Stuart Barnes picks his composite team from the opening round of the championship


2022 Six Nations Team of Round One

There was plenty of drama on the opening weekend of the 2022 Six Nations, from Scotland retaining the Calcutta Cup to Gabin Villiere’s hat-trick to Ireland’s commanding performance against Wales, with Andrew Conway scoring a brace.

But who were the players who stood out? Former England and Lions fly-half Stuart Barnes selects his composite team of the best performers from the first round of the championship.

2022 Six Nations Team of Round One

15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

He wasn’t perfect but he played with a courage and conviction that seemed to inspire his colleagues around him. England failed to test his aerial game, allowing him to grow as a dominant force.

France’s Melvyn Jaminet also deserves a mention for a fine, rounded performance in Paris.

14. Darcy Graham (Scotland)

All over the pitch in Edinburgh; a tremendous work-rate but it was the break he made for the Ben White try and his presence on the right touchline that forced Luke Cowan-Dickie into momentary madness that swung this game Scotland’s way. A tremendous performance.

13. Garry Ringrose (Ireland) 

Scored a superb solo try but it was the consistently clever running lines that stood out in Dublin. That and the exquisite timing of his defensive interventions from outside-centre.

Back from injury and near his best, he is an ideal foil for Johnny Sexton’s looping game on the gain-line.

12. Jonathan Danty (France)

He shaded the impressive Bundee Aki. The pull back pass leading to Gabin Villiere’s opening try was a thing of beauty while a little chip through close to the line with Italy expecting a barrelling run was smart. The barrelling run in the second half was only stopped centimetres short of the try-line.

11. Gabin Villiere (France)

His hat-trick earned the headlines and a place in this team, with his running lines for the second of the trio a splendid reminder of his days as a sevens player.

He is an unorthodox left wing who’ll as readily duck under an opponent as try to step him.

10. Finn Russell (Scotland)

Produced the highest class of decision-making and execution when Scotland most needed it.

The double cross-field kick leading to the penalty try was sublime and the drilled kick to the corner, leading to the Joe Marler lineout fiasco, a penalty and his match-winning kick, was magnificent.

9. Ben White (Scotland)

Had the most memorable of debuts, coming on as a temporary replacement in the first half for Ali Price and running an Antoine Dupont like support line to score for Scotland.

The Frenchman was in third gear and Jamison Gibson Park was quick but occasionally inaccurate. This was White’s weekend.

1. Andrew Porter (Ireland)

His switch from impact substitute on the tighthead to starter on the loose is a master stroke.

Related: Andrew Porter on switching sides

A potent technician in the tight who also happens to be a limpet over the tackle and more than a half tidy ball-carrier. He’s developing into one of the best looseheads in the world.

2. Ronan Kelleher (Ireland)

Another outstanding Irish front-row asset, especially in the loose where he has the sort of dynamic ball-carrying game we are more used to from New Zealand.

Looking at Ireland in the tight, there wasn’t much wrong with his bread-and-butter elements either.

3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)

He is fast becoming one of Ireland’s all-time great props. Unremitting in the scrum, yet the big man has a delicate pair of feet and an astonishing feel for the game, especially around the breakdown where he is so strong in both attack and defence.

4. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)

Such a natural rugby player that he is equally at ease in the second or back row.

His lineout work is superb, his carrying a constant threat, while he’s the fourth back-rower when it comes to the breakdown. He was too much for Wales.

5. Cameron Woki (France)

Another player who can slot anywhere between No 4 and No 8.

In an understated French performance against Italy, his brilliance in the lineout was central to their victory. His feet move so fast over the ground while he springs so athletically in the air. His handling and carrying is top class too.

2022 Six Nations Team of Round One

France lock Cameron Woki wins a lineout against Italy (AFP/Getty Images)

6. Jamie Ritchie (Scotland) 

Seen on crutches at the end of the England game, he must be a doubt for the rest of the tournament, which is a massive blow for man and team, given the combination of effort and excellence he brought to the breakdown battle in Edinburgh.

7. Josh van der Flier (Ireland)

The bloke in the back row who does all the dirty work. His tackle count against Wales was high.

For all the pre-match talk about the strength in depth in Welsh flankers, he made the contact zone his own.

8. Jack Conan (Ireland)

A different class rugby player to his brave predecessor, CJ Stander. He has a great feel for support lines, soft hands in the lineout and loose, yet a work-rate that was unstinting as Wales went perpetually backwards.

What do you think of Stuart Barnes’s 2022 Six Nations Team of Round One? Who would you pick? Email with your views.

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