) there will be healthy competition for next years Lions as we all know a dominant scrum gives you the best platform for attack. I think Morgan can count himself very unlucky not to be in at No.8, as his carries actually had some end product with that fantastic break and off-load for Foden to score against the French (He is a Scarlets player after all so knows how to off-load in the tackle!). Personally, I agree with J. Davies over Tuilagi, his all round game is a lot more polished and forced some turnovers in critical moments, he may not be as destructive but runs fantastic lines, all match long.

    I think any realistic Welsh supporter will agree we're not the finished article and the upcoming Summer tour and Autumn internationals will be a real test of where we're at. But this goes for England too, it makes me laugh all the people saying "Wait until next years Six Nations!!" Let's see how we fare against the very top teams in the world and then take stock.

    P.S. If England don't give Lancaster and co the job, they're really missing a trick. You just have to look how highly the squad speak of the management, how England actually look like they have a game plan and how committed they are on the park. Great to see.

  • Comment number 60.

    #50 luckless pedestrian

    No. I know that in League the benefit of the doubt goes to the attacking team (referees ask the TV official to spot a reason why they CAN'T award a try'. I thought the same existed in Union but perhaps not. I DID say I though there was an indication that the ball was down but it wasn't conclusive. My query was in that case is the rule based on fact i.e. you can only award a try if you are certain the grounding was good, or balance of probability i.e. I can't be 100% but it looked like it might have been so I'll award the score. I though it was the latter, like league, but maybe not.
    Either way, the difference between an English Slam and a Welsh one was a couple of TV frames and/or about a centimeter of movement with the ball - not something which is obvious from the blog.....

  • Comment number 61.

    It would have been interesting to see whether a bona fide place kicker might have made a substantial difference for Italy; their forwards earn enough penalties in the right areas. Reverting to Mirco Bergamasco's kicking in the latter games did not seem like progress.

  • Comment number 62.

    In these situations pundits often pick players on the basis of one eye-catching moment, and memories are short. Also, choices don't really take conditions into account. England played their first two matches in filthy conditions in which it was hard to stand out. No mention of Parisse is very harsh on a player who always carries his team. One thing is for sure, the Lions will have plenty to think about in the front and back rows, and at full-back. We're a bit thin in terms of world beating quality at 9 and 10 though, and I wonder whether Croft will have to move forward in the lineout. Lydiate is a fine tackler but Croft's pace and line work is exceptional. I also think Ben Morgan will be challenging hard for the no 8 berth by next year. He needs to work on his stamina but that will come. The way he hands off and breaks tackles while retaining the ball is mighty impressive. We'll need that positive intent in the SH. And his bullocking run and perfectly timed offload from the left hand to Ben Foden was up there with North's rightly acclaimed offload to Davies in terms of champagne moments.

  • Comment number 63.

    Dan Cole must be wondering what he needs to do to be recognised.

    A fantastic world cup, awesome 6 nations. I think there is no better no3 in the northern hemisphere at least.

    The England front 3 all played fantastically well and were not bettered in any game, likewise Tom Croft was simply sensational.

    Wales rightly deserve the plaudits and the championship is the winner.

  • Comment number 64.

    Dear oh dear the English fans do like to remind us that they're sore losers by stomping their feet over a blog. I would like to remind those saying that England were the better team and should have won against Wales that sorry you're wrong, you didn't take your chances even when we were down a man and even if that try had been given it would have been a draw at best. So please, be gracious in defeat and look forward to next year where I think it will almost certainly come down to Wales and England again as they seem to have the most exciting and promising teams.

  • Comment number 65.

    Harry 7527 i agree England should have more people in the side than Scotland. i dont think England were poor in the world cup they were poorly managed and had senior players who thought they were better than they were so it is no suprise that england finished second. the fact is they finished second Wales scored more tries than england more points than england and conceded far less. also wales had a man sin binned in every game bar the last one and still won all 5. there is a lot of if's on the page byt the facts are the facts. ic ould say what if wharburon had not ben sent off, what if hartley had been sent off like he should off england may have lost to Ireland and this conversation would be pointless

  • Comment number 66.

