Six Nations 2013 Team of the Week: Round 1

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15: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
A rare shining light on a dismal afternoon for Scotland. Hogg’s mazy running and astounding pace was too much for England, and he was one of only a few Scots who can say they outplayed their opposite number. Showed great commitment to chase down kick and cross in the final few minutes.

14: Luke McLean (Italy)
Fly-half to wing is not a particularly common switch, but McLean seems to have made it work. Looks more comfortable away from the spotlight that comes with the playmaking position, and he was a constant threat to the French on Sunday with some darting runs. He also has a handy boot on him, which is rare for a winger.

13: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
Write him off at your peril. As convincing a response to the naysayers as is possible, O’Driscoll’s performance was a joy to behold. The blind pass for Zebo’s try was astonishingly good, and his own try showed why he is the master of short-range opportunism. England will have to shackle him to have any chance of victory next weekend.

12: Billy Twelvetrees (England)
Debutant extraordinaire, Twelvetrees delivered the kind of performance that any seasoned international would be proud of. There were no signs of nerves as he looked assured on the ball, challenging the Scottish defenders on the gain-line and fizzing out passes off both hands. Has given Lancaster a very welcome selection headache for next weekend.

11: Simon Zebo (Ireland)
Already an internet sensation, Zebo’s audacious heel-flick was easily the piece of skill of the weekend. He had no right to keep the ball alive, but he managed to do just that and it ultimately led to Ireland’s second try. He also evaded Welsh attention well to score their first.

10: Luciano Orquera (Italy)
An unbelievable performance from Orquera, who was handed the cursed Italian outside-half shirt. He has had a couple of bites of the cherry in the past, but never has he grabbed his opportunity quite like this. He glided through a gap to set up Parisse in the first half, and darted through the line again before offering an audacious offload to Castro for his try. A mercurial performance, he out-Michalaked Michalak.

9: Ben Youngs (England)
The Youngs v Care battle for the no.9 shirt rumbles on. Youngs put in the kind of performance that was reminiscent of his early days, making those arcing runs round the outside that are so beautiful to watch. He also managed two assists with some well-directed passes.

1: Cian Healy (Ireland)
There are few sterner examinations of one’s scrummaging than opposing Adam Jones, and after coming through it with flying colours this perceived weakness of Healy’s game must finally be forgotten. He was, as always, titanic with ball in hand, capping off a fine performance with a bulldozing try.

2: Rory Best (Ireland)
Probably Ireland’s best performer, the Ulster hooker’s outing will have done his Lions credentials no harm whatsoever. Consistently hit his jumpers at the line-out and seemed to be everywhere in the loose. Charged down Biggar which started the move that led to Healy’s try.

3: Martin Castrogiovanni (Italy)
The shaggy-haired cult legend Castro is as loved by his Italian fans as he is his Leicester faithful. Somewhat marginalised at the Tigers this season by the form of Dan Cole, he reminded everyone that he still has a lot to offer. Seeing him crash over the line and his unbridled joy afterwards was the moment of the weekend.

4: Geoff Parling (England)
Rapidly becoming England’s most important player, Parling showed good awareness and hands to cross the line for his first international try. His obvious joy at this achievement clearly spurred him on to greater things, as he topped the charts for tackles made and, less surprisingly, line-outs won.

5: Mike McCarthy (Ireland)
18 tackles is an outrageous amount for a lock, and yet that is how many McCarthy managed, missing none either. Crucial to his team’s defensive efforts in the second half, he also made some strong carries.

6: Fulgence Ouedraogo (France)
It’s debatable whether France deserve any representation in this team after a thoroughly lacklustre performance, but Ouedraogo was easily their best performer. He made 11 tackles, more than any Frenchman other than Dusautoir, and was a handful in the line-out. He also picked some great lines and showed good pace to back it up.

7: Sean O’Brien (Ireland)
Nothing more needs really be said than 23 tackles. An astonishing figure by anyone’s estimation. As Wales threw all they had at Ireland in the second half, O’Brien led the way in defence throwing everything he had right back at them.

