Six Nations 2014: Jonathan Davies's Team of the Tournament

 

It has been a fantastic Six Nations and one that had a fairytale ending as Ireland handed Brian O'Driscoll the perfect retirement present by beating France to win the title.

The nail-biting victory in Paris meant Ireland took the championship ahead of England on points difference.

The two teams have been the form sides in the competition and although a few French and Welsh players showed well, it is the top two who naturally provide the bulk of my Team of the Tournament for 2014.

FULL-BACK - MIKE BROWN (England)

Mike Brown

It's impossible to look past England full-back Brown for the best 15 in the tournament. You don't need to see the stats - excellent though they were - to know that his all-round game was good. He was solid in defence and under the high ball and his attacking threat was shown by his two tries on Sunday. His confidence has really improved and the Harlequin was surely the player of the tournament.

Did you know: He was the joint top try scorer with Johnny Sexton (four) and out on his own for clean breaks (10), defenders beaten (25) and metres gained (543m).

RIGHT WING - ANDREW TRIMBLE (Ireland)

Andrew Trimble

After playing only one Test in the previous 18 months the Ulster wing has really shone in the 2014 Six Nations, scoring three tries and proving a real menace with ball in hand. The 29-year-old went hunting for work in attack, was physical in defence, and ensured Ireland profited from the work of their excellent pack.

Did you know: Trimble had only managed three tries in his previous 21 Six Nations games before this season, and endured a barren run of 20 Tests between the 2007 and 2011 World Cups without a try. But three tries in this Six Nations put him joint-second on the scoring list.

OUTSIDE CENTRE - BRIAN O'DRISCOLL (Ireland)

Brian O'Driscoll

We bade farewell to one of the greats in style as Ireland won the title, and O'Driscoll was right at the heart of the Irish effort throughout the tournament. England's Luther Burrell had a fine Championship but, although O'Driscoll might lack the pace of yesteryear, his commitment, skill and will to win gave Ireland the courage to get over the line. The 35-year-old rolled back the years on his farewell in Dublin with a masterclass and was still there putting his body on the line at the final whistle in Paris on Saturday. Iconic.

Did you know: Retires after setting the Test caps record at 141 (133 for Ireland and eight for Lions).

INSIDE CENTRE - JAMIE ROBERTS (Wales)

Jamie Roberts

Roberts played very well this year and although Ireland's Gordon D'Arcy impressed alongside O'Driscoll - he was a tackling machine on Saturday against France - it is the powerful Wales man who is my choice. Wales may have struggled to get their power game going but that was not the fault of Roberts, who carried time and again into the heart of the opposition throughout the Championship to try and get Wales on the front foot.

Did you know? Prior to his two tries against Scotland, Roberts had only scored one try in his previous 30 Six Nations matches, against Italy in Cardiff in 2012.

LEFT WING - GEORGE NORTH (Wales)

George North

It was not the happiest of tournaments for defending champions Wales but no blame can be attached to North. The 21-year-old wing, who has already scored 20 Test tries, was a threat every time he received the ball and he relished the chance to cut loose against Scotland with a brace of tries on Saturday while making 124m with the ball in hand. The 6ft 4in powerhouse also did a good job filling in at centre against France and edges out Yoann Huget, one of the few French players to pose a consistent threat in 2014.

Did you know: Made seven clean breaks during the Championship, second only to Brown, scored three tries and was equal third in numbers of defenders beaten with 16.

FLY-HALF - JOHNNY SEXTON (Ireland)

Jonny Sexton

England's Owen Farrell had a very good tournament and Dan Biggar played well for Wales when he came in, but Sexton was immense for Ireland. His all-round game management and decision making were good and although his goalkicking was not quite in the same class as Farrell, Sexton's running game set him apart from the England man. The Racing Metro 10 scored two try doubles, including a crucial brace in the win over France.

Did you know? He was the leading points scorer, with 66, and the joint leading try scorer with Brown.

SCRUM-HALF - DANNY CARE (England)

Danny Care

It's got to be the England number nine - he was exceptional. He played with real confidence and after being out of favour he really came back into the side with a bang. His speed at getting the ball away from the breakdown was integral to England's high-tempo game and he was a constant threat around the fringes with his speed off the mark. He also used the tap penalty to great effect, as the Welsh would testify, and popped over two drop-goals.

Did you know? This is the only the third time in Care's Test career he has started five games in a row. The first was after his full debut in 2008, and the most he has started was six in a row, including the 2010 Six Nations. Of his 47 caps, he has started 24 Tests, and won 23 as a replacement.

