Six Nations 2010 - The Team of the Tournament
So the Six Nations is over for another year, and for a third year running, one side has managed to complete the Grand Slam.
This year, it was France who completed their ninth slam, and their fifth in just 13 years. So unsurprisingly, the makeup of the team of the tournament features several members of Les Bleus, but which other players were able to break into the team?
Clement Poitrenaud (France) – He’s always had the potential but the performances for France have never really lived up to it. Until this year that is! Safe under the high ball, showing a surprisingly good kicking game, but most importantly, absolutely electric when running the ball back from deep. His performance against Italy was one of, if not the performance of the championship.
Tommy Bowe (Ireland) – He now ranks up there as one of the best wingers in the world, and his two tries against England were the difference between the two sides. His ability to break through gaps in the centre of the pitch gives Ireland lots of options when they have possession.
Mathieu Bastareaud (France) – Almost by default as none of the outside centres had great tournaments. He was very impressive against the Scots and the Irish, and did little wrong against the Welsh. A calf injury kept him on the bench for the Italy game, and he didn’t look back to full fitness against the English, where he was probably responsible for the try conceded. James Hook ran him close.
Yannick Jauzion (France) – To think that had Maxime Mermoz been fit, he probably wouldn’t have played. Jauzion is not as quick as in the past, but he still remains the pivot in the French midfield, and his defence against both England and Wales was immense.
Shane Williams (Wales) – Just edges out Keith Earls, but Williams’ tries against the Scots and the French showed that he is getting back into some form. He has now topped the 50 international tries, an incredible achievement for the little winger.
Dan Parks (Scotland) – When Andy Robinson took over as Scotland coach, it seemed that Parks’ international career was over. However, some good performances for Glasgow and a loss of form from Phil Godman, gave the Australian born stand off his chance. And with three man of the match awards in four games, and a match winning kick in the last minute against the Irish, he certainly took it!
Morgan Parra (France) – Followed up some ill advised words in the press about Irish cheating with a masterful performance, and has really proved that he is the natural successor in France’s long line of leaders in the scrum half position. It’s incredible to think that he is still only 21, but his game has progressed this season with improved goalkicking and swifter delivery from the base of rucks.
Thomas Domingo (France) – It’s incredible to think that it was just two years ago that France’s scrum was humiliated at home by Ireland. Now they have two world class looseheads, and Fabien Barcella will be struggling to get his place in the side back. As well as seeing off all comers in the scrum, Domingo was everywhere around the park.
William Servat (France) – A very tight call between the Toulouse man and Ross Ford, but Servat’s contribution in the loose was the clincher. He was the man who was always available to take the ball on a pick and drive, and who made ground every time. Not always the most consistent with his darts, but part of the French front row that dominated every opponent.
Nicolas Mas (France) – The Bus, as he is affectionately known in his native Perpignan, has not always been first choice for France, but this tournament cemented his place as one of the premier tightheads in the game. Untouchable in the scrum, he also managed to play a part in the loose including one very impressive tackle on Shane Williams.
Lionel Nallet (France) – Losing the captaincy has clearly done him a lot of good. The rejuvenated Racing star was ferocious when hitting rucks and smashing players back in the tackle. His power was also key in the performance of the French scrum.
Alastair Kellock (Scotland) – He was outstanding against the English, and followed up that performance by comprehensively outplaying Paul O’Connell against Ireland. He took apart the much vaunted Irish lineout, and one of the highlights of the tournaments was when he pushed away the team doctor to field a high kick against England.
Thierry Dusuatoir (France) – Consistently excellent, the ‘Dark Destroyer’ was as unforgiving as ever in defence, with one huge tackle on Lewis Moody typifying his importance to the side. Not quite as effective with ball in hand as he would hope, but his captaincy played a huge role as France kept their heads when going for the grand slam.
John Barclay (Scotland) – The whole of the Scottish back row was brilliant, but Barclay in particular, looks like he could go on to be a great. He is athletic, has great handling, and was physically strong enough to get the better of an impressive Irish unit at the weekend. Judging by his character, he could also be a future captain.
Imanol Harinordoquy (France) – Quite simply the player of the tournament. He has it all, great power, the pace to be a back, wonderful hands, and is up there with the very best in the world in the lineout. The Biarritz man has really matured over the last couple of years, and is now the best number 8 in the world. A special mention should also go to Johnnie Beattie who had a great tournament as well.