With Scotland the surprise winners of their clash over in Paris on Friday night, so draws a close to what has been a scintillating tournament of Six Nations rugby. There is plenty to be happy about as a neutral and even more to be happy about if you're a Welshman. We controversially predicted Wales to win this tournament ahead of time and wouldn't you know it, here they are! How will they dominate the Scrum Recap 'Team of the Tournament'? Well let's find out!
1. Wyn Jones (Wales)
This was a tough call, but when all was said and done, we had to take into the account Wyn Jones' game changing moments. Even though he was excellent at scrum time, it was his fringe work that got our vote. Seeing a prop so capable of stealing ball on the deck, kept us guessing as to how many Flankers Wales had on the pitch. Wyn Jones was wily in the loose, effective when drawing players and often topped the tackle count; he definitely played his way right into the Lions starting journey.
2. Julien Marchand (France)
This is one of the easiest picks on the list, Marchand is the future of front row Rugby. Not only is he strong in the collision in defence, he's a powerhouse with ball in hand and that's what separated him from other Hookers this year. Even though you had the likes of Cowan Dickie and Bigi starting most games who are notorious battering rams, their sheer tackle breaking ability couldn't match Marchand's thunderous thighs. Marchand is also deadly over the ball, often winning France crucial penalties with his jackaling ability.
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
Furlong looked back to his best this competition, especially as it reached it's latter stages. With perhaps the best step in the northern hemisphere, Furlong can change a game with his sheer agility... All jokes aside, Furlong is a Tighthead props nightmare to come across. He won't just eat you at every scrum, he will fold you like a deck chair in defence and will give you the choice of being steamrolled or humiliatingly stepped in attack. His performance against England in particular showed a glimpse of what he's truly capable of, and that was against some world class talent too!
4. Iain Henderson (Ireland)
MORE. RESPECT. NEEDED. Iain Henderson is legitimately a favourite for 'Player of the Tournament' . His stats vastly out perform anyone else in his position and even leak into other areas that you wouldn't expect a lock to be so proficient in. Aggressive, resilient, intelligent are just some of the superlatives you could use to describe his game-by-game contributions. He's a top tackler, one of the best at the breakdown, adds his considerable weight into each scrum, fantastic at the lineout (one of Ireland's shining glories) and just doesn't stop; his gas tank is insane for a player of his size.
5. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
Kind of cheating here since Beirne did play a lot of his Rugby in the back row this Six Nations, but he's another with a definite shout of being crowned 'Player of the Tournament'. The scary thing about this new-look Irish side is that they just don't lose ball at the rucks. Beirne is a huge part of that, being an incredibly effective jackaler whilst also often disrupting opposition ball. His tackling is ferocious too but that's usually due to his effective defensive positioning; he always looks as if he hits someone that isn't expecting it, perhaps that's down to his surprising acceleration into the tackle. His ball carrying is also really impressive and he adds an extra dimension into this Irish attack.
6. Tom Curry (England)
Again, kind of cheating here as Curry played the majority of his Rugby at 7 throughout the competition, but there is no denying that he was England's best player throughout the competition. Although he struggled with the size of the Irish strike runners, you cannot doubt his sheer tenacity with ball in hand; the guy wants to hurt people, whether he's got the ball in hand or not. He's a real all rounder, capable of disrupting and winning ball when needed, able to beat a man in a one on one collision and he has a real work rate that doesn't ever falter throughout the full 80 minutes. Another great tournament from the young Flanker.
7. Hamish Watson (Scotland)
This guy has to start with the Lions. I did notice in the final game, a lot of pundits doubted his collisions with the bigger French forwards, but he still made over 80 metres from 13 carries; that is elite/world class level. His ball carrying his notorious, his fringe work has massively improved and two man of the match awards one after the other prove he's not a 'hot and cold' player anymore. He hits like a freight train too and spent a lot of the first game man handling the likes of Vunipola and Wilson; no mean feat.
