Six Nations 2013 Team of the Week: Round 4


15. Andrea Masi (Italy)
Masi typified Italy’s defiance in the face of an England team that probably did not pay his team enough respect. He was resolute in defence, making 11 tackles, and consistently solid going forward. One of many Italian warriors unlucky to end up on the losing side. Rob Kearney is unlucky to miss out after rediscovering some form.

14. Luke McClean (Italy)
11 carries, 99 metres made: stats worthy of a top class international winger. Took his try with aplomb and was a genuine threat to the England defence, often dancing his way through gaps that appeared not to be there. Also has a very handy left boot on him.

13. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
The warrior that is Brian O’Driscoll continues to defy his body – and common sense – as showed on Saturday when returning to the pitch after seemingly being knocked-out. It wasn’t all bloody-mindedness, though – there were moments of real class as well, a perfectly-placed grubber kick here, a ghosting outside break there. He will be sorely missed.

12. Luke Marshall (Ireland)
Marshall didn’t set the world alight by any stretch of the imagination, but was there another inside centre who had anything remotely resembling a good game this weekend? Gonzalo Garcia, perhaps, but Marshall gets the nod by virtue of being up against better opposition. He helped nullify the combined threat of Fofana and Fritz, while one turnover in the first half sticks out in the memory.

11. Mike Brown (England)
Brown was by far the stand out performer in the England backs – but then that isn’t saying a great deal. He still manages to make metres and one step and go left his opposite number clutching at thin air, almost leading to a try. George North and Venditti can both feel slightly aggrieved to miss out after impressing.

10. Paddy Jackson (Ireland)
Had Orquera knocked his kicks over he would have had this spot down. He didn’t, however, and it cost his team the game. Jackson looked more man than boy this week, and was significantly better from the tee, including a couple of absolute belters from near the halfway line. Again, though, it is a damning indictment of the quality of rugby on show that there were so few contenders for this spot.

9. Conor Murray (Ireland)
Murray’s mastering of what were very difficult conditions for half-backs to play in was the most pleasing aspect of his game. It is a fiercely competitive area looking ahead to the Lions tour, but the Munsterman has done his chances no harm this weekend.

1. Cian Healy (Ireland)
Healy made the most of not being banned to get his hands on the ball as often as he could, completing 12 carries in total. He was part of an Irish pack that bullied its French counterpart in the first half, several incredible driving mauls culminating in a try for captain Heaslip.

2. Richard Hibbard (Wales)
Hibbard looks perfectly comfortable in the international arena, and the physical nature of his game was never more welcome than at Murrayfield on Saturday. Barged over from short range to cap an excellent performance on which the only blight were a few wayward line-out throws. Tom Youngs was also at his bustling best for England – that looks set to be quite a head-to-head next weekend.

3. Adam Jones (Wales)
Two dominant Welsh scrums in two matches against strong packs renowned for being good in the scrum reflects very well on the shaggy-haired Ospreys man. Also completed ten tackles, an impressive shift for any front row forward. Looks back to his best and hungry for that Lions jersey – his battle with the other frontrunner, Dan Cole, next weekend will be fascinating.

4. Christophe Samson (France)
The French still haven’t managed a win but have at least now managed a point. When Yoann Maestri went off injured early in the second half great responsibility fell onto the inexperienced shoulders of Samson, and he handled it well. 14 tackles, the same number as that great tree-chopper Dusautoir, is massively impressive for a lock.

5. Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales)
This was Jones’ type of game – tight, physical, and in need of a healthy dose of warrior spirit, something he possesses in abundance. Completed ten carries and ten tackles, as well as taking six line-outs. A comprehensive return to the starting line-up for the giant lock.

6. Alessandro Zanni (Italy)
Zanni was part of a back row that outplayed its English equivalent in almost every facet of the game. He combined with Barbieri and Parisse to outfox their opponents and arguably should have had a try after a sublime surge from Zanni almost set up Parisse, only for a dubious knock-on to foil them. The stats back up his brilliance: 11 carries, 72 metres made and 11 tackles. Imperious in attack and defence.

7. Sam Warburton (Wales)
This is the Warburton that Welsh fans have been pining after – the 2012 Grand Slam vintage. It is too early to say if he has played himself back into Lions reckoning, but it was certainly a step in the right direction. Along with super-sub Tipuric conspired to pilfer Scottish ball at any opportunity, consistently denying them an attacking platform.

