Jeremy Guscott's home nations and Rugby Championship XVs

By Jeremy GuscottRugby union analyst, BBC Sport
Jeremy Guscott's form XV for the home nations from the autumn Tests

Once again the four Rugby Championship teams have been and gone but this time they did not have it all their own way on their annual visit to the British Isles as it ended five wins apiece from the 10 Tests.

Admittedly, the Pumas are not part of rugby union's traditional southern hemisphere big three, and the incomparable All Blacks sailed through their Tests unbeaten, but even discounting the Scottish win over Argentina the matches against the three giants from the south only ended 5-4 to the visitors.

Former England and Lions great Jeremy Guscott has been out and about for the BBC during November and here he selects a XV for both the home nations and the Rugby Championship sides from the autumn Tests - you can join in the debate below.

Home nations XV (see graphic above)

Full-back (15): Rob Kearney - Ireland

Rob Kearney

He is almost like Australia's Israel Folau in his soaring catches under the high ball. The 60-Test Leinster man has a very good and varied kicking game - he can smash it downfield and also hang it high and regain possession, making big yards for his team. He's a great attacking player too.

Stat attack: Made a team-high 22 carries this autumn, averaging 6.9 metres over the gainline per carry and beating six defenders in the process, all this from only 150 minutes of action.

Wing (14): Tommy Bowe - Ireland

Tommy Bowe

The 61-Test veteran just keeps scoring tries - he's an out and out try scorer. He is good in defence and is very solid - he's always in the right place at the right time, much like a goal-poaching centre-forward in football.

Stat attack: Bowe made 107 metres in Ireland's win over Australia, a match-high figure, scoring a try and completing five out of five tackles too. Bowe's average gain rate of 10.3 metres per carry this autumn is the third best of any player in action to make 10 or more carries.

Outside-centre (13): Brad Barritt - England

Brad Barritt

The Saracens man is my unsung hero. You know what you're going to get from his every time - he's going to carry hard to the gainline and he's going to flatten anything that comes in front of him. His commitment is unquestionable - he gives you his all - and with Manu Tuilagi injured and no other outstanding candidates, he deserves his place.

Stat attack: Made more tackles (49) than any other back this autumn, missing only three in the process. Won three turnovers and didn't concede a single one - no other back played 200+ minutes without conceding at least one turnover.

Inside centre (12): Jamie Roberts - Wales

Jamie Roberts

He came into the November Tests under a lot of pressure because he's not always been the most consistent but he put his hand up for Wales. He was carrying a bit of injury initially but got better and better with every match. He had a big game in the narrow loss to the All Blacks and his carrying over the gainline against South Africa helped them win the game.

Stat attack: Made the second most tackles of any back this autumn (42 out of 44), as well as beating more defenders (11) than any other centre from the home nations.

Wing (11): Jonny May - England

Jonny May

The Gloucester flyer has now realised just how quick he is and his sheer blistering pace means he's a threat every time he's passed the ball. If he gets on the outside he is devastating, as New Zealand's Conrad Smith and Israel Dagg saw at close quarters in their win over England when he scored a stunning try. May could be a special player but the 24-year-old needs to work on taking the high ball. Give him space though, and he's as quick as you'll see.

Stat attack: Crossed for three tries this autumn as well as making an average gain of 7.5 metres, the best rate of any England player (with five or more carries).

Fly-half (10): Johnny Sexton - Ireland

Johnny Sexton

The Racing Metro man was so precise in everything he did as Ireland won all three of their Tests. His kicking was as good as it can get - he targeted the full-back man and ball with the chaser arriving at the same time as the kick and challenging for possession. He also made quite a few breaks and has really become a top player. Wales' Dan Biggar is also a stand-out 10 while England's George Ford didn't get enough time to seriously challenge.

Stat attack: Made 91 metres from nine carries in his two appearances this autumn, making the best average gain of any fly-half in action. He also landed 12 of his 13 shots at goal.

Scrum-half (9): Conor Murray - Ireland

Conor Murray

Box kicking is so important for a scrum-half because under pressure you need a nine that can execute the exit strategy and turn it into an attacking tactic, and I don't think there's another nine as good as the Munster man at kicking it high and long. He also gets to breakdowns well and his passing his good too.

Stat attack: Completed 62 out of 64 passes against Australia and 56 from 56 against South Africa.

Number eight (8): Ben Morgan - England

Ben Morgan

We always knew Morgan could carry the ball and take defenders with him, but the Gloucester player's defence is better now. The 18st 3lb powerhouse is using his full force and power to really attack hard and punish defenders with his physicality, as he demonstrated with his double against Australia.

Stat attack: Was the only forward to cross the whitewash three times this autumn. He also had a 92% tackle success rate and no England forward beat more defenders (five) than him.

Open-side flanker (7): Chris Robshaw - England

Chris Robshaw

Because of his high work-rate his contribution is always very consistent. The England captain carries, passes, tackles and leads from the front. The 28-year-old does not turn over as much ball as All Blacks great Richie McCaw, but his contribution is high.