    My team for the 5 six nations games are as below. Morgan played exceptionally well but only started a couple of games so cannot be considered in my eyes along with the likes of Rees, Warburton, etc,etc. In reality Italy were awful and need to influence/entice some young Welsh/English fly half to play for Treviso for a few years and thus gain the ability to play (bit like most of the English team). Scotland were good in patches but with 'rose-tinted' Robinson they will never progress. France were France - I think Rafa Benitez should manage them so that he can continue the rotation policy and they over-achieved at the RWC anyway. Ireland badly missed BOD and OConnell and need to find two props and Heaslip has become anonymous. England developed throughout the championship and Hodgson's cut finger "an incident likened to Ali's cut glove" is the real reason the team has blossomed as with him they would have not progressed. Wales were the best team although stoic in their approach at times and Priestland only came good vs France so it is no wonder that the backs struggled at times.

    1. Jenkins
    2. Ford
    3. Jones
    4. Gray
    5. Evans
    6. Lydiate
    7. Dusatoir
    8. Faletau
    9. Phillips
    10. Sexton
    11. North
    12. Roberts
    13. Davies
    14. Cuthbert
    15. Halfpenny / Kearney

  • Comment number 67.

    Great blog! good choices roll on next years lions!

    Comment @ 6, how is it an anti english blog?! The two scots chosen are world class and were world class, may have been watching a different championship to you but Richie Gray was the best 2nd row forward throughout the championship no englishman or "south african" englishman got close to his performance! Denton played all 5 games to a world class level. Ben Morgan didn't simple. and in all other positions players from Ireland Wales and France simply individually outshone the Englishman in those positions. You'll do well to remember how close England came in Edinburgh and Rome to losing. Definitely not a biased blog.

  • Comment number 68.

    My main memory of this 6 nations is that i now can't listen to Jonathan Davies commentate on Wales games. It was embarrassing when he started shouting like a fan and not an unbiased pundit.

    For all the Moore haters out there at least he consistently moans at everyone and is actually probably harsher on England

    JD is simply embarassing to listen to.

    And i agree with the comment on 9/10 for Wales??!! They won fair and square and well done to them but if they are 9/10s of the way to perfection then Wales definition of perfection aint high!!

  • Comment number 69.

    For those Welsh fans telling the English to drop the try decision that wasn't given, could you please stop with the RWC semi-final stuff, gets pretty irritating doesn't it?

  • Comment number 70.

    'the difference between an English Slam and a Welsh one was a couple of TV frames and/or about a centimeter of movement with the ball'

    That's not true. Even if the try had been awarded and converted, the match would have been drawn. The difference would then be between Wales winning the Grand Slam and Wales winning the tournament on points difference.

    I'd hate to see the benefit of the doubt given to the attacking side. Defence is just as vital a part of the game as attack. If you can't see a try being scored, you have to say 'no try.'

  • Comment number 71.

    Pretty decent team of the tourney,but I would certainly have Faletau or even Morgan before Denton. He had a great game against England,but after that he faded away with each passing game. Faletau was a model of consistency,and his work rate,like Lydiates,is phenomenal. And while I think Morgan is bit of a one trick pony,it's quite a forceful one,and he had a big impact against the French and Irish (though the world class welsh backrow kept him extremely quiet).

  • Comment number 72.

    Sergio Parisse surely deserves a mention. In terms of the 6N and contstantly doing great things for the sport of Rugby he's a stand out. But there again he does not apease to the national chuvanistic needs of the pundits and bloggers here. My mate, who's a dentist, thinks Dylan Hartley deserves a mention ... not sure about that!

  • Comment number 73.

    this is the funniest blog to date.

    the bitterness of the english fans is amazing on this blog. What is wrong with you all? It must be like swallowing glass to say that wales were the better team for the lovers of the red rose.
    so pathetic

    Anyway can't wait for the lions next year,can't wait for the summer tour in australia.

    It would appear that it'll mainly be english and welsh boys on the lions tour next year.Scotish rugby is laughable and the irish seem to be on their way down.

  • Comment number 74.

    @Keep_er_lit, more successful than the England-heavy 2005 Lions...

    Probably the best "team of the tournament" selection I've seen. Arguably more England players deserve to be included (Cole, Corbisiero, Croft, Morgan) but are just edged out. England fans here seem to be suffering from a recency effect, yes England were immense in their last two games but dire in their first two.

  • Comment number 75.