8. Louis Picamoles (France)
It is so tough to ignore the prodigious Parisse, but Picamoles was once again the shining light amongst a largely average group of Frenchmen. Made 83 metres in 13 carries, including the all-important five (or was it four and a half…?) that mattered most in the end.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

50 thoughts on “Six Nations 2013 Team of the Week: Round 4

  1. Not sure Masi was the best full back on display, thought Kearney was back to his best. Would have had Parisse over Picamoles too. Dusutoir unlucky not to make the team. Not a great week for centres! Other than that, a pretty fair selection.

  2. Adam JONES and Dan COLE are both Tighthead Props No 3’s so will not be opposed to each other so how can you say they will battle ?

    1. Yes I’m aware of that, but they will still be opposing each other in the scrums, even if they’re not directly opposite. It’s still a battle.

  3. Hilarious – one team wins away from home by ten points this weekend and hardly gets a look in. I know, I really do know, that I’m sounding like a broken record now but I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve read on this blog about the importance of winning yet it seems like playing well against England or snatching a draw from the jaws of victory while at home is more merit-able?

    1. Surely you must see that Scotland-Wales was one of the worst matches of rugby in a long long time. The other two games weren’t much better, but the number of players from that game is bound to be less because of the quality.

      Which Welsh players would you pick over the above selections?

      1. Mike Phillips, Leigh Halfpenny and Ryan Jones.

        Can’t agree with your assessment of the match either other than general agreement that all were low quality. Can’t remember being bored so much by a rugby match as the Ire v Fra one. The only excitement in the Italy match came in the last 20 and that was more down to “could they? could they really win this?” than any skill or quality on show. If that had been the same match and score but was Ire v Eng then it would have been dire.

        I can’t understand why a) Ireland get so much credit for failing to muller a completely disinterested one man French team and b) Mike Brown gets into this team for being the least rubbish English player on show.

        1. Phillips was not better than Murray, Halfpenny and Masi were probably on a par (Halfpenny’s kicking will always make him more obvious but that does not mean he played better) and Ryan Jones didn’t do as much as Zanni (Zanni made 10 tackles, 11 carries and 72 metres). Jones wasn’t even in the top performers (stats-wise) for Wales. I know stats don’t tell you everything, but they do tell you how good Zanni was on Sunday.

          As for entertainment, the Wales game was more interesting for you because you are Welsh. When your own country is involved it is always more interesting. I think most other people would agree that the Sco v Wales game was the worst of the weekend (and I’m Scottish, so that’s not coming from an English viewpoint/bias).

          As for Brown, he’s in the team for playing well not for being the least bad. Never went backwards and almost had two tries.

          1. Brighty, you cannot say that the Wales game was a good game by any standards, Wales continually infringing in the scrum did not help ( all Teams actually ) and their ball skills like all the Teams on the weekend were poor, The Italians were probably the best and the Team is being picked on individual performances not Team results.

          2. Jamie totally disagree with your assessment of Halfpenny. He’s the more obvious choice because of his kicking? Umm how about not dropping a high ball so far this 6N? not missing a tackle in the 6N since 2011? Then on top of that his usually excellent kicking?

            You honestly think he didnt play as well as Masi this weekend??

            However, i still found the Italians more entertaining so would agree with your choice to include him. Played better than Halfpenny though? thats a bold statement which i dont think really holds up.

          3. Anarky, I agree with that and do think that these marks are based on entertainment value rather than quality. Ita v Eng was the most exciting match of the weekend but primarily because it was Ita nearly beating the grand slam elect team at home (elected by 5Live at least). As other comments on here have mentioned, the main sticking point people have with the Wales backs was that the Wal v Sco was a dull and dire match – I think their haklbacks played the right game as I’ve said in another comment.

    2. Brighty, there are four Welsh players in the team. Ireland are the only team with more with five, but if you look at the positions they are in, can you really argue their Welsh equivalents did any better? People like Marshall and Jackson are there because no-one else put their hand up this weekend – as I say, a fairly damning indictment of the quality of rugby on show.

      The Wales win was good but it was ugly. It was a team win – other than the players in the team above, who stood out really? Certainly none of the backs. It wasn’t that sort of game. North was ok but wasn’t better than Brown or McClean. I think I’ve been pretty fair to Wales here.

