Rugby fans have well and truly been starved of action this weekend. Not only is it a Six Nations fallow week but a number of rugby fixtures were postponed due to the adverse weather conditions engulfing the UK and Ireland.
With that in mind, it’s a good time to take stock on the three rounds of Six Nations which have taken place thus far. You may have seen our team of the weekend pieces which we produced for Round 1, Round 2 and Round 3.
Here, we produce our team of the tournament so far. We take into account a player’s performance across all three rounds – just because a player was immense in Round 3, it doesn’t necessarily mean he will make it into this team, for example.
Pundit Arena’s Team Of The Six Nations After Three Rounds:
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
Stuart Hogg has been the standout performer at full-back across all six competing nations. He has averaged 84 metres per game and his standout performance was against France where the 25-year-old made a whopping 123 metres.
Assured under the high ball and devastating with ball in hand, it will take a huge step up in quality from the other full-backs to dislodge Hogg.
14.Keith Earls (Ireland)
The Munster man may only have one try to his name after three games but the 30-year-old is playing the best rugby of his career. In his three games to date, the Moyross native has scythed through opposition defences, produced wonderful offloads and has been a revelation under the high ball.
When the player of the tournament is discussed, Earls will certainly be in the mix.
13. Huw Jones (Scotland)
Huw Jones will always be remembered for the brace of tries he scored against England as Scotland won their first Calcutta Cup in a decade. He has been the bright spark for Scotland throughout this competition and he even impressed in their disappointing defeat to Wales at the Principality Stadium.
Jones isn’t the finished article yet and he has to work on some aspects of his defence but at 24-years-old, he looks to have a long and successful international career ahead of him.
12. Owen Farrell (England)
Owen Farrell remains one of the best players in world rugby, despite some issues in defence in the Six Nations so far. Uncharacteristically, he has fallen off tackles in recent games but he still gets in here due to his world-class ability with the ball in hand.
Farrell makes this England team tick and he was on another level against Wales at Twickenham. Even against Scotland, he scored all of his side’s points and looked like one of the few England players, along with Joe Lauchbury, who were up for the fight.
His talents may be best suited to the out-half position, especially if he has physical 12 who can provide him with more protection.
11. Jacob Stockdale (Ireland)
Jacob Stockdale has made seven appearances for Ireland since making his international debut last summer and in that time he has scored eight tries. Eight tries in seven games – a phenomenal record. He has four tries to his name thus far in the Six Nations after braces against Italy and Wales.
He wasn’t at his best for Ulster over the festive period but his ability to bounce back to his best, at a higher level, is very impressive.
Looks a shoe-in to be one of the players of the tournament.
10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
Despite an off day with the boot against Wales, Johnny Sexton still managed to guide Ireland to victory with some excellent link-up play and territorial kicking last Saturday. Despite concerns about a back injury going into that game, which may have affected his kicking, he was still as classy as ever.
His drop-goal exploits against France won’t be forgotten soon and he is without a doubt, the standout out-half of the competition so far.
9. Conor Murray (Ireland)
Conor Murray hasn’t made it into our team of the weekend for any of the three previous rounds but this isn’t a slight on the player – it’s purely because he performs at such a high and consistent level, it’s no longer a suprise.
Arguably the world’s best scrum-half, his importance to Ireland is almost incomprehensible. If he stays fit, Ireland have a great chance of winning the Grand Slam.
1. Cian Healy (Ireland)
Cian Healy’s return to the peak of his powers is one of the stories of the season. For the last number of years, he has played second-fiddle to Jack McGrath but he has gone up another gear this year to return as one of the strongest looseheads in Europe.
His scrummaging seems to have improved and there hasn’t been a tighthead which has gotten the better of him yet, impressive when you think he was up against Rabah Slimani in Paris on the first weekend.
2. Guilhem Guirado (France)
If France have been unpredictable and inconsistent then at least their captain Guilhem Guirado has been excellent throughout. He leads by example with his defensive efforts, putting in a ridiculous 31 tackles against Ireland in Paris.
He’s strong in the set-piece and is lineout throwing is solid – Guirado is the man which France need to build their forwards around and if he can keep leading by example, you would expect the rest of his teammates to follow soon.
3. Andrew Porter (Ireland)
Andrew Porter looks at home at international level since taking over from Tadhg Furlong who was removed early on against Italy due to a hamstring injury. He poses a threat in the loose and he is rock-solid in the scrum.
This is all the more impressive when you consider Porter only switched from being a loosehead last year due to the vast number of players in that position within Leinster.
4. Joe Launchbury (England)
If there was one player who stood out for England at Murrayfield then it was Joe Launchbury. The guy just loves work. 19 tackles against Wales, 14 against Scotland and 11 against Italy, Launchbury doesn’t shirk when it comes to his defensive responsibilities.
He has carried with considerable aggression in the last three games and he is always looking to get his hands on the ball, often getting to the ruck before his own scrum-half. A bright light for England on an otherwise dismal day in Edinburgh.
5. Jonny Gray (Scotland)
Led the Scottish pack in the opening two fixtures against Wales and France while he got some improved help from his colleagues in the Calcutta Cup win against England. Like Launchbury, Gray has a huge work-rate when it comes to defensive duties and he posted a huge 24 tackles against Eddie Jones’ side at Murrayfield.
6. Aaron Shingler (Wales)
This was a real tough one as John Barclay has been really good for Scotland, too. However, we’re giving it to Aaron Shingler because he led an incredible back-row effort against Scotland and England in their opening two games.
Shingler has been making linebreaks for fun so far in the Six Nations and although he will be disappointed he got bested by the opposition in Dublin last weekend, he was still able to touch down for a try which almost secured a memorable comeback.
A great engine, Shingler rarely tires and his tackle-count is often around the 20-mark.
7. Dan Leavy (Ireland)
First Sean O’Brien wasn’t available, then Josh van der Flier got injured, so essentially Ireland were down to their third-choice openside in Dan Leavy. However, the Leinster man has been incredible since coming into the team for his provincial colleague.
He is a turnover machine and his ability on the deck has been a pain in the backside for any team he has come up against. Ireland should not worry with this man at the helm and if O’Brien does return to fitness by the end of the campaign, he will have a tough job taking the jersey off Leavy.
8. CJ Stander (Ireland)
CJ Stander’s role in this Irish team should not be underestimated or underappreciated. Often, he is the go-to man to generate go-forward momentum for his side – an unenviable task. Often, Stander has to go from a standing position and put his head where it hurts but he does it without no fuss and rarely slows down throughout the game.
21 carries against Wales, 24 against France and 13 against Italy (Stander came on at half-time), Stander does the hard work and there are few players in the Six Nations which can match his appetite.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Mako Vunipola, Samson Lee, James Ryan, John Barclay, Greig Laidlaw, Finn Russell, Anthony Watson.