ESPN Fantasy Rugby — Team of the 2017 Six Nations

Rugby


England may have won the Six Nations with a round to spare last year but that didn’t mean they dominated proceedings when it came to fantasy points for 2017.

Aside from Italy who failed to register a win in last year’s competition, all the other five nations had at least two players in ESPN’s Fantasy Rugby team of the year.

Outside of the two French players, 10 of last year’s best fantasy players went on to feature for the British & Irish Lions on their tour of New Zealand.

Below is a breakdown of those who brought home the bacon in 2017.

OUTSIDE BACKS

Leigh Halfpenny (Wales) – 49 points

If you ever wanted to put your house on someone to kick a penalty, you’d probably want Halfpenny to be the one taking the shot at goal. The Welsh fullback slotted 16 penalties and seven conversions in last year’s Six Nations and while he didn’t score a try all tournament he assisted two. He scored the most fantasy points of any outside back in 2017 but if you didn’t have him as your designated kicker he would’ve been quite the disappointment.

Stuart Hogg (Scotland) – 47 points

The Scotland fullback was on another level in 2017 and was rewarded with a second straight Six Nations player of the championship crown. Always a first choice selection for his country, Hogg consistently performed throughout the tournament with three tries, three assists and three games where he ran more than 50 metres with ball in hand. He was also named man of the match against Ireland which saw him bring in 47 fantasy points from five matches.

Liam Williams (Wales) – 34 points

A constant threat in attack, Liam Williams starred for Wales last year in an otherwise unconvincing Six Nations campaign for Warren Gatland’s side. The Saracens outside back scored three tries in the tournament while he ran more than 50 metres in four of the five games he played. Williams never missed a minute of Wales’ 2017 Six Nations campaign and is sure to feature heavily again in 2018.

CENTRES

Jonathan Joseph (England) – 32 points

For those who can’t remember much of last year’s Six Nations — or for those Scotland fans who would much rather forget this particular day — Joseph had a storming game against England’s northern neighbours that helped him skyrocket into the fantasy team of the year. Joseph scored three tries in a man-of-the-match performance that saw him eclipse Scotland’s Huw Jones for the second spot in our midfield.

Owen Farrell (England) – 47 points

Another goal-kicking ace, Farrell was unflappable from the tee in last year’s Six Nations, but it was his all-round game that saw him selected in 70 percent of all fantasy sides. The England playmaker kicked 13 penalties and 12 conversions through five games, while he assisted two tries and made 10 tackles against Ireland [that would earn his fantasy managers two points this time around]. It’s also very rare that Farrell misses any action — he played every minute for England in their Six Nations triumph.

FLY-HALF

Finn Russell (Scotland) – 47 points

The fly-half position was hotly contested with four of the six countries’ goal kicker — excluding Owen Farrell and Leigh Halfpenny — wearing the No. 10 jersey. Finn Russell edged France’s Camille Lopez by one fantasy point last year, more due to his production not just from the tee but around the park. On two occasions Russell was named man of the match for controlling the game brilliantly, and linking well with the dangerous Hogg.

SCRUM-HALF

Conor Murray (Ireland) – 25 points

Considered by some to be the best scrum-half in the game, Murray was one of Ireland’s best players last year — particularly in the big games. Despite only playing in four of Ireland’s five matches in 2017, Murray made his mark when he was on the field with a try, two assists and one man of the match award to finish with 25 fantasy points.

FRONT ROW

Dan Cole (England) – 19 points

It is so rare for a prop to score a try, that it was enough to get Dan Cole into the 2017 ESPN Fantasy team of the year. Cole, who is usually one of the first names on the teamsheet for England under Eddie Jones, managed a try against Italy and started all five games to tick over 19 fantasy points across the tournament.

Rabah Slimani (France) – 17 points

The French front rower started last year’s fantasy game with a bang, coming off the bench to score a try against England and register nine points in round one. Another game off the bench against Scotland was followed by three straight starts which kept the points ticking as he finished the tournament with 17 points — the second most of any front-row forward.

Gordon Reid (Scotland) – 17 points

A real surprise inclusion in last year’s team of the year was now-London Irish prop Reid. In a game most will remember for Jonathan Joseph’s hat trick and England piling on 60 points at Twickenham, Reid managed to score a consolation try to pick up 10 fantasy points. Reid started three of Scotland’s five games, and came off the bench for the other two.

SECOND ROW

Iain Henderson (Ireland) – 25 points

Henderson was a mixed bag from a fantasy perspective in 2017 but two big performances were enough for him to make our team of the year. The Ulster lock picked up a try in a losing effort against Scotland before a huge game that featured a try, 12 tackles and a lineout steal and helped Ireland beat England to end the tournament on a high in Dublin.

Joe Launchbury (England) – 30 points

The England second row was arguably the best forward in the Six Nations last year as the Wasps captain filled the absence of George Kruis with five standout performances. Launchbury was awarded man of the match in consecutive games against Wales and Italy mainly due to his standout defensive display and work rate. In all five games he made 10 or more tackles while he also ran more than 50 metres with ball in hand on one occasion.

BACK ROW

Kevin Gourdon (France) – 33 points

A consistent performer who flew under the radar in 2017 was Gourdon. The La Rochelle back row was one of Les Bleus’ best despite being selected in just nine percent of our fantasy teams. Gourdon picked up a man-of-the-match award in a win against Scotland, while he finished every game with at least 10 tackles made.

Louis Picamoles (France) – 34 points

It was a delight to watch Picamoles in full flight last year and France will be hoping they can get the best out of him again in 2018. The skilful former Northampton Saints No. 8 was so good against England he was awarded man of the match in a losing cause. Picamoles started all five games and accumulated points regularly, making at least 10 tackles a game and running 50 metres with ball in hand — quite impressive for a forward.

CJ Stander (Ireland) – 50 points

Stander has all the attributes to be a fantasy manager’s dream and boy did he deliver in 2017. The big ball-running back row picked up an incredible 37 points in one game last year after scoring three tries, providing an assist, making 11 tackles and running 73 metres run in a man-of-the-match display against struggling Italy. Stander picked up a few points in his four other starts, which combined with his mammoth haul in Rome were enough to see him end the tournament with 50 fantasy points — the most of any player in the competition.



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