Home Rugby Opinion: The Greatest Six Nations XV Of All Time

Opinion: The Greatest Six Nations XV Of All Time

The Six Nations is almost upon us, and with just one week to go, excitement is reaching fever pitch.

This week, a lot of discussion focused on what is the best XV of the Six Nations era, since Italy joined in 2000. Here at Pundit Arena HQ, we are never ones to shy away from a debate, so have drawn up what we believe to be the greatest.

As always, it is just one opinion, and we would love to hear yours. Feel free to get in touch on our Facebook page.

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15. Jason Robinson

Although we would ideally have the former rugby league star on the wing, we have put him at fullback to make room elsewhere. Gareth Thomas does make a case for inclusion, but Robinson’s speed and finishing make it impossible to omit him.

30 Jun 2001:  Jason Robinson of British Lions takes on the Australia defence during the First Test Match against the Australian Wallabies at the Gabba Stadium in Brisbane, Australia.  The Lions beat Australia 29 - 13. Mandatory Credit: Dave Rogers/Allsport

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14. Christophe Dominici

Was Dominici the greatest finisher the Six Nations has ever seen? He broke the hearts of oppositions on many an occasion. The 5 ft 7 in flyer could hurt a team out of nowhere, and was revered as one of the classiest wingers in the world.

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13. Brian O’Driscoll

This is a non-issue. The Leinster and Ireland centre was one of the best players in the world for over a decade, and led Ireland to many famous victories. His performances throughout the 2009 Grand Slam will go down as one of the best by any player.

Ireland v Italy - RBS Six Nations

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12. Yannick Jauzion

This was a tough call, with Jamie Roberts and Will Greenwood also making strong cases. However, we haven given the former French star the nod. The Toulouse centre was a key part of the Grand Slam-winning sides in 2002 and 2004, and led the charge to the 2007 championship having missed 2006 through injury. He was an all-round footballer, and a dynamic presence in the midfield.

PARIS - MARCH 14:  Yannick Jauzion of France dives over to score a try during the RBS Six Nations match between France v Italy at Stade de France on March 14, 2010 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

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11. Shane Williams

The former IRB Player of the Year was a menace to opposition defences even when Wales were struggling at the foot of the table. Like O’Driscoll, it would be hard to make a case against his inclusion.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 18:  Shane Williams of the Lions runs with the ball during the International tour match between the ACT Brumbies and the British & Irish Lions at Canberra Stadium on June 18, 2013 in Canberra, Australia.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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10. Jonny Wilkinson

This was the toughest call to make. Ronan O’Gara produced the goods over a longer period of time, and has made a greater impact on the tournament as a whole. However, Wilkinson was unrivalled at his best. In 2003, he was unplayable as the Red Rose marched to a Grand Slam title.

RBS 6 Nations: Ireland v England

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9. Mike Phillips

The giant scrum-half was central to Wales’ upturn in fortunes, and paved the way for a new style of 9 in rugby union. His strength at the base forced defences to think differently, and he featured on two Lions tours as a result.

CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 15:  Wales player Mike Phillips in action during the International match between Wales and Fiji at Millennium Stadium on November 15, 2014 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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1. Gethin Jenkins

Wales’ most capped player has been a rock in the scrum throughout the Six Nations, and featured on three Lions tours. He remains one of the few Welsh players to collect three Grand Slams, and produced the goods consistently over a longer period than any other suitors to this jersey.

CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 15:  Wales player Gethin Jenkins in action during the International match between Wales and Fiji at Millennium Stadium on November 15, 2014 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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2. Keith Wood

Wood was prominent in the first four seasons of the Six Nations, and was respected all over the world as the finest hooker in the game. Indeed, he was awarded the IRB Player of the Year award in 2001.

1 Apr 2000:  Keith Wood of Ireland in action during the Six Nations Championships game between Ireland and Wales at Lansdowne Road in Dublin, Ireland. The game finished 19-23 to Wales.  Mandatory Credit: Michael Cooper /Allsport

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3. Adam Jones

The question of the Six Nations’ greatest tighthead only has one answer. Jones is a shoo-in due his consistency over the years. Wales never struggled at the scrum with him, and like Jenkins, has won three Grand Slams.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08:  Adam Jones of Wales looks on during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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4. Martin Johnson

The fact that a player of the caliber of Fabien Pelous is not in this side is a testament to the high quality available. Johnson was a true leader for England as they dominated the early years of the Six Nations.

24 Nov 2001:  England captain Martin Johnson breaks forward during the Investec Challenge match between England and South Africa at Twickenham, London. DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: David Cannon/ALLSPORT

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5. Paul O’Connell

The Munster colossus has bowed out, and will be sorely missed by Ireland this year. He was named Player of the Tournament last year, and few would begrudge him that honour. O’Connell was a leader throughout his Ireland career.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 08: Paul O'Connell of Ireland in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy at Aviva Stadium on March 8, 2014 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

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6. Sean O’Brien

The ‘Tullow Tank’ has been a revelation since breaking into the Ireland side. The 2011 European Player of the Year offers impact in spades, and is always likely to barrel over a defender to break the gain-line. He sneaks ahead of Thierry Dusautoir for us.

CARDIFF, WALES - SEPTEMBER 19:  Sean O'Brien of Ireland breaks through the tackle of Matt Evans of Canada during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between Ireland and Canada at the Millennium Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

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7. Serge Betsen

Betson was one of the finest flankers around for the first few years after Italy’s inception into the tournament. He fitted the bill as a traditional French openside, putting in an incredible shift around the park. The fact that he was playing in the Premiership up until the age of 37 speaks for itself.

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 30:  Serge Betsen of France is tackled by Bidzina Samkharadze of Georgia during Match Thirty Eight of the Rugby World Cup 2007 between France and Georgia at the Stade Velodrome on September 30, 2007 in Marseille, France.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

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8. Sergio Parisse

Sorry, Lawrence Dallaglio and Imanol Harinordoquy, but this is not up for debate. Parisse is the complete number 8, and is fully deserving of his place on this team. While Italy have constantly struggled in the competition, Parisse has proven time and time again to be world-class.

CARDIFF, WALES - FEBRUARY 01:  Sergio Parisse (L) of Italy holds off the challenge of Leigh Halfpenny (R) of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Wales and Italy at the Millenium Stadium on February 1, 2014 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

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Breakdown:

Ireland: 4

Wales: 4

England: 3

France: 3

Italy: 1

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Do you agree/disagree? As always, we would love to know your thoughts, so head on over to our rugby Facebook page to join the debate.

Brian Barry, Pundit Arena

About Brian Barry