The Six Nations returned with a bang this weekend as Wales, Scotland and England all emerged victorious in the opening round of fixtures.
Wales and France got things underway on Friday evening, with Warren Gatland’s side staging a remarkable second-half turn around to earn a 24-19 win at Stade de France.
The remaining four teams began their respective campaigns on Saturday, with Scotland entertaining Italy and defending champions Ireland hosting England.
Scotland romped to a 33-20 bonus-point win against the Italians, with Ireland suffering a home defeat in the competition for the first time in six years as they went down 32-20 against Eddie Jones’ England.
There were plenty of stand-out performances in the opening round of fixtures, so here at Read Rugby Union, we’ve decided to name our ‘Team of the Week’ for round one.
1. Mako Vunipola - England
England loosehead Mako Vunipola led the physical battle for Eddie Jones’ side against Ireland, with Joe Schmidt admitting after the defeat that his side got ‘bullied’ by England. Vunipola made an impressive 27 tackles and 11 carries during the victory.
2. Jamie George - England
Another solid display from Jamie George helped England to victory in Dublin. Despite a couple of mistakes at the lineout, George weighed in with 18 tackles, missing just one.
3. Stuart McInally – Scotland
Stuart McInally put in a faultless display in Scotland’s win over Italy, missing none of his tackles along with producing some impressive carries.
4. Maro Itoje - England
Maro Itoje put in a solid display before coming off injured in the second half. Itoje is set to have a scan after suffering suspected knee ligament damage and Eddie Jones will be hoping the 24-year-old’s injury isn’t as serious as first feared after his impressive performance.
5. Alun Wyn Jones – Wales
Wales captain Alun-Wyn Jones maintained his high standards in the victory over France. The experienced second row rallied his teammates to come back from 16-0 down at the interval to win 24-19.
6. Justin Tipuric – Wales
Flanker Justin Tipuric put in a defensive masterclass in Wales’ dramatic win in France. It wasn’t just Tipuric’s defensive performance that came in for praise, with many complimenting the flanker for his all-round game.
7. Josh van der Flier - Ireland
Josh van der Flier was Ireland’s standout performer in the defeat to England on Saturday. Despite Joe Schmidt admitting his side got bullied by England, the 25-year-old flanker was perhaps the only Irish player who got stuck into the English pack throughout.
8. Louis Picamoles - France
Despite suffering a heartbreaking defeat to Wales on Friday, Louis Picamoles picks up the number eight position. The 32-year-old claimed the first try of the tournament and prevented Liam Williams shortly after with a superb tackle.
9. Tomos Williams - Wales
Wales halfback Tomos Williams looked composed on his first Six Nations appearance. The 24-year-old excelled with his kicking and passing and capped off his debut with a try.
10. Finn Russell - Scotland
Fly-half Finn Russell continued his fine form this season in Scotland’s win over Italy. Russell played a key role in three tries on Saturday and also kicked a conversion to wrap up an excellent display.
11. Blair Kinghorn - Scotland
Winger Blair Kinghorn was in superb finishing form at Murrayfield on Saturday. The 22-year-old scored three of Scotland’s five tries and also put in a solid display in defence.
12. Manu Tuilagi - England
Despite making his first Six Nations appearance since 2013, Manu Tuilagi put in a dominant display in Dublin. Tuilagi’s first carry of the game led to the opening try for Jonny May, with the 27-year-old making numerous hard-hitting tackles throughout.
13. Henry Slade - England
Centre Henry Slade played a huge role in England’s opening win. The 25-year-old grabbed a brace on Saturday to secure the win for Eddie Jones’ side, with his energetic work rate proving influential in both attack and defence.
14. George North - Wales
Wales’ man of the match George North had to be included in the team of the week. North scored two tries against France, including the match winner, which took him past Gareth Edwards’s tally of 18 in the tournament. Only Shane Williams has more Six Nations tries than North, however, if the 22-year-old continues his fine form, he could well break Williams’ record by the end of the campaign.
15. Stuart Hogg - Scotland
Scottish fullback Stuart Hogg put in an excellent display against Italy. The pacey fullback scored and laid on an assist on Saturday, ensuring Scotland won their opening fixture for just the third time in 20 attempts.
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