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Women's Six Nations Team of the Tournament

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Tuesday Apr 30, 2024

After any major rugby event, you’ll find every publication putting out their team of the tournament. Some build them around whatever stats are available, others on trying to give every team their moment.

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Me? I like to build my team of the tournament on who entertained me the most, who I looked for on the team sheets each week or who made a name for themselves. It’s less objective, but much more fun! So, here are 15 players I always love to watch!

  1. Hannah Botterman

If there’s a single player who epitomises the steps the Red Roses have taken under John Mitchell, it has to be Botts. She’s always been huge fun in the loose, a rampaging runner who is a nightmare to tackle. Now though, she’s added some serious skill at the breakdown and her scrummaging is better than ever to boot. That’s why she’s beaten the likes of the imperious Annaelle Deshayes of France and Wales’ brilliant Gwenllian Pyrs to win the 1 shirt.

England’s prop Hannah Botterman is tackled during the Six Nations international women’s rugby union match between England and Ireland at Twickenham in south-west London on April 20, 2024. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

  1. Lana Skeldon

Whether Scotland are soaring or sinking, there are a couple of players who always give their all, their fantastic captain Rachel Malcolm and Lana Skeldon. The hooker doesn’t get the plaudits that go to some of her teammates but she is always box office and guaranteed to provide a few good carries and a big tackle or two. Of the players who started most games it was always going to be Skeldon, but how good was it to see Cliodhna Moloney back on the international stage as well as the magnificent Amy Cokayne who might be the most complete player in the game but somehow ended up in the front row!

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – OCTOBER 27: Lana Skeldon of Scotland warms up prior to the WXV 2 2023 match between Scotland and Japan at Athlone Sports Stadium on October 27, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Johan Rynners – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

  1. Assia Khalfaoui

No matter what you want from a tighthead prop, Khalfaoui has it in spades. She’s a monster scrummager, a terrifying carrying threat, dogged in defence, scores tries…. And sometimes plays a little too close to the line as her red card against England attests.

France’s prop Assia Khalfaoui (C) is tackled by Italy’s hooker Vittoria Vecchini (R) during Six Nations international women’s rugby union match between France and Italy at Jean Bouin in Paris, on April 14, 2024. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

  1. Zoe Aldcroft

The former World Player of the Year showed why she won the award with an a string of all court performances. Aldcroft is one of those players who seem to do everything well, whether she’s at lock or in the back row she routinely sits near the top of the tackle charts, loves a line-out steal and is guaranteed to score a cracking solo try whenever the Red Roses play Twickenham. Dorothy Wall was similarly everywhere for Ireland and Wales’ Natalia John is always a danger too.

England’s lock Zoe Aldcroft grabs the ball in a line-out during the Six Nations international women’s rugby union match between France and England at Chaban-Delmas Stadium in Bordeaux, on April 27, 2024. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP via Getty Images)

  1. Manae Feleu

Okay, so I cheated a little bit and put two number 4’s into my team, but can you blame me? Feleu, who was born in the tiny island nation of Wallis and Futuna and schooled in New Zealand has been around the French set up for a while but this was the tournament where she looked to be the more impressive of Les Bleus’ lock options, no mean feat when Madoussou Fall is playing alongside you. Shoutouts to Abbie Ward for juggling top end international rugby with being a mother and to Sam Monaghan for bossing it in Ireland’s pack too.

France’s lock Manae Feleu scores the team’s fifth try during the Six Nations international women’s rugby union match between Wales and France at Cardiff Arms Park in Cardiff, south Wales on April 21, 2024. (Photo by Geoff Caddick / AFP) (Photo by GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images)

  1. Aoife Wafer

Wafer might have made my team on name alone, but thankfully she’s a wonderful back row player, nominally a blindside flanker, she carries like a classic 8 without ever losing sight of her duties at the ruck or in defence. She was touch and go to make the team with the always-excellent Sadia Kabeya continuing to quietly be one of the best players every time she takes the field.

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England’s scrum-half Natasha Hunt tries to escape a tackle by Ireland’s flanker Aoife Wafer (L) during the Six Nations international women’s rugby union match between England and Ireland at Twickenham in south-west London on April 20, 2024. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

  1. Alex Callander

It was a tournament to forget for Wales, but amid a string of poor performances the one thing that never dropped was the ferocious work rate of Alex Callender. She’s a tackling machine who seems to love bringing players down more than any other part of the game. That she is playing at this level without even having a club since Worcester Warriors folded (she did appear in the Celtic Challenge) shows the class she brings. That she beat out Marlie Packer for a spot here brings it into even sharper focus.