8: Sergio Parisse (Italy)
Captain, talisman, leader of men. Rarely has one man been so important to a team. Topping the stats for tackles and metres made, Parisse was totemic once again for the Azzurri. He also showed superb awareness and no little pace to pop up on Orquera’s shoulder for Italy’s opening try.

By Jamie Hosie

Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

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35 comments on “Six Nations 2013 Team of the Week: Round 1

    • Don’t be so English. Sean O’Brien was absolutely everywhere, and is justifiably in every team of this round.

      Tom Wood was good, but I thought Zanni was better than both O’Brien and Ouedraogo

  1. Wouldn’t have O’Brien at 7. He is a six really (as are all the Irish back row). Am still not convinced that he adds enough to the attack. The reason he made so many tackles was because Ireland were on the back foot for the second half. Did he change that – no. Would I want him in my back row at 6 – probably, but not 7. This is the danger of stats. They only show part of the story. Would be interesting to see where all of those tackles were made as well. I would guess most were close to the ruck. I might be wrong on this point though. He’ll now go and prove me wrong by scoring 3 tries at the weekend, so rant over!

    • Why do people look for excuses why O’Brien can’t play well at seven? It was the same on the summer tour. He had a great game and 23 tackles is impressive wherever you make them.

  2. No room for Farrell? Also I would have Robshaw instead of O’Brien. O’Brien may have made tackles, but Robshaw made 44 metres, 5 offloalds and one turnover, surely that’s more impressive. And it also tells me that O’Briens team mates need to work harder!!

  3. I think Orquera is a very fair call at 10. Farrell had a fine game of course, but Orquera was outstanding at all aspects of the game and certainly rose higher above everyones expectations than Farrell. He also created both of Italy’s tries, for the second one taking out both Ouedraogo and the second row in the process.

    Ouedraogo did stand out in a poor pack, but with the exception of Shingler, I would struggle to put him ahead of any of the other 6’s on display. Other than that, good team i’d say.

  4. I can completely see why Orquera is in there, although Farrell was very good.

    And I would definitely have Robshaw over O’Brien. I always find stats very misleading. For example, a tackle count can often mean that a team were defending the whole time so does not necessarily mean they had a fantastic game.

    The top 5 tacklers this weekend were all Irish forwards. All that tells me is that the Welsh attacked constantly for the last half hour of the game; and also, due to Wales’ back line playing very direct, there were a lot of tackles made.

    Robshaws stats with turnovers and line breaks were far more impressive in my opinion.

  5. Roll on Sunday, should be a cracker,come on Ireland and hopefully the Irish backrow will get the upper hand and O Driscoll and Zebo can score the trys

  6. Just the one change, I would have to pick Robshaw over Ouedraogo, it was Chris’ best game for England in my opinion.

  7. Fly halves are generally rated on their kicking percentages.

    Farrell kicked well and therefore his performance seemed spectacular.

    His performance was good but nothing incredible apart from that beautiful pass out to parling.

    He had a very easy afternoon behind a dominant pack.

    Orquera was great throughout and derves his place.

    Darting runs and setting up that first try. He also controlled the game well and put Italy in the right parts of the field with his kicking for a great win for Italy.

    You cant argue with his place. Farrell was good but not as good as Orquera.

    • in farrell’s defence, if you watch ashton’s try, you will see that it is farrell who flys in to clear richie gray off of the ball in the ruck, providing the ball for youngs to just pop to ashton to crash over. show me another 10 who can hit richie gray like that…

      orqueara was great though, and purely based on the task at hand for the italians, i felt he rose higher than farrell (who stayed consistent with his AB form)

  8. howard westcott February 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm -

    Im am welsh through and through, and the most depressing thing for me is that I agree with not having a welshman in the side….halfpenny perhaps the nearest….the lions may be a different kettle of fish, but Ireland and England will make up the bulk, but dont write of class players on one bad performance…If there was a world player of the year, it would be Parisse, a once in a generation player

    • unfortunately many of the welsh players are being written off on multiple bad performances, not just the one.

      halfpenny is unlucky not to make this team, but hogg was something special, and deserves his spot. halfpenny is still the lions front runner for fullback.

      other than that, i think every other welshman was outplayed by his opposite number on the day, let alone those playing for the other 4 nations that were on show over the weekend.