    Morgan, Faletau and Parisse would get my vote ahead of Denton, with Morgan edging it for me. No complaints with Richie Gray. Mike Phillips' service was so slow it was painful he wouldn't even get my selection for Wales. Tualagi was excellent but Forfana was better. Warburton was excellent (when he played) but doesn't warrant selection in a team of the tournament as Dusautoir played consistently well over the 5 games. Any of the Irish back row could have been included along with Ross Rennie. I don't believe this blog is anti English the two Scottish boys selected here would make any England team. All the debate just shows what potential we have for a great Lions side. As for a bias towards the Welsh..well they won more games conceded fewest tries and had the best +/- figures so they surely must feature more than any other nation.

  • Comment number 76.

    What about marks for the refs? Some poor decisions and some poor performances - I think the touch judge role needs to be more influential (after all, they are international refs themselves!) and the attacking teams should be getting the put in at the breakdowns.
    For this tournament it was Wales who were building a reputation and after winning in Ireland, it was evident that their opponents tactics were built around defence, it's a big difference going into a game as strong favourites (which they were after Dublin) and going in as underdogs. Scotland need to develop there own style rather than trying to play like their opposition and England will need to press on with a certain expectation of a nation. Good tournament and fair 6 nations XV.

  • Comment number 77.

    As a welshman I expected Morgan to be in the starting 11 but as for the moaning about an anti-english bias is ridiculous! At number 13 Jonathan Davies played out of his skin scoring crucial tries, and was part of a grand slam winning team how can you leave him out? As for those saying wales didn't play well in the tournament I agree wales played at perhaps 75% of there capability within that tournament yet still won the grand slam. The future is very bright for Welsh rugby

  • Comment number 78.

    On first glance it is understandable why English fans are getting a bit heated over the very simple fact Scotland have more places in the 15 than the team that finished second.
    As stated above there were a lot of close and to be honest very scrappy matches. In that regard the choices for individual positions will reflect that.

    It was a poor championship overall and Wales will be remembered as one of the worst Grand Slam teams for the past few decades. Not their fault as they can only beat what is in front of them.

  • Comment number 79.

    Surely the lack of England players despite reaching second is simply a mark of them gelling well as a team, without any massive stars? This is backed up by the consistency of selection, with a 1st XV pretty much only changed by injury.

    Credit as well for Stuart Lancaster, far exceeded expectations.

  • Comment number 80.

    Bryn - great blog. completely biased. surprised that you mentioned anyone else but Wales in the entire piece. Goes to show what rose-tinted specs do.
    See you at RWC 2015 when Wales get knocked out in the pool matches and England reach the final. Luckily for you, by then everyone will have forgotten what a complete load of drivel this blog is.

  • Comment number 81.

    11. At 08:38 20th Mar 2012, chrisTHE wrote:
    Change Fofana for Jamie Roberts, Dusautoir for Warburton, and Denton for Heaslip and you got yourself a Lions team...

    Two Frenchmen in the Lions team? Wash your mouth out.

  • Comment number 82.

    You would never have guessed the artical was written by a W*lshman. The bias is unreal! Morgan clearly the best 8 in the tournament, and Tuilagi was nailed on in my view! I wonder what the team would look like if it was written by someone from the 5 other nations, probably 5 or 6 changes!

  • Comment number 83.

    Why no mention of Toby Faletau at No. 8. This guy never put a foot wrong in the 6N tournament. He can make the hard yards, break the gain line with his pace and defends like a trojan. He never lost one ball in a contact situation and never looked like he would. I have watched Morgan for the Scarlets and England and have seen him knock on, lose or even drop the ball (as v Ireland) quite often when going into contact. Is this what you would want from a Lions No. 8. ? I don't think so.
    Has to be Toby "the silent assasin" Faletau at No.8 for me in both the 6N XV and future Lions Team.

  • Comment number 84.

    It was "try or no try" situation which means the benefit is given to the defender. The phrasing question is up to the referee you can give benefit to the attacker with the question "any reason I can't award the try". As the ref hadn't seen it grounded he's going to ask "try or no try" if he had seen it grounded it would of been the other round. Initial replays weren't clear if it had been grounded so the TMO was well within rights to say no try. I did think I saw the ball grounded in those replays but could see why it wasn't given. However subsequent replays clearly showed it grounded so it was the wrong decision (you can see why he came to it though). Difficult conversion though...that was the difference though and would of effected the next two games.

    As for the slight backlash from England fans I think it's partially because were told Wales are amazing and they are not. The 2003 Grand Slam side did so with a +127 point difference and their closest game was by 8 points the rest over 14. That's a great a performance to win a Grand Slam not what Wales did. Deserved champions? Yup but not great.

