Scrumqueens.com, the world’s leading Women’s rugby website, has announced its Team of the 2015 Women’s RBS 6 Nations and champions Ireland have six played selected – captain Niamh Briggs, Jenny Murphy, Alison Miller, Ailis Egan, Sophie Spence and Claire Molloy.
SCRUMQUEENS.COM TEAM OF THE 2015 WOMEN’S RBS 6 NATIONS:
15. NIAMH BRIGGS (IRELAND)
Manuela Furlan (Italy) and Jessy Tremouliere (Fance) both had very good Six Nations but Briggs, captaining Ireland, is the clear winner here. Solid kicking combined with her threat in attack and strong defence makes her an all round full-back and her leadership and never-say-die attitude took Ireland a long way.
14. Julie Billes (France)
The tournament’s top try scorer was excellent out wide for the French. Explosive speed, remarkable acceleration and great hands, she always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Her finishing was exemplary as demonstrated both with her hat-trick against Scotland and her completion of a wonderful back-line move against Wales. England’s Ruth Laybourne was another winger of note this year – always dangerous given any space.
13. JENNY MURPHY (IRELAND)
Ireland’s powerhouse centre does not have the same subtlety of the player she replaced in the number 13 shirt – Lynne Cantwell – but her strength on the ball more than makes up for it. A fearsome tackler and a deadly runner, has become a standout player despite her relative inexperience. Shannon Izar was another top outside centre this year.
12. Elodie Poublan (France)
With Marjorie Mayans away with the Sevens team, Poublan at last had a chance to make the position her own. She was everywhere, setting an example to the youthful and inexperienced French back-line. A wonderful step, she was often the catalyst that set up opportunities for the rest of the team.
11. ALISON MILLER (IRELAND)
Ireland’s pacey winger reminded everyone of her power with a fine solo try against Scotland, sandwiched between others, and she has developed superbly in recent years to become a truly deadly finisher and key cog in the Irish wheel. Italy’s Maria Magatti also had a great tournament.
10. Katy Mclean (England)
England’s best player, you wonder if their campaign might have been different if she was involved against Wales? Excellent against France in the final round again and handed the captaincy once she was pulled from the Sevens squad, there was not much more she could have done to help her country this year.
9. Sara Barattin (Italy)
By far the most experienced scrum half in the tournament. Has been outstanding for some years, and her performances this year were an object lesson for the other number nines on the scene at the moment. Ireland’s Larissa Muldoon is also developing very well.
1. Rochelle Clark (England)
Reaching her 100th cap was certainly a highlight for Clark, whose tenacity was a key feature once again for the entire tournament. Few props epitomise the work-rate needed to last as long as she has in international front row rugby and her tackling, carrying and set piece work show no signs of abating. She scored her 21st try during the tournament – an astonishing statistic in itself. Other notable loosehead performances this year include Catrin Edwards (Wales) and Lisa Robertson (Scotland), who had a standout performance against England.
2. Gaelle Mignot (France)
The French captain was at the heart once more of a very strong French forward effort this season. From organising the unstoppable French driving maul to geeing up her team-mates in the dark against Ireland after a break in play – Mignot is the heartbeat of this very good French side. Gillian Bourke (Ireland) and Victoria Fleetwood (England) also came into the reckoning for this, with Fleetwood’s superb running and Bourke’s excellent technical ability standing out.
3. AILIS EGAN (IRELAND)
Out on her own as the leading tighthead in the game at the moment, Egan was outstanding as the cornerstone of a strong Irish scrum all tournament and her ball-carrying ability is also a real feature of the Irish pack effort. Other notables in the number three shirt include Tracy Balmer, the Scotland captain who never gives up.
4. SOPHIE SPENCE (IRELAND)
A quite brilliant athletic lock, if there was an official overall player of the tournament, Spence would surely be a favourite to win it. A menace with ball in hand, her chop tackling ability has also been important for Ireland and she is also a key part of the Irish set piece, which rolled pretty well all tournament. Team-mate Marie Louise Reilly plus England’s Tamara Taylor also had strong shouts.
5. Flavia Severin (Italy)
A key part of the only opposition pack that trully neutralised the French threat, but was also at the heart of an impressive Italian defence that got better and better as the tournament went on. Player of the match against France, she also demonstrated her ball-carrying ability with the opening try against Wales.
6. Rachel Taylor (Wales)
The Wales captain started her Championship superbly, leading her team to a win over England and contributing with a flying tally of tackles, carries and set piece work for her side. Part of a very dangerous Welsh back row, she beats off excellent competition for this shirt, including Ireland’s Paula Fitzpatrick.
7. CLAIRE MOLLOY (IRELAND)
Ireland’s openside gets better and better and there is no one better in the game at the subtle number 7 skills she displays over the ball time and time again. A dangerous attacker and runner, her best work is down at the breakdown and despite good tournaments at flank from players like England’s Hannah Gallagher, she owns this shirt.
8. Safi N’Diaye (France)
There are more subtle number 8s in the game but probably none as powerful and threatening with ball in hand. N’Diaye is the key go-to player in the French pack and the French management may rue not starting her in the loss to Italy. Heather O’Brien (Ireland) and Sioned Harries (Wales) were also superb this season.