      • i think what howard meant was:

        if there was a world player of the year award that was given out based on the single individual performance on 1 player (not dictated by results of teams they are in) then Parisse would be hard to go by each time.

        also its pretty easy to pick up the IRB player of the year award when you are allowed to be rested for half of your club season… Cough *McCaw and Carter* Cough

          • Fair enough, not easy. But it definitely comes easier for mccaw and carter who play about 2/3rd of the super rugby season, so that they will be fresh for the ABs, as opposed to someone like parisse or lobbe, who tend to have to perform exceptionally week in week out, other wise their team gets a drumming.

            I feel that Parisse and Lobbe have a bigger impact on their individual teams than any other player in the world.

  9. It’s true that there are no stiffer tests in world rugby than Adam Jones; but only when he is fully match fit. Jones patently wasn’t on Saturday and, with a number of other selections reflects poorly on Rob Howley. Dan Cole is a bigger test for Healy this weekend, one I expect Healy to pass comfortable.

    • as an englishman i hope healy struggles this weekend.

      as a die hard lions fan, dominance for healy will prove once and for all that he is without doubt the front runner for the no1 lions shirt.

      from my point of view this battle is a win win either way… although i would prefer that people just accept that healy is good enough and he doesnt have to prove it ;)

      this england ireland game should be an absolute cracker! ireland are looking great at the moment. i could happily make up an XV of only english and irish and i think it would be absolutely outstanding!

    • “pass comfortably”? he may well do well against Cole, as Healy is certainly a better scrummager than he was, but comfortably? Not so sure about that one.

      • i dont thin healy will pass comfortably. if he does then there is something seriously wrong with cole.

        The fact if the matter is, the aussie props are not as strong scrummagers as cole, jones or ross. so as long as healy can avoid being demolished by these guys (already ticked jones off the list, and unfortunately we could only see him vs ross on the training paddock) then i am sure he will go well against the wallabies. plus he just offers so much more to his game.

  10. Anybody forgetting about sexton. Clearly no1 for the lions. Also yes robshaw had a good game but in fairness not much of an opposition.. OBrien has high tackle count in any game. Fantastic player but I agree not a no7.

    • no one is forgetting sexton, but it is sort of expected of him to perform at that level. farrell and orquera seemed to raise their games, so they are getting most of the praise.

      for me, especially based on the injuries to Ferris and Lydiate, O’Brien and Wood are the standout 6’s for the lions. I would even consider O’Brien at 8 to accomodate him and wood. i think that o’brien’s ball carrying would work well with someone like wood. then it would probably be robshaw or tipuric for 7 at the moment…

      • Very true. Will be huge test for farrell on Sunday but will be a cracker. Not sure on obrien at no.8 even though he has played there for leinster but absolutely agree on no.6

        • after the poor form of the welsh, this has got to be the biggest game from a lions perspective. gatland had better be in dublin!

          i agree that o’brien is more of a 6, and depending on how wood goes at 8 (seems he will be there for ireland) then maybe o’brien would be a 6. i just think that we have to find a way to play the best 3 backrowers for the lions

  11. Howley may have made some cack ups in selection but thats the first time I’ve seen Adam Jones picked as one . The other two Welsh front row players yes Adam no.Paul James and Ken Owens come on and the Welsh scrum becomes nore dominant .

    Tipuric performed outstandingly in his 35 minute cameo . Faletau was very good too when the balance of the pack was right . Ian Evans was good will be better when he plays in his second game in four months .Coombs had a good debut for a so called makeshift player .

    Phillips ,Roberts ,Warburton , j Davies ,North all below par but some players deserved some credit or it would have been a 40 point drubbing.