  • Comment number 85.

    The team was always going to reflect the overall winners so I fully understand the amount of Welsh present. I'm going to slightly ignore the fact that some players missed matches and go with the performances given in what they played.
    15. Kearney 14. Cuthbert 13. Tuilagi 12. Fofana 11. North 10. Farrell 9. Phillips. 8. Morgan 7. Warburton 6. Lydiate 5. o'Connell 4. Gray 3. Cole 2. Best 1. Corbisiero.

    Only one change need for the lions for me.

  • Comment number 86.

    Mostly agree with selections, but the one i categorically disagree with is the no.8 selection. David Denton has been an amazing find for scotland(i'm scottish) and cant wait to see what he can do in the future. He had a great tournament, but surely Sergio Parisse at no. 8? Another storming six nations from the Italian captain, christ i wish he was scottish, guy is tower of strength for the italians.

  • Comment number 87.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 88.

    It's absolutely hilarious that people are saying if for one 50-50 reffing decision England and Wales would have swapped places. Firstly, for another 50-50 reffing decision Scotland would have beaten England and secondly England still would not have beaten Wales, the score would have been 17-19 with a very difficult kick to be taken by a player who had just come on the pitch. Even for the draw Wales would have won the tournament on points difference! Face it, you lost, try again next year...

  • Comment number 89.

    I do not see what all the debate is about. If a team was selected from English, French, Scotish and Ireland players to play against Wales then Wales would win. Therefore the starting fifteen should all be welsh.

  • Comment number 90.

    The welsh really showed their class this tornament, imagine that team for the Lions tour, with people like croft, tualagi, foden, etc on the bench.

  • Comment number 91.

    Pretty fair blog, wales were he best team consistency wise through the tournement although I don't buy into them being as great as a few talk them up to be yet. England aren't far behind but if your selecting a team of teh tournement its easy to forget how far performance wise England grew through it and over the whole thing not many england boys would make a combined side.

    Overall fro teh lions in particular it looks very very promising, in the pack you have 2 great front rows in England and Wales, some outstanding locks in Gray, POC, AWJ, Lawes, Evans (who looks a different guy to before playing a strong 80) and I'd add Parling and Botha into the mix with another 12 months perhaps both were excellent in different ways (Parling in teh lineout and Botha in workrate although he needs to calm it a little and catch!).

    As for the backrow on hard Aussie pitches there are some awseome options in no particular order Warburton, Lydiate, Croft, Morgan, Heaslip, SOB, Ferris, Denton, Robshaw, Faletau and although he missed the tournement Woods.

    Backs wise again you've got the great options across the whole line with plenty of pwoer, pace and craft I eman you could have (again in no order):

    Youngs, Sexton, Bowe, Roberts, Tuilagi, North, Foden
    Phillips, Farrell, Ashton, Davies, BOD, Cuthbert, Halfpenny
    Blair, Preistland, Evans, Barratt, Earls, L Jones (looked a real prospect), Kearney

    i'll admit the last one is slightly less inspiring but there are players in it who add a huge amount to there respective teams, I mean Barratt for instance is just teh sort of guy you want to play alongside as his workrate in tackling, clearing out and marshalling the line is huge and gives more freedom to those around him.

    Add that its still missing out quite a few decent players I mean Hook springs to mind for a start and it could look quite good I reckon. On thats front I'm hopeful as well as Engaldn and wales have very youngs teams, Scotlands best players are young and irelands guys are pretty much in or around there prime as well.

  • Comment number 92.

    Re the England Wales game of course there were a couple of decisions that if they went the other way it would have been different but there nearly always is in every game! The difference on that day to me was the replacements. England were just about shading it as you would expect from the home team but once the subs came on I could see always see us losing it.

  • Comment number 93.

    What's with all the anti English  accusations flying about. I think JD's mark of 9 is a little flattering however one post suggests England were a 8 and by far the best team? Short memory me thinks cause I remember watching the Italy v England! Come the Lions test team there will be more than 1 Englishman and probably ones most of you are not expecting. As for people saying how comes Scotland have 2 players when they got the wooden spoon, shows how little you know about rugby. Just because the rest of the Scottish team is under performing doesn't mean they can't have 2 outstanding players, however I fail to see how Parisse wouldn't take the 8 shirt for any of the 6 nations teams as he is a solid performer every game even when not a 100% fit

  • Comment number 94.