      1. What I don’t understand is how any of the Irish players put their hand up? They scored the same num of tries as Wales (well, the team did, it was a forwards try) yet they were at home and only had Picamoles to beat? You’ve got 4 irish backs in there. 4 from 7. That doesn’t align with the dire game I saw.

        1. Yes, agreed, hardly gets a look in was an overstatement, I apologise. My head was swayed by the time it took me to reach the first Welsh name, rush of blood, typed too much hyperbole.

          However, I do still think it’s unbalanced to see Ireland’s backs effectively rated as the best of the weekend? As I said – 1 try, at home, against a disinterested French team and that 1 try was a rolling maul.

          1. I’m also still bruised from the team scores … I worked out that of the non-losing teams Wales got the lowest average scores despite a) winning away from home b) beating a team with 2 wins c) scoring as many tries as the other non-losing teams. It’s all seemed unbalanced to me since the weekend, especially given the rightful emphasis on “a win is a win” that I’ve read a million times when other teams dog out dirty wins. England’s win in Ireland comes to mind, which was feted as clinical, professional, etc.

          2. Again you have to take the team scores with a pinch of salt – different people do different teams so it’s too subjective to compare across teams. We’re not a big enough operation to sit down on a Monday morning and discuss it together, people just call it as they see it. A better way of doing it would be to compare Welsh ratings from one week to the next.

          3. Jamie, I’m not expecting consistency or perfection but I will enter the debate when I think there’s something to tangle with.

            I think Wales played a decent game. It wasn’t pretty but Scotland have developed a fantastic defensive system under their new coaches, just ask Ireland. Scotland commit very few to the rucks, have big fast backrowers and centres rarely out of position in the defensive line, so most teams don’t get past them by spinning the ball out, especially at home in freezing and bitter conditions. Wales took the decision to bash it up the middle knowing their superior forwards could probably sneak the game like that for them. So to my mind Phillips and Biggar played the right game for that plan – dinks over the top, snipes around the scrum, inside passes back to the forwards, getting messy with the Scottish backrow. I think this has all been too easily dismissed as poor back play as it assumes the only good back play is open play, even when it results in the team playing it failing to win.

            Wales went up there, played to a plan and won with a decent winning margin. They’re now in with a shout at the championship next weekend. So I do find it a bit jarring to read the low scores and the general slating of the games they played in and it’s been a common theme. Ireland have been given much more praise than Wales yet are sitting there with 1 from 4 yet we are 3 from 4. England have been praised for dogging out tight, poor condition 0-try matches away from home yet Wales get slated for the same. I agree with you that a fans perspective has been some of that but it’s all a little off balance.

            I can’t wait for the “yes, Wales won the 6N but it was a crap 6N” write ups that we always get when Wales in and Fra/Eng don’t. (that was a joke… Even I know it genuinely has been a crap 6N for quality but I think that has been widely spread and not concentrated in just one team).

          4. I genuinely didn’t mean to be slating the Welsh for their win at Murrayfield – as you rightly say Scotland have built some impressive defensive systems and the Welsh managed to overcome them. For that they deserve praise, and that’s fair enough.

            Really, I think we’re all just restless and impatient for the weekend. Even if the rugby is crap you can’t say better than three international matches in a row. Should be immense.

            Also if Wales win it will only be because the referee was rubbish (I can joke too). Although having said that, does it make anyone else nervous that the referee is Steve Walsh? Anyone who’s been banned from refereeing surely shouldn’t be allowed back in for a game of this magnitude.

          5. Until about 7:30 on Sat night I shall be repeating that Steve Walsh is a genuinely lovely bloke. I don’t have anything but nice things to say about him. Lovely hair as well. Genuinely all round one of the best refs who we have ever seen. From what I hear he has a genuine fondness for the English as well.

  4. I’m an Irish fan and want to encourage young Jackson as much as the rest of us, but with my objective hat on I’d give Flood the 10 spot in this team ahead of him. PJ made two belters it’s true, but he missed a much easier one at the start of the 2nd half which could have put the match beyond reach. TF on the other hand went 6/6. But I certainly agree it was a poor selection to choose from.

