BRONX, NY – For those of you wondering whether it’s a bit late for a Six Nations piece, I say this: You try covering European Rugby from the Bronx! That said… Now that it’s really and truly and sadly over – although I’m yet to watch Wales vs France – the Tournament’s end comes with RWU Awards and Team Placards.
Team Of The Tourney. Wales. The Champions deserved all their spoils. They won tight, won with offence, won with defence, made kicks. Most importantly, they took advantage of mistakes made by their opposition and made fewer mistakes. That is how you win.
Most Impressive Side: England. After the RWC fallout and despite new management and players, they were very competitive.
Most Improved Side: Wales. Despite the great finish of 4th place in the RWC, they had some serious injuries and depth issues yet proved that they are developing a next generation of talent.
Most Impressive Player: Owen Farrell (England). He is still only 20 and has yet to show genuine attacking presence and play-making ability BUT with his age in mind – his defence, goal-kicking and temperament are impressive. Most players that are the son of a great player and the assistant coach would show cracks but not Owen. He makes it look like a standard post match jog.
Most Improved Player: Alex Corbersiro (England). By the end of the 6N this year, he was pushing to be one of the top 3 loose-head props in the Northern Hemisphere. He has also shown more work in the loose, including tackles and ball carrying.
Best Young Player: Wesley Fofana (France). Sorry Owen Farrell, but Wesley’s tries his tackles and his attack edge you out by the slimmest of margins. Yes, namimg Farrell Most Impressive and not Best Young Player is weird – but I’m a tad off, so forgive me..
Comeback Player Of The Tourney: Tom Croft (England). After a horrid bit of form that saw him being called out for sea-gulling on the wing – sea-gulling is okay if you are a wing but not if you are blindside flanker – Tommy came back to his 2009 Lions. Great lineout work, ball-carrying and he actually made tackles and hit rucks!
Man Of The Tournament: Dan Lyidate (Wales). Without captain and backrow mate Sam “Glass” Warburton, blindside flanker Lyidate and #8 Toby Faletauhad to pick-up the slack. Not only did Dan pick up the slack, he carried it and took it for a jog. He increased his tackles (in number & intensity), created turnovers and hit rucks like a madman. His inspired performance was key in letting the Welsh backline get good ball as the forwards played superbly. For a guy who nearly broke his neck 3 years ago, to comeback and perform at this level, you have to be happy for him.
All Tournament Team:
15. Ben Foden (Eng) – Edges it on attacking flair
14. Tommy Bowe (Ire) – Most complete wing in the Tourney
13. Jonathan Davies (Wal) – Never looks on paper as talented as he is on the pitch.
12. Brad Barritt (Eng) – Limited yes, not as good as an on form Jamie Roberts, but he was the lynchpin of a stifling English backline defense.
11. George North (Wal) – Big, strong, fast and smart winger that can only get better being all of 20-years-old.
10. Francios Trinh-Duc (Fra) – Though the FH play was a bit meh, I did see him force the issue more than the others.
9. Mike Phillips (Wal) – Unspired play by most scrum-halves but not Mr. Phillips. He managed to get his backs quick ball which was the key to that backline attack.
8. Ben Morgan (Eng) – Came of the bench twice then started the final 3 games and always made good yards going forward and his presence known.
7. Ross Rennie (Sco) – With Warburton out, Rennie was the only natural openside in the tourney to put his hand up. Work-rate and turnovers were impressive
6. Dan Lyidate (Wal) – Hard luck to Dusatior but Lyidate is the Man of the Tournament and would captain this side
5. Yoann Maestri (Fra) – For his first 6N, he looked pretty comfy at this level and will likely be here for a while
4. Richie Gray (Sco) – Easily the best lock of the Tourney. Line breaks, off-loads and line-out work are exceptionally and he is only 22!!
3. Nicolas Mas (Fra) – With the number of great tight-heads in display it was a tough pick, however one more Frenchman was the deciding factor.
2. Rory Best (Ire) – Simply the Best hooker of the tournament, full stop.
1. Gethin Jenkins (Wal) – Just clings on to it with Big Al breathing down his neck.
16. Ross Ford (Sco) – Lost focus at times but played outstanding for the first 4 games, fifth was a bit messy.
17. Dan Cole (Eng) – Yet again tough choice between him and Adam Jones but the Ireland game won it for him
18. Donnacha Ryan (Ire) – Only two games and he showed why he should have started of Donnacha O’Callagan in the national team as he does for Munster
19. Thierry Dusatior (Fra) – Only the man of the Tourney keeps him from starting
20. Lee Dickson (Eng) – Like Ben Morgan he went from Bench to starter and his presence was noticable by his teams improved performance.
21. Owen Farrell (Eng) – If he continues to develop he will be in the England set-up for years to come.
22. Wesley Fofana (Fra) – Same as above except change England for France.
It was a wonderful tourney and I now can’t wait for the fall tours to see which team and players take a step forward or the dreaded step back.
That’s all for now… Would love to hear your comments below. And please check out the RWU Video Page for new interviews with Mathew Turner (England), Richie Pugh (Wales) and Chris Cracknell (England) – which will be later today.