Stat attack: Made a team-high 64 tackles this autumn, missing only four. He also won a team-high four turnovers.

Blind-side flanker (6): Peter O'Mahony - Ireland

Peter O'Mahony

The Munster captain is a real dog at six and a genuine nuisance. He is a gnarled, hard, uncompromising player and slows down so much opposition ball. He is someone you want on your side and don't like playing against, a real battler.

Stat attack: Made a game-high 17 out of 18 tackles against Australia and also chipped in with three turnovers won in his combined 150 minutes of action this autumn.

Second row (5): Alun Wyn Jones - Wales

Alun Wyn Jones

He has upped his game in terms of involvement and is now a very good player who delivers consistently. He carries and tackles well and had a great autumn to see off the challenges of Ireland's Paul O'Connell and Scotland's Gray brothers - he just nicked it for me.

Stat attack: Won 13 line-outs including one steal this autumn, while his try against Australia was his first for Wales since the 2011 World Cup.

Second row (4): David Attwood - England

David Attwood

The Bath man has been consistently good in the England engine room for the whole of the November Tests, although Courtney Lawes was brilliant in the last game. Attwood came in under pressure - he only started because of Joe Launchbury's absence - but stepped in seamlessly. The 6ft 7in lock is another of the guys who's realised he had to get leaner - and he's still 18st 10lb - in order to get involved in the game more.

Stat attack: Made the second most tackles by a lock this autumn (40 out of 45) and also had the best average gain rate of any lock to make more than one carry (4.3 metres per carry).

Tight-head prop (3): Samson Lee - Wales

Samson Lee

The youngster - he only turned 22 on Sunday - scrummages like Samson pre-haircut and has done incredibly well. It would have been very difficult for a young man coming into a vital position like tight-head prop, even more so with all the focus of having taken over from Adam Jones, but he performed admirably and was a rock for the Wales scrum.

Stat attack: Played more minutes than any other prop this autumn but did not concede a single penalty.

Hooker (2): Ross Ford - Scotland

Ross Ford

He's another tight-five forward who's lost a bit of weight and got better as a result. It's hard to know what's caused him to re-evaluate but he'd done it and is reaping the benefits. His line-out throwing was good and he was lively around the field. Wales' Richard Hibbard and England's Dylan Hartley were close, but the former doesn't pass enough and the latter is prone to minor aberrations, shall we say, as we saw with the yellow card against South Africa.

Stat attack: Beat more defenders (six) than any other hooker this autumn and also had the best line-out success rate (97%) of any player to throw into more than 10 line-outs (32 from 33).

Loose-head prop (1): Alasdair Dickinson - Scotland

Alasdair Dickinson

This is not my area of expertise but the Scot had great stats through the autumn and the Scottish scrum held up well . Props get penalised quite heavily by referees and he avoided that and also got his hands on the ball a few times, which is always good to see from a prop.

Stat attack: Made 17 carries this autumn, only two props made more, both of whom played four games to Dickinson's three. Of props, only James Slipper (five) beat more defenders than him (three).

Jerry's marks out of 10 for each of the four home unions

England: 7

Wales: 7

Ireland: 8.5

Scotland: 7.5 for their improvement

Rugby Championship XV

Jeremy Guscott's form XV for the Rugby Championship teams from the autumn Tests

Full-back (15): Israel Folau - Australia

Israel Folau

There's a lot of competition for this shirt but the Wallaby full-back is an attacking force of nature. He's an incredible athlete who always manages to slip the first tackle and he's only been playing Test rugby for 18 months. The 25-year-old is wonderful under the high ball and a great talent who is a pleasure to watch.

Stat attack: Was the top metre maker this autumn (405); also making the most carries (53) and most offloads (11).

Wing (14): Julian Savea - New Zealand

Julian Savea

The All Blacks winger, 24, is a try scoring machine. For a big man - 6ft 4in and 17st - he is rapid but he is also very good at linking with his three-quarters. He doesn't just play for himself but adheres to the All Blacks' way, bringing other players into the game. His kicking is improving too.

Stat attack: Beat 11 defenders in 185 minutes of action (only France's Scott Spedding had a better rate with 15 in 240 minutes).

Outside centre (13): Tevita Kuridrani - Australia

Tevita Kuridrani

Centres these days are about the gainline but the 6ft 5in Wallaby is about more than just getting go-forward for his team. The 23-year-old makes clean breaks, scores tries and is a real handful - a very exciting attacking talent.

Stat attack: Completed 17 of the 18 tackles he had to make in his 205 minutes of game time.

Inside centre (12): Jean de Villiers - South Africa

Jean de Villiers with his golden cap marking his 100th Test

It's such a shame he got injured against Wales on Saturday because he's not only a great player and a great general, but a real gentleman as well who is liked by everybody. The 33-year-old Springbok captain always carries well, gets to the gainline and links well with the forwards and backs.

Stat attack: Notched up his 100th start for the Springboks this autumn, only two retired players (Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and France's Philippe Sella) have won more Test caps as a centre than him.

