Six Nations 2023 Team of the Tournament so far: best starting XV and subs after Round Three results

Rugby’s Greatest Championship has passed the halfway point and there has been plenty to digest from Ireland, France, Scotland, England, Italy and Wales so far.

We are now three rounds deep in the 2023 Six Nations Championship and what a tournament it has been so far with Ireland on course for a Grand Slam while France and Scotland are chasing them down for the title.

Elsewhere, England look to be finding their feet under Steve Borthwick and Italy are also making great strides but it has been a competition marred by off field issues as well as poor performances on the pitch for Wales. After the first three rounds we have pulled together what we believe is the best 22 man squad of the competition at this stage. Here is our pick for the Six Nations Team of the Tournament so far...

Front row: 1 - Schoeman (SCO), 2 - Owens (WAL), 3 - Belham (IRE)

Pierre Schoeman narrowly beats England’s Elis Genge to our number one jersey with the South African import having been amongst the Scots most impressive performers so far. The Edinburgh prop seems to be all over the pitch making carry after carry and picking up gains with his hulking frame. Meanwhile, Ireland’s Finlay Bealham has stepped up big time to try and fill the shoes of Tadhg Furlong at Tight Head for Ireland. The Aussie born Connacht star also has two try assists so far and has been a leading player in Ireland’s impressive pack.

Wales captain Ken Owens enters as his nation’s sole representative in our team, leading his country both on and off the field with dignity during a turbulent time. In a tournament where Scotland’s George Turner and France’s Julien Marchand have also impressed, the Scarlet earns his place for maintaining the level of consistency we have come to expect while other famous names from Wales’ golden generation have failed to do so.

Locks: 4 - Flament (FRA), 5 - Ruzza (ITY)

Second rowers in the modern game are often judged on two key contributions, successful tackles and line-out dominance. That made these two players easy choices for our starting XV with France’s Thibaud Flament leading the tournament in successful tackles with a whopping 58.

Italy’s Federico Ruzza has also won more lineouts than any other player with 22, that’s six more than second place Richie Gray of Scotland who is unlucky to miss out on the starting XV. This continental lock pairing brings a solid level of defense and set piece consistency to our team.

Back row: 6 - Negri (ITY), 7 - Van der Flier (IRE), 8 - Dorris (IRE)

There’s no unfamiliar names at flanker in our team with Italy’s Sebastian Negri and Ireland’s Josh van der Flier having almost 100 test caps between them. Negri is joint second for the most carries in the tournament so far and the Benetton star has earned a lot of praise for his workrate both on and off the ball. Meanwhile, the 2022 World Player of the Year would have the number seven jersey in any team under lock and key.

The star back row player of the tournament so far has been Ireland’s number eight, Calen Doris. The Leinster player only made his International debut in 2020 but in this year’s competition he has established himself as one of the first names on Andy Farrell’s team sheet. His stats show 41 carries, three turnovers and one try for the competition so far and he is currently competing with our half back choices for Player of the Tournament.

Half backs: 9 - Dupont (FRA), 10 - Russell (SCO)

What is there left to say about Antoine Dupont that hasn’t already been said? The France captain is quite simply magnifique. He is on track to go down as one of the greatest scrum halves in rugby union history and deservedly so, with few players in the current game coming close to matching his incredible consistency over the past few years. Dupont manages to not only be a leader but the biggest attacking threat in a French team loaded with just that as well as an incredible defender when called upon.

Dupont and Dorris will be in the conversation for Player of the Tournament in three weeks’ time but, for us, there’s only one man who has outshone them both so far and that’s Scotland’s mercurial stand-off. Finn Russell leads the tournament in try assists and, arguably more impressive, in carries with 45 - the next seven players below him are either forwards or full backs.

He also leads in offloads and ranks high for both meters and passes made. For us, Finn Russell has been the 2023 Six Nations Player of the Tournament so far and has been essential to everything good that Scotland have been doing this year all while being an absolute joy to watch.

Centres: 12 - Fickou (FRA) 13 - Jones (SCO)

Perhaps a slight cheat here picking a player at inside centre who has played the whole tournament at outside centre but Gaël Fickou has played at 12 plenty of times before so we’re happy to count it. That’s because the French centre has probably been one of if not the most consistent Six Nations player since his debut in the competition ten years ago. He won Player of the Match in their win over Scotland against fierce competition from both sides and is an integral part in both attack and defence.

He is joined by the player who would almost certainly have been named Player of the Match in that fixture had the result gone the other way, Scotland’s Huw Jones. The tournament’s leading try scorer was something of a surprise selection in the opening round when Gregor Townsend picked him ahead of the always reliable Chris Harris but the Glasgow man has been by far his nation’s (and the competitions) most potent attacking threat. Given space he has been near unstoppable but showed in Paris he is equally capable of punching through himself when needed and his return to the Scotland starting XV has given them some much needed quality in the finishing department.

Back three: 11 - Lowe (IRE), 14 - Malins (ENG), 15 - Ramos (FRA)

This was by far the most difficult area of the pitch to select. Ireland’s Hugo Keenan and Italy’s Ange Capuozzo are hard done by to miss out but France’s Thomas Ramos just edges ahead of them. After all, the perfect XV needs a world class kicker and the France full-back leads the competition on points with 45 - ten from crossing the try line and 35 from the boot.

The wings have been equally competitive and Duhan van Der Merwe was a hard player to leave out after his incredible showing against England but the South African import has not been quite as effective since. Ireland’s Mack Hansen and France’s Ethan Dumortier are also unlucky to miss out but we’ve gone with Ireland’s James Lowe and England’s Max Malins.

Lowe and Hansen both have two tries each so far but the former has also racked up two try assists as well as being second behind Keenan for meters made so far and has also chipped in with four turnovers, an incredible number for a winger which puts him joint top of the standings alongside Scotland skipper Jamie Ritchie.

Meanwhile, Malins has been one of the bright lights for England in Steve Borthwick’s early tenure and looks to have established himself as a starter having only made his debut and won 15 caps since 2020. His two tries have been impressive and have served to demonstrate his speed, strength, finishing and reading of the game.

Replacements: Genge (ENG), Marchand (FRA), Ferrari (ITY), R Gray (SCO), Ludlam (ENG), Varney (ITY), Keenan (ITY)

Each player on our bench was unlucky to miss out on the starting XV but would offer plenty as a replacement. Genge, Gray and Keenan were the three closest calls for a starting berth while the other players have all been amongst their respective countries best performers at the competition so far.