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Welsh rugby legends dominate the ‘Greatest Six Nations XV’ according to fans

15 Mar 2024 6 minute read
Wales National Team

Rich Hart

A rugby news site has polled its international audience to put together the ‘Greatest Six Nations XV’ and Wales has had a very strong showing – with five legends making the cut.

Wales’ Six Nations campaign has largely been a forgettable one, with Warren Gatland’s side enduring a torrid tournament. Currently, the multiple tournament wins, Grand Slams and the glory days seem a distant memory.

However, there is something to shout about for Welsh fans, as during this year’s Championship, rugby news site, RugbyPass, asked its 80,000-strong global fanbase to decide which players would make it into the greatest-ever Six Nations XV – and the result has been a particularly Welsh-heavy side.

Domination

Wales has dominated the picks to say the least, with a notable five rugby stars selected –  more than any other nation. Ireland follows with four players, and England is next best with three. France sees two stars represented while Italy gets a sole pick.

The five have been at the heart of Wales’ Six Nations successes. The tiny but mighty rugby nation has won the tournament six times, including four Grand Slams. Welsh sides throughout tournaments gone-by have also been renowned for their flair, physicality and never-say-die attitude which has made them formidable opponents.

In the forward pack, Alun Wyn Jones, Wales’ most-capped player with 158 appearances, takes his place in the second row. The former captain was of course a pivotal part of Wales’ Six Nations success, skippering the side to the 2019 Grand Slam and 2021 Championship. He gets 52% of the fan vote. Alongside Wyn Jones in the second row is former Irish captain, Paul O’Connell (68%).

Jamie Roberts, who also played alongside Wyn Jones, has previously said this of his former skipper: “You have to appreciate the heights he hit in the Six Nations. Whether it’s how he led the Wales side to Grand Slams, his longevity or how he set a standard in rugby; it speaks for itself. He’s a special and iconic Welsh player.”

In the back row is another former Wales captain, Sam Warburton, selected at openside flanker with 48% of fans picking the man who skippered the side to the Grand Slam in 2012 and tournament win in 2013. He is joined in the back row by French legend and former captain, Thierry Dusautoir and Italy’s Sergio Parrise, the tournament’s all-time appearance maker at number eight.

Front row

No Welsh players feature in the front row, Gethin Jenkins (21%) narrowly misses out to Englishman, Jason Leonard (22%), at loosehead. While Irish duo, Keith Wood (44%) and Tadhg Furlong (48%), slot in at hooker and tighthead, respectively. Present-day star and arguably France’s talisman, Antoine Dupont, is at scrum half with 75% of the vote share. He is partnered in the halves with English legend and 2003 Rugby World Cup winner, Jonny Wilkinson.

Moving into the backline, Welsh legends dominate in the three-quarters. Wales’ all-time leading try scorer, Shane Williams, is at left wing with 42% of the fans’ picks.

Jamie Roberts in action during the RBS 6 Nations match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on March 12 2016 in London (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Williams also received high praise from former teammate and backline partner, Jamie Roberts: “I get asked who the best player I’ve ever played with was, and it’s Shane Williams, every time.

“Just his ability to win a rugby match on his own and the ability to influence a game so much by doing something special; I don’t think many players can do that, certainly not in the Six Nations. There was an unspoken rule when he played for Wales of ‘get the ball to Shane.”

Roberts – who had an illustrious career for Wales with 94 caps, three tournament wins, including the 2012 Grand Slam and who played in an impressive 45 consecutive Six Nations matches over nine seasons – gets the fans’ pick as the tournament’s greatest-ever inside centre with 34%. He is partnered here with Irish legend, Brian O’Driscoll, who had the highest vote share of all players picked in the side with 80%.

“Privilege”

Speaking on his own selection, Jamie Roberts, said: “It’s a privilege to be selected by the fans alongside some of the tournament’s greatest ever players. If only we could have put that team together on the park at some point! The Six Nations continues to excite supporters worldwide with this year’s incredible championship proving no different.”

On the other wing is Wales’ leading try scorer in the Six Nations, who only recently announced his retirement from the international game, George North, who gets the fan vote to take his place on the right flank (43%). While Englishman, Jason Robinson is at full-back (52%).

When asked by RugbyPass about Wales’ dominance of the lineup, Welsh rugby journalist, Owain Jones, said: “Wales, despite being a small nation of three million, with a modest player base, has punched way above its weight, with four Grand Slams and six Six Nations Championships. It has consistently shown how much of a force it is in the esteemed tournament.”

Coaching the team, fans have selected incumbent Wales coach, Warren Gatland. New Zealander, Gatland is currently in his second spell as coach of the national side. However, it’s his first stint where he cemented his legacy, coaching Wales to four tournament titles, including three Grand Slams. He is chosen by 40% of the fans, beating current Ireland coach Andy Farrell who gets 30% of the popular vote.

Finally, Welshman Nigel Owens, renowned for his quick wit and incredible ability to control games, is the fans’ pick for the greatest-ever Six Nations referee. Owens’ immense popularity with fans and players alike is reflected with his 75% share of the vote – Englishman, Wayne Barnes the next best with 12%. 

Fans’ lineup:

1 Jason Leonard (ENG)

2 Keith Wood (IRE)

3 Tadhg Furlong (IRE)

4 Alun Wyn Jones (WAL)

5 Paul O’Connell (IRE)

6 Sam Warbuton (WAL)

7 Thierry Dusautoir (FRA)

8 Sergio Parisse (ITA)

9 Antoine Dupont (FRA)

10 Jonny Wilkinson (ENG)

11 Shane Williams (WAL)

12 Jamie Roberts (WAL)

13 Brian O’Driscoll (IRE)

14 George North (WAL)

15 Jason Robinson (ENG)

Coach: Warren Gatland (NZ)

Ref: Nigel Owens (WAL)


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Riki
Riki
26 days ago

Terrible team, How does Parisse get picked? He did nothing for Italy, he won like 2 games as captain in over a decade. Also, DuPont pick is ridiculous as he has only just arrived on the scene. The French and sole Italy are sympathy picks.

Last edited 26 days ago by Riki

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