    1. No JL! I am English and would certainly plump for Jackson over Flood on the weekends perfromance.

      Flood may have kicked well at goal, but his touch finders were missing, and he really didn’t seem sure whether to stick or twist with ball in hand. In my humble opinion he really struggled.

      If you take each others goal-kicking out of the equation, I rather think that Orquera even outplayed him.

      1. I thought Jacksons all round kicking game meant he deserved inclusion given the conditions (add Murray for that reason also). I was at the game and the weather was desperate.

        I do not agree with Healey’s inclusion. I thought it was one of his least effective games. I thought vunipolo was better for england. (though i missed a lot of the game).

        England were lucky to win at the weekend but to win a GS, you need all the luck you can get. If England go and win in Cardiff, I for one will not begrudge them for what is an incredibly difficult task and only getting harder (as italy improve, etc).

        Nonetheless, BOD is our leader (lions included).

    2. The difference is that Flood did was kick all his penalties and make tackles. He offered almost nothing in attack though, and failed to bring inn the players around him. Jackson at least tried to control the game, and played well for someone winning his second cap. Flood on the other hand was the most experience player in that England team, and that is shocking when you watch it again (But I don’t know why you’d want to).

  5. Steve Walsh reffing should be a cause for concern. He seems to dislike the English more than the Welsh though in my opinion. Although from mooching about forums, it seems both sets of fans are equally dreading it.

    The sad thing about all this is that i cant think of an alternative ref that i’d be truly happy with? jeez..

      1. Brighty, I like that answer! Actually he probably has been about the best ref I’ve seen for a while, although there seems to be a paucity about at the moment. Sadly we won’t have him due to conflict of interest.

        Not sure that I agree with you about the Welsh players. Thought AWJ and Warburton were the two outstanding players for you on Saturday. Your front row is working very well at the moment, so no arguments there. Thought Phillips had his best game for quite some time, but Murray played better. Similar for Halfpenny – usual consistent performance, but I had Kearney ahead as I thought he was outstanding. Personally wouldn’t have picked Masi, although he did play well. Ryan Jones played well but once again I thought that there was better on display. Always going to be subjective and a matter of opinion. I tend to look at players individual performances when considering these teams rather than the game that went on around them as you can have standout players in fairly turgid games.

        Have to say that Hibbard, Jones, North and AWJ could all be in my Lions team for the first time after this weekend. Still mulling, but don’t think Wales are being overlooked. They are the form team at the moment – see Howley isn’t that bad….!

    1. What evidence do have have to say Sat ref fav the Welsh more then the English – or is this in jest

      1. Steve Walsh hates the English more than Harinordiquay! Actually I just think he’s a rubbish ref who’s more interested in how he looks and sounds than he is about the rugby around him. I just hope he doesn’t ruin Saturday for all of us.

        1. Would be a real shame if the ref is the focal point come 7pm on Saturday – lets hope for a game to remember regardless of who wins – desperate to see a entertaining game but don’t think it will be Saturday : (

  6. Firstly it’s good to see Brighty back and I have to agree with a lot of what he is saying, how can a player from a losing team, yes he played well, be ahead of a player who is top of the stats, Halfpenny. OK so 9 points went a begging, but he again was the outstanding welsh back, and the for me the top 15 over the weekend. Brighty’s comments on the welsh tactics was spot-on, came with a plan and executed it, W on the board, and a good W. Yes it was not a spectacle to promote the game of Rugby, but for purists it was a good old fashion game where the ball was cared for and gave the welsh another AWAY win. As to the team of the week 15 is a no, for the reasons given and the welsh front row should be picked on-block, best unit of the weekend. I also cannot be doing with all this missed place sentiment over BOD, not Tuilagi’s best, not J Davies best, but still better than BOD.

  7. I feel sorry for poor jamie. Every week he writes us a lovely article to get the debate going and it nearly always descends into petty squabbles. Of course that’s to be expected with brighty and his gushing ongoing love affair with everything and one welsh. Anyway, well done jamie mate. I know it takes some balls to put your writing into a public forum where it can be debated. If you stopped Brighty wouldn’t have anything to complain about anymore!

    1. James, I’m fairly sure Jamie doesn’t need you to feel sorry for him. I’m pretty sure he understands whats going to happen when he puts an article on a widely read rugby blog. I’m sure he’d feel bad if he had zero comments. I’m also (and can be corrected here) of the opinion that he understands and expects disagreement without seeing it as an attack on him.

