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2020 Guinness Six Nations: Players of the Tournament

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2020 Guinness Six Nations: Players of the Tournament

Despite the opening round of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations taking place on the 1st of February, the tournament only came to a conclusion this weekend past.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the final round of fixtures was played behind closed doors on Halloween night, Sunday 31st October 2020.

On the final day, three teams were in contention to lift the trophy, however, it was England who came out on top to claim their 29th Six Nations title after a comfortable 34-5 win over Italy at the Stadio Olimpico.

France managed a 35-27 win at home to Ireland in the last round to finish second behind England only on points difference.

The 2020 Six Nations, which spanned over nine months, was like none other yet provided us with the same excitement and entertainment that it brings every year. In this article, I take a look at five players who I think stood out from the rest and did their countries proud in the 21st annual competition.

 

Romain Ntamack

At just 21-years-old, France’s Romain Ntamack has lit up the rugby scene since making his debut for ‘Les Bleus’ in February 2019. The fly-half finished as top points scorer in this year’s tournament with 57 which included three tries in three separate games. Ntamack was awarded World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year for 2019 and since then has gone from strength to strength. His confidence and swagger on the pitch is clear for all to see. He reads the game with real maturity and is deadly from the tee. With so many years left in his career, Ntamack has the potential to go down as a great at the Stade de France.

 

Jamie Ritchie

Dundee-born flanker Jamie Ritchie plays his rugby in Scotland’s capital for Edinburgh and has been a key part of the national side since his debut in 2018. Standing at 6ft4 tall and weighing in at 108kg, Ritchie has already made over 20 appearances for Scotland and is still just 24-years-old. He started every single game of this year’s tournament and has been an integral part of the success that Scotland has had in recent years.

He received the man of the match on Sunday in a win that saw Scotland beat Wales away from home for the first time in 18 years and finish in fourth, level on points with Ireland and six ahead of Wales. Ritchie’s incredible stamina and commitment allows him to effectively put his body on the line for the full 80 minutes, game after game and will look to continue doing so in the blue of a Scotland jersey for years to come.

 

Tom Curry

Next on the list is title-winning back-row Tom Curry. Like his Scottish counterpart, Curry also started in all five of England’s games this year – four at No.8 and one at flanker. The Sale Sharks man was a huge lift for Eddie Jones’ side going forward in attack. His ability to always break the gain line and push for those extra meters is what helped him make 47 successful carries in the tournament, topping the list for England.

Curry’s work in defence also played a big role for his team as he made 72 successful tackles – sixth most out of any player over the five rounds. Extraordinarily, it seems Curry has locked in a spot in the starting XV for England at just 22-years-old and ahead of a number of other big-name back-rowers. If he can maintain this kind of form over the next eight months, Curry may just find himself on the plane to South Africa with the British and Irish Lions.

 

Bundee Aki

Ireland will be disappointed to have finished in third this year knowing that they had the chance to claim the trophy on the last day in Paris. One man that should not be disappointed with his performances this year, however, is Irish star Bundee Aki. The powerhouse centre, who can comfortably play at both 12 and 13, was the shining light in a somewhat inconsistent Ireland side.

Aki’s strong games in midfield are what allowed Ireland to stay just within touching distance of England and France, which made for a scintillating tournament conclusion. The Connacht back carried 50 times for his side, making 366 metres in total – fifth-best overall. Now at 30-years-old, Ireland will be hoping the New Zealand-born centre still has a good few years left in green.

 

Antoine Dupont

Last but not least, and possibly most unsurprisingly, is French scrum-half Antoine Dupont. Many would feel it fair to say that Dupont’s performances this year have been one of the best individually in a Six Nations Championship for a number of years. At just 23-years-old, he has muscled his way into the starting XV at the Stade de France ahead of Baptiste Serin, and shows no sign of giving up the No.9 jersey any time soon.

Dupont’s ability to control the tempo of the game to France’s advantage, and his vision and accuracy of kicks from hand, make him one of the best scrum-halves in World Rugby at this moment in time. Needless to say, he will be one of the first names on the team sheet for France for many years to come.

 

Honourable Mentions:

  1. Alun Wyn Jones – 149 career Test matches are nothing short of remarkable. He has been an iconic player for not only Wales and the Lions, but for the sport of rugby as a whole. Additionally, in this year’s tournament alone, he made 71 successful tackles and won nine line-outs.
  2. Gregory Alldritt – Picking up three MOTM awards this year, 23-year-old Alldritt was one of the stand-out players of the tournament. Making 66 carriers and gaining 398 meters, the La Rochelle man looked more than comfortable in the back-row of a very impressive French forward pack.
  3. Josh Adams – Despite Wales having a more than disappointing season this time out – finishing fifth in a title retention bid, Adams should be happy with how he went about playing his game. The winger scored three tries and recorded two try assists in just four games. Certainly a beacon of hope for Welsh rugby fans.

 

We hope you enjoyed the article ‘2020 Guinness Six Nations: Players of the Tournament.’ Who was your player of the tournament? Let us know!

 

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A recent Sports Journalism graduate from the University of Sunderland, Ross has had a passion for sport his whole life. Originally from Edinburgh, Ross is a keen sportsman, having previously captained both his school football and his university rugby teams. Ross is our current Sporting Ferret Instagram manager and continues to pursue a career in the sports media industry. You can contact Ross at: rsanderson1998@gmail.com

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