?>
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

RugbyDump's 2024 Guinness Six Nations team of the tournament

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Tuesday Mar 19, 2024

Another Six Nations has been and gone, with Ireland once again reigning supreme as the top team in European Rugby.

ADVERTISEMENT

Whilst there can be little doubt about Ireland’s credentials as the best team in the competition with a +84 points differential, the rise of Italy and England and the return to form of France through the final two rounds set the table for an intriguing year of test rugby.

Andy Farrell’s side rarely looked to get out of third gear throughout the Championship and would come up a cropper against a superb English performance at Twickenham, yet even still, the men in green lost by just a single point.

Second-place France will exit the competition on the back of a confidence-boosting late win over England but, in reality, still have several question marks around their identity and clarity of game plan. The most positive for Les Bleus was the emergence of Nolan Le Gerrac, who was a revelation when handed the starting shirt. Of course, Antoine Dupont will be first choice when he returns, but the Racing 92 scrumhalf will be breathing down the regular French captain’s neck.

In third, Steve Borthwick’s side showed a remarkable transformation through the final two rounds from what was a dire run through the opening three rounds. Spearheaded by a handful of talented youngsters, English Rugby’s outlook is far brighter now than it was just a fortnight ago. In Ollie Chessum, Ben Earl and George Martin, England have three pillars to build their pack around, whilst Tommy Freeman, Immaneul Feyi-Waboso, Ollie Lawrence, Alex Mitchell and George Furbank offer electric backline options to build an attacking game plan around.

The most disappointing team in this year’s Championship, Scotland, will be gutted with their two-win campaign, which has them labouring in fourth position. Unfortunately, it is another year of over-promising and under-delivering for Scotland’s ‘Golden Generation’ who, outside of Finn Russell, looks to have regressed since 2023.

Quite possibly the best-place finishers of all time, Italy ended the final three rounds unbeaten. Under new head coach Gonzalo Quesada, the Azzurri were a threat to everyone but Ireland this year and, like, should’ve had four wins to show for it. Now set for an elongated run as a genuine threat due to their flourishing underage systems, Italy are quite possibly the most exciting team in European Rugby.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pulling up the rear, Welsh Rugby’s stocks took a major hit this year with a winless campaign and, more worryingly, a regression throughout the Championship. In Warren Gatland, Wales have a coach who is experienced and belligerent enough to drag Welsh Rugby forward, but what this Championship exposed is that it is going to get worse before it gets better for Wales.

15. Hugo Keenan – Ireland

Arguably the best fullback in World Rugby, Keenan is crucial to Ireland, and his absence against Wales and Scotland was noticeable. His ability to cover every blade of grass in the backfield is matched only by his ability to spark something out of nothing, which adds a level of spontaneity to a mechanically efficient attack. Runner-up: Cameron Winnett, Wales.

14. Damian Penaud – France

ADVERTISEMENT

Could Penaud be the best back three-player in the world? Quite possibly… The French winger is impossible to contain for a full eighty minutes and looks likely to create something every time he touches the ball. His combination with Thomas Ramos and Louis Bielle-Biarrey is electric and will be even better when Antoine Dupont returns. Runner-up:  Tommy Freeman, England.

13. Ignacio Brex – Italy 

Was there a more prevalent play than Brex finding a runner on his shoulder in this year’s Championship? Every time the Argentine-born centre made even a half-break, he seemed to find a support runner. His combination with Tommasso Menencello is already the best Italian midfield pairing of the Six Nations era. Runner-up: Gael Fickou, France.

12. Bundee Aki – Ireland

Ireland’s go-forward machine was at it again in this year’s Championship as he barged through would-be tacklers every week. Alongside Robbie Henshaw for the full five rounds, Aki posed a serious breakdown threat and put in some bone-crunching hits for the champions. Runner-up: Tommasso Menencello, Italy.

11. James Lowe – Ireland

Renowned for his trademark finishing ability, Lowe scored at crucial points in this championship, namely against England, where Ireland struggled to get a foothold in the match. Whilst points scoring was immense, it was his tactical kicking and booming left boot that proved to be the biggest asset to Ireland’s game. Runner-up: Louis Bielle-Biarrey, France.

10. Jack Crowley – Ireland 

You never want to be the guy who replaces THE GUY, but Jack Crowley took the weight that comes with being Johnny Sexton’s successor in his stride. Such was the performance of the young Munster playmaker that Ireland barely missed a beat as they began a new era without arguably Ireland’s greatest-ever player. Sure, there were a few mistakes, and he will no doubt be tested in South Africa, but at no point was he ever a weak link for the men in green. Runner-up: Paolo Garbisi, Italy.

9. Jamison Gibson-Park – Ireland

The heartbeat of the Irish attack, JGP controls the Irish attacking tempo with masterful proficiency. Taking the pressure off Crowley with his decision-making and kicking game, Gibson-Park is at his absolute peak at 32-years-old and will likely still play a major role for Ireland over the next couple of seasons. Runner-up:  He edges out England’s superb Alex Mitchell on account of his injuries.

8. Ben Earl – England

Almost certainly the player of the Championship, England’s barnstorming number eight is the key building block for Steve Borthwick’s side heading into their two-test series with the All Blacks in June. So central to everything England does, from set piece to open field play, the Saracens star is a colossus in every sense of the word. Runner-up: Caelen Doris, Ireland.