      As for your comments about my points – I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but some of us love rugby. We love talking about, analysing it, disagreeing vehemently about it. It never descends into abuse (I’ve reread what I’ve written and I’m pretty sure nobody could misconstrue it as a personal attack on Jamie). It’s all about opinions and mine differ from yours but it’s a pity you spent your time attacking me rather than putting yours forward so we could see exactly how they differ. I think your prejudices are clear but what are your opinions? I’d love to hear them as I am sure they are amazing and undoubtedly more than the simple “petty squabbling” of the rest of us.

      As for ongoing love affair with anyone Welsh – have a look at what I’ve written in various comments recently. I’ve rubbished Jamie Roberts. I’ve slated Rob Howley (he’s lucky at the mo). I’ve called for Sam to be dropped regularly (so good to see him back on form on the weekend though).

      1. That’s exactly what I’m getting at? It’s all about the banter? Why couldn’t you see my comment was lighthearted? I’ve played the game for fifteen years and I’m only 22. If that’s not love for it I don’t know what is.

      2. How in any way did I attack you? Retread what I wrote? You’d certainly know if I was launching an attack on you. Albeit it would never happen, I’m not a keyboard warrior.

      3. I comment quite regular as well. I just do it in a less aggressive manner than you and usually take both sides of the argument into account rather than being bullish.

    2. I’m afraid that I totally agree with Welsh David here – good to see Brighty back. Don’t always agree with the one eyed welshman that he is, but he does make some very good points and gets the debate going by keeping up the celtic end of things (although I think the love in with Irish rugby has gone down the pan!).:-)

      Ocassionally hypocritical (Brighty – example of this being your 8 points only 8 points rant the other day – if an Englishman said that, you would have been straight down their throats), but deeply patriotic and prepared to say what he thinks. This forum would be much the poorer without him.

      Right – that’s the end of my defense of the Welsh. Let’s get on with deciding how many points England are going to win by on Saturday……

      Just to point out to those that don’t know me, much of what I’ve just said is tongue in cheek, although some of it is heartfelt. You’ll just have to work out which bits!

      1. It is well know Staggy that home advantage for the Welsh playing at home against england is worth 10 points, thats the championship in the bag.
        As a Welshman I would love this to be the final outcome, however as a true rugby follower, and the way that england have played for the majority of this 6N a 10 point win is not what I will be expecting. I do believe that playing at home will give us the edge and the win, but not sure we will have the points difference at the end of the day to secure the championship. I hope that as both teams will wantthe win that we as rugby followers see the type of game that promotes all that is good in our sport. Living and working in England I do hope that the team deliverers otherwise I will have to put up with part time rugby supports crowing.

        1. Don’t forget we have not won at home for 12 months – not sure how the home advantage will make much difference to be honest

        2. David – I thought that the Welsh were better away from home and playing at the Millenium actually gave the visiting team a 10 point head start! Have to agree – hope it is a good game however it ends up. These are probably the two teams who actually would deserve the championship, so I guess that this is a good way to finish the tournament.

          As for playful banter, I still get a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever anyone mentions Scott Gibbs. Its amazing how many people suddenly found Welsh roots in my part of Devon then!

    3. Thanks James, nice to have someone stick up for me!

      Ha, in all seriousness though the whole point is to create some debate and most of the articles posted are deeply subjective anyway – I would hate to see the day when everyone agreed with everything I said as it would make for a pretty boring blog.

  8. Only 1 Englishman in the team of the week when we defeated the team that played the best rugby and 10 of the team were on non-winning sides? What have you been smoking?

    Healey and Murray would be the only Irish players I would pick this week. A N Other is pushing pretty hard for selection at 10-13, but I would still say that Tuilagi did more than BOD. Garcia was the only 12 that made any positive contribution in any of the games and I would pick Biggar at 10 as he was the only 10 that managed to control a game in anyway shape or form.

    Although Massi was MotM some of Halfpenny’s work under the high ball was amazing so I would have him shade it at 15.

    1. The first paragraph was wrapped in some XML style tags saying “mock outrage” looks like these get stripped off in submission ….

  9. With Ryan Jones out who should be captain and will it be a selection nightmare for Howley – Coombes, Tipuric ot Shingler

Comments are closed.