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19th Mar 2024

Just four Ireland stars make the cut in Sam Warburton’s Six Nations ‘Best XV’

Patrick McCarry

Sam Warburton

“An absolutely brilliant team, and a joy to watch”

Sam Warburton believes Ireland are good enough to do what no side has ever managed in the history of the ‘Home’ Nations, Five Nations or Six Nations – win three outright titles in a row.

Ireland clinched back-to-back Six Nations titles, on Saturday, after defeating Scotland 17-13 at Aviva Stadium. Warburton had stated, earlier in the championship, that Ireland were the best team in world rugby right now, despite South Africa being world champions.

After Ugo Monye declared Ireland a ‘joy to watch’, on the BBC, Warburton saids, “The challenge for them now is, no-one has ever done three-in-a-row. They’ve got to go for that now… we did pick over some negatives (during the championship) but, overall, you look at the statistics from Ireland and they are still a phenomenal side.”

When it came to selecting his Best XV of the 2024 Six Nations, though, the former Wales and Lions captain only selected four Ireland players in his team.

Sam Warburton only picks four Ireland stars in Best XV

When it came to selecting a Team of the Tournament, for the Six Nations, Sam Warburton and former Scotland star John Barclay both offered up their selections on the BBC.

Barclay had four Ireland players in his side – Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne and Josh van der Flier, and Bundee Aki as the sole backline inclusion, along with three Italians, two French stars, and Scotland’s Duhan van der Merwe.

Warburton had none of the Irish players that Barclay selected, showing the subjectivity of these selections and how many live candidates there were for certain positions. Jack Crowley, for instance, missed out to England outhalf George Ford. “England’s attack as a team has started to click and the last two rounds [against Ireland and France] have really elevated George Ford,” he said. “I think Ford is a great game manager.”

And he could not leave out 22-year-old England lock, George Martin. “I know he’s only started two games but he is a serious player with his ferocity and physicality,” said Warburton as he paired Martin with Ireland’s Joe McCarthy.


15. Monty Ioane (Italy)

14. Damian Penaud (France)

13. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)

12. Tommaso Menoncello (Italy)

11. James Lowe (Ireland)

10. George Ford (England)

9. Nolann Le Garrec (France)

1. Cyril Baille (France)

2. Dan Sheehan (Ireland)

3. Uini Atonio (France)

4. Joe McCarthy (Ireland)

5. George Martin (England)

6. Ollie Chessum (England)

7. Tommy Reffell (Wales)

8. Ben Earl. (England)

In our RugbyJOE ‘Best XV’, the breakdown was this: Ireland (7), France (3), Italy (3), England (2):

Sam Warburton
Joe McCarthy is included in the Best XV of Sam Warburton. (Credit: Sportsfile)

When it comes to Player of the Tournament, a four-man shortlist has been announced and public voting has begun.

Bundee Aki, Ben Earl, Tommaso Mennoncello and Duhan van der Merwe, who scored five tries in the tournament, are all up for the main prize.


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