8. Taulupe Faletau (Wales)
Another player that fans seem to enjoy disregarding, Faletau is an absolute baller. A lot of talk is based around Tipuric's all round game with emphasis on his soft hands and decisive pace, but Faletau offloads more than any other backrower and often creates gaps that just aren't there. He always gets his arms through a tackle and is happy to get smashed to open a hole for another strike runner to burst through. He's also lethal on the deck, constantly jackaling and disrupting opposition ball; close between him and Alldrit for this position, but I think throughout the tournament, Faletau has edged the frenchman on game-changing contributions.
9. Antoine Dupont (France)
Could it go to anyone else? Dupont had another stunning tournament with all the flash and glamour you'd expect from the modern face of French Rugby. His support lines created countless scoring opportunities, his service off of the deck was the fastest in the competition, his box kicking was largely efficient and awkward, and his sniping runs are quickly becoming stuff of French mythology. I did think he had one or two shakey moments, namely against England and Scotland, but unfortunately the quality at 9 throughout the competition meant that he was rarely overlooked as one of the key players of the tournament.
10. Dan Biggar (Wales)
I imagine this shout is really controversial! Look, if Jalibert stayed fit and led France to a Grand Slam, we might be saying something very different, but Biggar went about his business like a truly classy 10 throughout this tournament. His bombs have always been underrated, but they caused the likes of England and Scotland absolute nightmares, and in general, his tactical kicking game allowed Wales to constantly play Rugby in the right parts of the field. Also Wales' much improved attack is no coincidence, with Biggar looking far more assured in taking the ball to the line or opening up defences with decisive running moves; of all the Fly Halves in the competition, it feels like Biggar hesitates the least.
11. Duhan Van Der Merwe (Scotland)
Top try scorer in the competition, one of top performers in metres gained, top performer in tackles broke, Van Der Merwe is an absolute titan for Scotland out wide and has given them an option that they haven't really had historically; sheer power on the outside. Lazy comparisons to Lamont aside, Van Der Merwe is just a beast with ball in hand, combining speed, power and footwork to often beat his opposite man. He ran riot against Italy and wasn't afraid to punch holes into a very resolute French side.
12. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
Henshaw looks back to his best and thank God it's during Lions year! Henshaw can do it all, beat a man, tackle, kick, field high balls, disrupt in rucks, lead choke tackles; he was a phenom for Ireland throughout the competition despite their backline often being signalled as dysfunctional. Despite a great game against England, a lot of people are quick to forget Sexton's really poor service to his Centres in the first two games; it didn't improve when he came off for injuries either. Henshaw often made the most of really scrappy ball and cleaned up some horror shows thrown in the half backs.
13. George North (Wales)
Even though his tournament grew quieter towards the end, it's important to remember that without North, Wales aren't winning those first two games of the tournament. His transition to outside centre has been surprisingly smooth and getting him on the ball more and more often has led to Wales' attack being far more proficient. Not only is he still the beast with ball in hand which we know him to be, he's showcased his silky hands and interesting running lines throughout this competition. Also, he still has a Wingers set of heels, meaning that he often ran around tiring opposite numbers which usually led to an LRZ score in the corner.
14. Louis Rees - Zammit (Wales)
20 years old.... Just 20 years old... This kid potentially has three Lions tours him in, heck, if his knees don't go in his old age, he could have four! What really impressed me about LRZ, weren't his finishes, his ability to beat his opposite number and his sheer pace, I already knew about all of that, but it was his defence. There were three occasion's in this tournament of which he made a try saving tackle, either running back towards his own goal line, or by disrupting an overlap. In a competition as close as this, that's all it takes to win a trophy. I'm yet to really see a weakness in his game... Oh and did I mention that he can kick?
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
It feels really, really good putting Hoggy here after all the stick he got last tournament. Sure, he still has a howler in him, but Hogg is one of the most terrifying attackers in the northern hemisphere and now is comfortable the best 15 in Europe. Against Wales in particular, you couldn't help but stare with you jaw against the carpet watching him cut through that red wall like a knife through butter. His boot is still a weapon that teams struggle to defend against and now that he can fill in at 10, is he the second best 10 in this Scottish squad? Hastings be worried!