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20th Mar 2024

Bundee Aki was Ireland’s best Six Nations player, but two teammates pushed him close

Patrick McCarry

Bundee Aki

Looking back on the championship, the final tally shows a clear winner.

Bundee Aki is one of four players included on the 2024 shortlist for Six Nations Player of the Tournament. There were certainly a few Irish contenders, but Aki’s high performance levels see him a deserving nominee.

Andy Farrell’s side got their Six Nations defence off to a record-breaking start as they demolished France 38-17 in Marseille. Next up was an Italian side that let victory against England, in their opener, slip through their fingers. Ireland scored six tries and kept the visitors scoreless. Wales put up a stiffer fight but were defeated 31-7 at Aviva Stadium. There was the last-gasp defeat to England before Ireland closed out their title defence by besting Scotland.

Bundee Aki and Joe McCarthy score 8.5 out of 10 in that win over France. Tadhg Beirne, Hugo Keenan, James Lowe, Jamison Gibson-Park and Caelan Doris all scored 8s. In the 36-0 win over Italy, Lowe top-scored with 9, with Keenan, Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan and Stuart McCloskey all getting 8s. Against Wales, Aki and Andrew Porter topped out with 8.5 each.

In their latest outing, losing 23-22 to England, Bundee Aki and James Lowe scored 8s, with Beirne and Josh van der Flier getting 7.5s. In the win over France, Gibson-Park was the stand-out performer, with Porter, Sheehan and Doris all scoring highly, too.

Now that the 2024 Six Nations championship is in the history books, we tallied up the player ratings from all five Test outings. When you look at the championship, as a whole, there is a clear winner, and two other lads that were on top, top form.

BUNDEE AKI – Average rating: 8.1

Bundee Aki

The Connacht centre played four games and sat out the emphatic win over Italy. His two best outings were in the win over France and the home stroll against Wales. Along with Gael Fickou (France) and Huw Jones (Scotland), Bundee Aki is the most consistent and impactful centre in this championship over the past three years.


The Leinster winger has primarily been on Ireland duty for most of this season, barring two Champions Cup outings. There had been concerns that he may have been rusty, heading into the championship, but he dispelled that notion against France. His best game of the tournament was against Wales. Even though England opted to counter-attack off his kicking, at Twickenham, he came up with two big tries.


One of eight Ireland players to start all five championship games. Bounced back from being the target of Wayne Barnes’ whistle during the World Cup quarter final. The Irish scrum had the edge in four games and Porter was a big factor in that. Was very, very good in the win over Wales. Fittingly crashed over for the try that ultimately won the championship for Ireland, against the Scots.


Hugo Keenan
Jamison Gibson-Park shakes hands with President of Ireland Michael D Higgins. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile)


Hugo Keenan (7.66 average rating) was top-class in the opening two games until injuries knocked him out of the Wales and Scotland game. Four players, Jamison Gibson-Park, Tadhg Beirne, Caelan Doris and five-try man Dan Sheehan, all finished with average ratings of 7.6, showing the consistent impacts they had across games. Stuart McCloskey only had two appearances but acquitted himself well in both and finished at 7.5.


Josh van der Flier ended up at 7.2 after not dipping below the 7 mark, throughout the championship. Joe McCarthy, who was man of the match in his first Six Nations start, was just behind. Calvin Nash was steady as a rock, finishing with exactly 7/10 as that is what he got in each of his ratings (he did not register a rating after an early injury against England). Ciáran Frawley was a 7, as was Craig Casey, who only featured once. Tadhg Furlong was a shade under 7, on average, with his best outing against Wales. Robbie Henshaw ended on 6.8, after a string of 7s and 6/10 in that defeat to England. Jack Crowley averaged 6.6 from his five starts.


Ryan Baird, James Ryan, Rónan Kelleher, Finlay Bealham and Jack Conan all averaged 6.5 after their mainly supporting roles. Of all the regular starters, Peter O’Mahony averaged the lowest (6.25), saving his best for Wales and Scotland. Other back-ups that scored slightly lower were Conor Murray, Oli Jager, Tom O’Toole and Cian Healy, although many had limited minutes to have true impacts on games. Among the lowest scoring returns were Garry Ringrose and Jordan Larmour (5.5), with Jeremy Loughman and Harry Byrne (5s) just below.

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