7. Tommy Reffell – Wales

Far and away the best Welsh player in this tournament, Reffell kept Wales in the fight for as long as he could but lacked the support he needed. A menace at the breakdown, the Leicester Tigers slowed down the more physical packs in the Championship and gave this young squad some much-needed direction. His future combination with Jac Morgan will offer Wales a dangerous double poaching threat. Runner-up: Michele Lamaro – Italy.

6. Ollie Chessum – England

Courtney Lawes 2.0 has landed as the Leicester lock took the backrow like a duck to water. Offering some much-needed bulk to a rather lightweight but uber-dynamic English backrow and, even more importantly, a third piece of tall timber at line-out time. Surprisingly nimble around the park his combination with clubmate George Martin as a one-two punch frees up Maro Itoje to wreak havoc at the breakdown and maul. Runner-up: Franoic Cros – France

5. Tadhg Beirne – Ireland

Mr Consistency, Beirne was ultra-effective in every match he played, including some big moments that kept Ireland in the fight against England. Like Gibson-Park, at 32-years-old he is playing his best rugby, and with his durability and physical fitness, he should have the legs to be one of Ireland’s experienced veterans at the 2027 World Cup. Runner-Up: Dafydd Jenkins – Wales

4. George Martin – England 

Mean, nasty and uncompromising (all on the pitch, of course), England’s new enforcer is the real deal, everybody. Building on his world-class outing in the World Cup semi-final, Martin is exactly what the English pack have been lacking over the past four years as a do-it-all bully. Runner-up: Joe McCarthy, Ireland.

3. Tadhg Furlong – Ireland 

Getting back to his very best, Furlong is still the best tighthead in the Six Nations, with only the Springbok options being viable alternatives for the mantle of being the best in the world. Still capable of throwing a beautiful pass or going on a mazy run, Furlong’s scrummaging was rock solid and on full display as Ireland obliterated Scotland in this department. Runner-Up: Uini Antonio, France. 

2. Dan Sheehan – Ireland

What hasn’t already been written about Sheehan that can be added to this piece? The Leinster hooker is uber-dynamic in every facet of open play and around the close quarters, whilst his scrummaging is on point. Breaking the try-scoring record for a forward in the Championship is no mean feat and highlights why many believe he is alongside South Africa’s Malcolm Marx as the best in the world. Runner-up: Jamie George, England.

1. Andrew Porter – Ireland

Completing an all-Irish front row, Porter appears to have won over the referees following what felt like a strange run started by Wayne Barnes of referees pinging him at scrum time. Clearly invaluable to the Irish team, as is evidenced by the minutes he plays, Porter is a modern-day ball-playing prop who brings a hard edge to the Irish pack. Runner-up: Cyrill Baille, France.

Related Articles

  • 12 WEEKS AGO

    Jonny Gray to exit Exeter Chiefs with immediate...

  • 12 WEEKS AGO

    Former Connacht hooker shares brilliant rugby...

  • 12 WEEKS AGO

    Official calls halt to play amidst double-call...



ADVERTISEMENT

Great Tries

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    Wallabies star Filipo Daugunu commites daylight robbery for superb try against Wales

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    Wallabies score incredible end-to-end try under immense pressure from Wales

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    Beauden Barrett sets up EXCEPTIONAL All Blacks try to take the lead against England

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    WATCH: Smith and Freeman combine to put England in front in Auckland

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    Two incredible tries in the space of two minutes as All Blacks and England come out swinging

View All

Big Hits & Dirty Play

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    England enforcer's tour could be over following red card vs Japan

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Pitch invader melted in thunderous tackle

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Bath's Beno Obano shown red in the Premiership final

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    World Player of the Year BANNED heading into Paris Olympics following horror challenge during Madrid SVNS

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    Debate surrounding ludicrous rugby league tackle leaves union fans baffled

View All

See It To Believe It

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    Magnificent Frawley drop goal seals Irish victory in Durban as Kolbe accused of 'diving'

  • 6 DAYS AGO

    Northampton fans dismayed as 'dismal' new badge revealed

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Fans bemused as France make use of 'attacking' new rule for defensive purpsoes

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Crazy end to France vs All Blacks match as TMO involved in final kick

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Rugby 25 early access given shock release

View All

Funnies

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Wild changing room scenes as Toulouse begin their Top 14 victory celebrations

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Footage emerges of Handre Pollard before his famous RWC semi penalty

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    'I don't think I've found a front rower that is normal' - Joe Marler

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Rassie Erasmus's underrated mental warfare ahead of Ireland series

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Rugby brotherhood on full display between three South African Rugby legends

View All

Amateur

  • 79 WEEKS AGO

    You Won’t See Many Better Than This Silky-Smooth Try From Llandovery RFC

  • 79 WEEKS AGO

    Incredible Scenes As Caldy RFC Hand Ealing First Championship Defeat Of The Season

  • 102 WEEKS AGO

    Dubious Score Decides Result Of Rugby's Biggest Schools Fixture

  • 102 WEEKS AGO

    Incredible Scenes At School Boys Rugby Match

  • 103 WEEKS AGO

    The Next Dominant Backrow?

View All

Player Features

  • 6 DAYS AGO

    Ringrose in for Aki as Farrell names Ireland squad to face Springboks

  • 6 DAYS AGO

    Match preview: All Blacks vs England

  • 6 DAYS AGO

    Japanese club confirms three big name overseas signings

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Semi-finalists decided after torrential rain disrupts final round of pool matches

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Ireland to face most capped starting XV in Springbok history

View All