  1. Evie Gallagher

If we went off statistics, this would be Alex Matthews’ spot, without a doubt. The Red Roses 8 has been flawless and is all too often unsung. I’m here for what a player adds to their team though and for all Matthews’ brilliance she is one of many great back rows in that team. Evie Gallagher on the other hand has been instrumental in the reshaping of Scotland’s back row from a purely defensive unit into one that can be relied on to support offence too.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – OCTOBER 27: Evie Gallagher of Scotland celebrate during the WXV 2 match between Scotland and Japan at Athlone Stadium on October 27, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

  1. Natasha ‘Mo’ Hunt

The rehabilitation of Mo Hunt has been one of the Red Roses most engaging storylines. Unceremoniously dumped by England in the lead up to the last World Cup, her omission seemed a glaring mistake when, in the final, the Roses needed someone who could change the flow of the game. Now, she’s undroppable, a wonderful player who just gets better with age. It was great to see Pauline Bourdon-Sansus come out of the shadow of her partner, and formerly the player she competed against for the 9 shirt, to play some of her best rugby in years too.

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 20: Natasha Hunt of England breaks with the ball during the Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium on April 20, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

  1. Dannah O’Brien

It’s amazing what a good fly-half can do for a team, and in O’Brien Ireland have found what they have been sorely missing for years, a player who can kick points, can direct play and can grab a game by the scruff of the neck when necessary too. Similarly Helen Nelson hitting the form of her life has been key to Scotland’s improved play, while Holly Aitchison seems to have locked down the 10 shirt for England with her run and gun approach to the role.

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LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 20: Dannah O’Brien of Ireland successfully kicks a penalty conversion during the Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium on April 20, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

  1. Alyssa D’Inca

As a rugby fan, there are few things more exciting than a winger dancing between defenders before scoring and nobody danced better than D’Inca in this tournament. If she got the ball then there was a good chance she’d score a highlight real try. Her tournament was so good that as it wore on she moved off of the wing and into the centre so Italy could get her on the ball more often. France’s Marine Menager was similarly dangerous whenever she was deployed.

Italy’s left wing Alyssa D’Inca (L) runs with a ball during the Six Nations international women’s rugby union match between France and Italy at the Jean Bouin Stadium in Paris, on April 14, 2024. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

  1. Gabrielle Vernier

Every now and then a player comes along who makes rugby look effortless. Right now, nobody makes the game look quite as easy as Vernier. She’s flawless in defence, dangerous in attack and can distribute the ball or just crash it into a defensive line. She does it all and she does it brilliantly. So well, in fact, that I didn’t hesitate to put her ahead of the rock star of women’s rugby, Italy’s Beatrice Rigoni.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – MARCH 30: Gabrielle Vernier of France is tackled by Alex Stewart and Helen Nelson of Scotland during the Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 match between Scotland and France at Hive Stadium – Edinburgh Rugby Stadium on March 30, 2024 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

  1. Megan Jones

Vernier makes the game look effortless, whereas Meg Jones makes it look like she’s playing a different game altogether. She never hesitates to try a pass or a kick that might seem mad to most of us, but to her is just the obvious move. She’s stolen the outside centre spot for England and even with Emily Scarratt back to fitness, Jones doesn’t look willing to give it back.

BORDEAUX, FRANCE – APRIL 27: Megan Jones (L) and Maud Muir of England celebrate after their Grand Slam Six Nations victory during the Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 match between France and England at Stade Chaban-Delmas on April 27, 2024 in Bordeaux, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

  1. Katie Corrigan

I think Corrigan touched the ball once when Ireland faced England at Twickenham, but when she finally did get her hands on it she came closer than anyone else in a green shirt to scoring. As one generation of Irish wingers ages out of the game so this one is coming to the fore and Corrigan, with Beibhann Parsons on the opposing wing, will be a big part of why they will be a threat to most teams they face. Abby Dow scored more tries with her typical hard-running game, but Corrigan looked like a star in the making.

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND – APRIL 27: Katie Corrigan of Ireland scores her team’s first try during the Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 match between Ireland and Scotland at Kingspan Stadium on April 27, 2024 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

  1. Ellie Kildunne

Nine tries in five games. That says it all. Earlier in her career Kildunne was something of a flat track bully, racking up the tries against weaker teams, but often kept in check when facing the best of opposition. This tournament showed that she’s rounded out her game and even when not galloping up the pitch she gives her all.

BORDEAUX, FRANCE – APRIL 27: Jess Breach and Ellie Kildunne celebrate with Sydney Gregson of England after the Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 match between France and England at Stade Chaban-Delmas on April 27, 2024 in Bordeaux, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Written by Matt Merritt.

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