Six Nations - Team of the Championship
March 20, 2011
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll celebrates his side's victory over England © Getty Images
Chris Ashton Mirco Bergamasco Martin Castrogiovanni Jonathan Davies Thomas Domingo Toby Flood Richie Gray Dylan Hartley Sean O'Brien Brian O'Driscoll Tom Palmer Sergio Parisse Morgan Parra Chris Paterson Sam Warburton
As the dust settles on another Six Nations, we select our Team of the Championship - which country dominates our selection?
15. Chris Paterson (Scotland)
The veteran fullback rolled back the years with two superb tackles to deny England's Ben Foden and Italy's Luke McLean and was also as reliable as ever with the boot. Injury opened the door for his return to the Six Nations stage and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
14. Chris Ashton (England)
The Championship's leading try-scorer exploded into life with brace against Wales and a four-try haul against Italy. In the process he equalled the Six Nations record held by England's Will Greenwood and Wales' Shane Williams. He was unable to add to his tally and break the record but there can be no doubt about his reputation as a world-class finisher.
13. Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland)
BOD was destined for legendary status long before this year's Six Nations but he offered a reminder of what a special talent he is by becoming the Championship's all-time leading try-scorer - his three tries carrying him past the mark of Scotland's Ian Smith. How lucky we are to witness one of the all-time greats in his pomp. Age cannot wither him.
12. Jonathan Davies (Wales)
Injuries allowed Davies the chance to nail down a spot in the Welsh back division and he did not waste the opportunity. A hamstring strain denied him a full-house of appearances and he may have escaped a potential citing for a trip against England but his game definitely benefited from the exposure.
11. Mirco Bergamasco (Italy)
The Azzurri winger may not have been a dazzling threat out wide but his you cannot underestimate his contribution to Italy's campaign having kicked his side to an historic victory over France in Rome. A little bit more refinement and Italy will be beating the best more often.
10. Toby Flood (England)
His rivals may have made more impressive cameos but Flood's consistency propelled England to the title and the brink of a Grand Slam. He dictated much of his side's creativity and bagged 50 points in the process to top the scoring charts. Just could not get the job done in Dublin.
9. Morgan Parra (France)
The multi-skilled scrum-half may have suffered at the hands of coach Marc Lievremont's selection policy but still gave Flood a run for his money in the scoring charts. His try against Italy could not prevent an upset in Rome but he endeavoured to keep his off-colour side from self-destructing.
1. Thomas Domingo (France)
The French loose-head dished out a scrummaging lesson against the Scots and his power-packed brand of rugby was at the heart of what Les Bleus managed to get right in this year's Championship. And having been rested in Rome he can wash his hands of the that game.
2. Dylan Hartley (England)
Wales tried to unsettle the England hooker on the eve of the Six Nations opener but to his credit he shrugged off those verbal barbs and did his talking on the pitch with a controlled and measured display - two common themes throughout his Championship showing.
3. Martin Castrogiovanni (Italy)
A hat-trick of appearances in our Team of the Week illustrate how the Italian tight-head took on all-comers and won. A cornerstone of an Italy side that shocked France and worried Ireland and Wales, he is a powerful ball carrier who racked up the metres with ball in hand when he wasn't doing his best impression of a rock at scrum time.
4. Richie Gray (Scotland)
The young Scot would surely be in the mix for the Player of the Championship if it were not for some dodgy criteria. His impressive industry in defence and attack gave the Scots another dimension and his emergence as a top class talent is a huge positive from a largely disappointing campaign.
5. Tom Palmer (England)
An assured presence throughout the Championship, England sorely missed his influence in Dublin. He was rewarded with the Man of the Match honour for his display against France but his lung-busting efforts were not limited to that game. A tower of strength.
6. Sean O'Brien (Ireland)
A rising star of the international game, the 24-year-old continues to attract plaudits and rightly so. Deployed first at No.8 in the opener against Italy before being switched to the flank following the return of team-mate Jamie Heaslip, he has torn into defences with ball in hand while shackling his rivals.
7. Sam Warburton (Wales)
Another young talent who appears destined for big things. Some may have been concerned about Martyn Williams' absence from the Wales squad at the start of the Championship but not anymore with the athletic and influential Warburton now finding the No.7 shirt to be a perfect fit.
8. Sergio Parisse (Italy)
Italy's captain cemented his status as one of the world's best players with a series of outstanding displays. He is an awesome presence with ball in hand and tenacious in defence but those attributes are arguably over-shadowed by his inspirational leadership.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park
The latest Week in Pictures takes in photographs from the Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the southern hemisphere domestic scene
As Ray McLoughlin prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday, Huw Richards pays tribute to the man and the selectors who had the wisdom to bring him into the Ireland fold