Wing (11): Ben Smith - New Zealand

Ben Smith

This guy can play any number of positions - and was at full-back against Scotland and Wales - because he is so multi-talented, but he is a top class winger. He passes superbly, is fearless under the high ball, scores tries, makes his tackles and has pace - the 28-year-old does everything a three-quarter needs to do.

Stat attack: Beat seven defenders in his three appearances this autumn, only Savea (11) beat more for the All Blacks.

Fly-half (10): Bernard Foley - Australia

Bernard Foley

You need a player to release this talented backline and Foley is the consummate 10. The 25-year-old has only played 18 Tests but he is a real general who knows when to kick, when to pass - and whether to go short or go wide - and is very reliable with the boot, keeping the score ticking over.

Stat attack: Was the top points scorer this autumn, notching up 57 in 269 minutes of action, including two tries.

Scrum-half (9): Aaron Smith - New Zealand

Aaron Smith

He showed again this autumn what a fine player he is. All I want from a nine is someone who can get to every ruck and spin the ball out, and the 5ft 7in All Black can do that as well as anyone, but he also has a great box kick and a great break from the breakdown. He just plays the game right.

Stat attack: Completed four out of four tackles, made six carries for 27 metres and completed 64 out of 66 passes in his 72 minutes against Wales.

Number eight (8): Kieran Read - New Zealand

Kieran Read

Like all these players he is incredibly gifted but he stands out because he is more complete than a forward is expected to be. He does all the things he's supposed to do - he can be a dogged grafter when the team needs it - but then he can play out in the backline and there's no difference between him and the backs.

Stat attack: Completed 95% of his tackles in his two appearances this autumn, winning four turnovers and eight line-outs in those 160 minutes as well.

Open-side flanker (7): Richie McCaw - New Zealand:

Richie McCaw

A month away from his 34th birthday, the All Blacks captain keeps defying the ageing process. Normally as a player when you get older the brain thinks you can still do it but the body says no - but McCaw's head and body are both still there. He's still there turning over ball like a 20-something and carrying in a fashion that sets him part from other sevens.

Stat attack: Was one of only two All Blacks to play all 240 minutes of their three games this autumn, winning a team-joint-high four turnovers and making more carries than any other Kiwi forward (33).

Blind-side flanker (6): Jerome Kaino - New Zealand

Jerome Kaino

I like a grafting six who does the nitty-gritty that enables a team to play well, and Kaino fits the bill to perfection. He is big - 6ft 5in and 17st 4lb - but again is very athletic. He is well built and powerful and fits perfectly into that New Zealand back row - as a unit they are brilliant.

Stat attack: His try against Wales was his first against a top-tier nation since crossing against France in Marseille in 2009.

Second row (5): Eben Etzebeth - South Africa

Eben Etzebeth

For a young man - he has just turned 23 - he plays a very intelligent game, much like veteran Springboks second row Victor Matfield. The difference is that Etzebeth is that in addition to being a line-out expert he is also a bit of an enforcer. The 6ft 8in, 18st 8lb lock does more than he's supposed to as a giant, his ability around the field is superb.

Stat attack: Stole more opposition line-outs (five) than any other southern hemisphere player this autumn and missed just one of 24 tackles that came his way.

Second row (4): Brodie Retallick - New Zealand

Brodie Retallick

What I really like about the World Rugby player of the year is that he looks like an ordinary man - a very big one admittedly - but he doesn't look like he spends a lot of time in the gym. The biggest requirement for a rugby player is to understand the game and despite being a second row he is quite often used as first or second receiver in the backline, which is phenomenal for a lock.

Stat attack: Managed a team-high two line-out steals in his 120 minutes of action, as well as completing 94% of the 17 tackles he had to make.

Tight-head prop (3): - Owen Franks - New Zealand

Owen Franks

As mentioned before, this is not my area of expertise but his stats are good and helped lay the foundations for this world champions. He holds up the scrum and, again like his fellow All Blacks forwards, can hammer it up but can also pass as well. He's a bit different to the normal prop.

Stat attack: Has played 13 Tests in 2014, of all props only the Australian duo of Sekope Kepu and James Slipper have played more (14 each).

Hooker (2): Adriaan Strauss - South Africa

Adriaan Strauss

The Springboks hooker is technically brilliant. The South Africa line-out is one of the best, if not the best in the world. Strauss faces huge competition from Bismarck du Plessis for the South Africa number two shirt but holds his own and is a bit of a raging bull around the park - he's a very powerful, strong runner.

Stat attack: Made the most carries (23) of any southern hemisphere hooker this autumn, as well as completing 100% of this tackles and hitting his man with 92% (24 from 26) of his line-out throws. He also won three turnovers.

Loose-head prop (1): Marcos Ayerza - Argentina

Marcos Ayerza

You need someone hard and tough in the scrum who won't take a backward step, and the Pumas' Leicester prop is just the ticket. It used to be the case that the tight-head prop was the most important, but these days the loose-head prop is just as important.

Stat attack: Played the most minutes of any Argentina prop this autumn (189), completing 18 of his 20 tackles and beating two defenders.

*All statistics from Opta. Data based on autumn Tests against Tier 1 nations.


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