LOOSE-HEAD PROP - CIAN HEALY (Ireland)

Cian Healy

Successful teams are built from the front and Healy and fellow Ireland front rowers Rory Best and Mike Ross all had fine tournaments. Healy was very good in the scrum and his mobility around the field and ball carrying were a major weapon in the Irish armoury. He blotted his copybook with a stupid dive over a ruck against France but was otherwise superb, and edges out England's Joe Marler.

Did you know? Healy's Twitter handle @ProperChurch stems from this other life as a DJ, calling himself DJ Church. He has twice performed with his partner DJ Gordo at the Oxegen festival in County Kildare, Ireland, which also hosted bands such as Foo Fighters, Coldplay and Arcade Fire.

HOOKER - DYLAN HARTLEY (England)

England hooker Dylan Hartley

The England hooker's line-out throwing was immaculate during the tournament as he combined beautifully with Northampton team-mates Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood. Hartley was always at the heart of the action, tackling and carrying aggressively, and he is one of the real on-field leaders for England. Also managed to maintain his discipline, bar one penalty flurry against Wales.

Did you know? Lost only two out of 55 line-out throws.

TIGHT-HEAD PROP - MIKE ROSS (Ireland)

Mike Ross

If successful teams start up front, then tight-heads are the absolute cornerstone. Ross had a fine tournament at the heart of the Ireland scrum, which had the best success rate in the tournament, winning 89% of their put-ins. Immovable throughout the tournament, the 34-year-old may not have the pyrotechnic carrying game of many modern props, but he takes some shifting and is worth his weight in gold to the Irish.

Did you know? After making his Six Nations debut as a 31-year-old in 2011, Ross has started every one of Ireland's 20 games in the tournament since.

SECOND ROW - JOE LAUNCHBURY (England)

Joe Launchbury

The 22-year-old Wasps forward won't want to relive the pass that led to Leonardo Sarto's interception try for Italy on Saturday, but it was a rare error from a fine player. He's produced some mammoth defensive performances this Championship, frequently figuring among England's highest tacklers, and is growing in stature all the time. Formed a superb, balanced partnership in the England second row with Courtney Lawes.

Did you now? Was second equal in number of turnovers won in the tournament with six.

SECOND ROW - COURTNEY LAWES (England)

Courtney Lawes

Supreme throughout. The lock, who turned 25 during the tournament, has assumed the responsibility of calling the line-out and it worked perfectly for England this year. His defence has been superb - one tackle on Rhys Priestland yards behind the gainline stands out - and the 6ft 7in forward also carried well. A really top class player who consistently delivered. Ireland's Paul O'Connell was his usual influential self but just misses out to the England duo.

Did you know? Lawes won the most line-outs with 28 and also had the most line-out steals with six.

BLIND-SIDE FLANKER - PETER O'MAHONY (Ireland)

Ireland flanker Peter O'Mahony

Despite the claims of Wales' Dan Lydiate (who successfully made 66 tackles out of 66) O'Mahony's work at the breakdown, allied to his drive and ferocious workrate, earns him the six shirt for 2014. The Munster captain is the latest combative forward to roll off the province's seemingly never-ending production line and was at the centre of the Irish effort that took them to the title.

Did you know? O'Mahony won the most turnovers - seven - despite missing one game through injury.

OPEN-SIDE FLANKER - CHRIS ROBSHAW (England)

Chris Robshaw

The England captain continues to improve as a rugby player, as shown by his lovely pass to help set up Care's try against Ireland, but the key to Robshaw is his work rate. He never stops running and fighting and is always in the thick of the action. He is the ultimate leader from the front and, despite the claims of Chris Henry and Sam Warburton, the outstanding seven this year.

Did you know? Played every minute of every game and was equal second in number of tackles with 66.

NUMBER EIGHT - JAMIE HEASLIP (Ireland)

Jamie Heaslip

With Ireland stripped of the ball carrying power of injured flanker Sean O'Brien they needed the Leinster number eight to step up and get them on the front foot, and he did that in spades. Heaslip carried with pace and power and did so time and time again, playing every minute of every game as he helped drive Ireland to the title. Billy Vunipola played well for England before injury ended his tournament but Heaslip earns my vote.

Did you know? Heaslip had the most carries in the tournament with 65.

Jonathan Davies was talking to BBC Sport's James Standley.