    Sim, I don't know about 1 50-50 decision. The obvious tmo call at the end was the big talking point but wasn't there a 20 yard knock on which helped Wales to territory and possession when they had just gone down to 10 men and also a possible yellow card when North slapped the ball out of Strettles reach?

    Again you get these decisions in every game including the traditional tossing of the coin to decide who gets to win the scrum! The Wales squad is at least two steps ahead of England at the moment but the 1st teams are pretty similar.

  • Comment number 95.

    As a Wales fan I agree that 9/10 was too high. I think defensively that maybe 9 is fair, but as has been said, England and France (and Italy to an extent) tied down their offense quite successfully. Hopefully they can find a bit more creativity, which they will probably need to beat Australia in the summer.

    England did improve throughout, and played well in the last three matches (admittedly I didn't get to see most of England vs Ireland, but have been informed of their scrum's dominance!). However, they ran very close to losing both to Italy and Scotland - though fair play, in the end they gutted it out. I see them improving, but don't really fancy their chances against South Africa, who they will struggle to bully with their forwards.

    I actually think Richie Gray deserves his place, people say he outshone a poor Scotland team - until Scotland's last two games they competed well, and should have closed a game or two out. They suffered from ill discipline, especially against Wales. Denton was very good against England, but do agree that he probably wasn't the most consistently good number eight (Parisse, Morgan).

    Suffice it to say that I am really looking forward to the Lions Tour 2013! With these players you have to think we can beat the Aussies. The Lions look set to have some great contests for jerserys - their back row should be immense! They have too many good players, how can you leave out Lydiate? But saying that Ferris is such a good player, and Croft is quick, very good in the lineout and we saw him get a couple of tries on the last tour! Shame about Warburton's injuries, but what has really impressed me about Wales is their strength in depth this tournament.

    Oh, and finally, France were very negative and disappointing. I remember watching games where the final score was 31-32 between Wales and France (or thereabouts) - don't get me wrong, at some stages the defence was non-existent - whereas now their defence seems to be all that's really working.

  • Comment number 96.

    > SuperLeedsSuperClayton15 @ 82.

    Helps your understanding if you read the article.

    Team Chosen by Andy Nichol, Keith Wood, Jeremy Guscott and Jonthan Davies ... Their Choices , Bryn merely collated and summed it up ....

    If you would Pick Manu before JD - I suppose you gotta have an opinion but glad you're not involved in selection for any team I follow or ever played in....

  • Comment number 97.

    As an England fan, but a rugby supporter, I am critical of those who see this team of the tournament as some sort of anti-English conspiracy. I think a Lions squad of 35 to 40 players, selected now, would contain a good English representation but the stand-out players of the 6-Nations,(and what a wonderful competition it proved to be), were pretty much as the blog indicated. England's relative success wasn't a fluke, although four of their games could easily have had a different result. The positives for England are more in their great promise than in their real current strength, particularly compared with Wales. The big thing for me is the apparently massive improvement of northern hemisphere rugby compared with a year ago, and long may it continue. But no mistake, it is Wales who are the vanguard!

  • Comment number 98.

    If you hadn't gathered I'm quite excited about the future of NH rugby in a way I haven't been for a while! Rather than biockering we should just enjoy it I reckon?

  • Comment number 99.

    Good selection, pretty much spot on, of course there were many 8s who played well so always a bit of debate there.

    I just feel like the real problem with international form/picking lions teams etc. is that we don't get to see a huge amount of rugby. Take Croft for example, he's had a quiet couple of years at international level really, he has two good games and is proclaimed as England's only world class star etc. It's also funny that his form is always analysed as if he is a passive factor - eg 'england finally utilised croft's potential', 'england need to make the most out of croft' etc.

    Same goes for Lancaster's 'job trial'. Trinh-duc nails the drop or few things go differently agaisnt Italy/Scotland and things look very different. I know that's alot of ifs and buts, but the point is that international rugby is sometimes pretty hard to predict/analyse, not like the premiership say, where you see fluctuations even out after many weeks, and can judge a much larger sample bias.

  • Comment number 100.

    Generally good article but a little disrespectful not to bother to rate Italy. Furthermore, Parisse was the best 8 in the tournament - he would be a world superstar if he was in one of the major teams.

 

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