The 2023 Guinness Six Nations has surpassed the half-way mark, with Round three wrapped up this weekend. After days of strike speculation, the Wales vs England match went ahead, with England grinding out a 10-20 away victory.
A returning Paolo Garbisi inspired a resounding performance from Italy, who took the fight to Ireland for the first hour, yet faltered for an eventual Irish win. Italy looked more like the resilient underdogs who took on France, yet Andy Farrell’s men once again proved their class as the ‘World Rugby’s Number One’ ranked side.
Scotland travelled to Paris, and presented us with the craziest first half of rugby seen in recent history. Two red cards and three French tries established a 19-0 deficit after 20 minutes, yet Scotland fought back to keep the match competitive. An eventual 32-21 score-line favoured France, but plaudits must go to Scotland’s resiliency, who looked like favourites to win at times.
RUCK has selected our Team of the Week for Round 3. Do you agree, or has someone missed the cut this time around?
2023 Six Nations Team of the Week: Round 3
15. Freddie Steward
England’s Man of the Match in Cardiff, Freddie Steward was admired for his defensive work as much as he was in attack. The highlight of his game was the all-important try saving tackle on Louis Rees-Zammit, as the tricky Welsh winger made a narrow breakaway. Providing the assist for Ollie Lawrence’s match-sealing try, presented Stewards’ skillset as an all-rounder.
Once again excellent in the air, in a match that received critical reviews for ‘over-kicking’. Steward has perfected the full-back fundamentals, and is providing the goods week after week, as Elliot Daley remaining on the injury list. The Leicester Tigers man had the club history for a potential ‘Borthwick-bias’, but has since proven any doubters wrong, with confident Six Nations performances.
14. Mack Hansen
The Man of the Match against Italy, Mack Hansen’s performance will be best remembered for dropping the ‘F-bomb’ in his post match interview. However, the winger had a starring role against a determined Italy side, providing exquisite pieces of skill throughout the match. Hansen impressed throughout in attack, involved in Ireland’s second try, and scored the fourth to secure the bonus point and keep his country on track for the Six Nations title.
After Ireland pinned the Azzurri back on their try line, they failed to make the final few yards with short picks and drives. Craig Casey changed up the tactic, and flung a wide pass to Stuart McCloskey, who shipped the ball to Hansen on the wing to score.
11. Louis Rees-Zammit
Returning from injury absence just the weekend prior, Louis Rees-Zammit has not lost a step. Making his comeback in Gloucester’s cherry and white, the winger etched his name on the score-sheet against Harlequins, and built momentum for the clash against England.
Rees-Zammit was Wales’ best option in attack, continuously being the difference in adding a spark to a stalemate. Skipping passed defenders, and scoring a try just 44 seconds after half time, the 22-year-old looked as fiery as ever for Wales. Intercepting Max Malins’ loose pass, Rees-Zammit exploded away from the defence, and cruised in to take Wales into the lead.
Honourable mention to Anthony Watson, who performed excellently on his first start for England since his return from injury, yet his Welsh counterpart brough the added fire to make it into RUCK’s Team of the Week.
13. Huw Jones
Huw Jones was the engine of the Scottish midfield, and partnered up excellently with Finn Russell against France. The centre was impressive with powerful carries, keeping ‘Les Bleus’ on notice. Jones instilled the fight into his Scotland teammates, who at one stage looked down at out, with 14 men and chasing a 19-0 deficit.
Jones grabbed two tries, contributing an essential brace to Scotland’s fight back efforts. His first came just six minutes after France had scored their third unanswered try. The centre ran onto the slip line of Russell, and through a gap in the French defence for his first try after 26 minutes. His second score saw him brush aside the tackle attempt of Antoine Dupont, after running onto Tuipulotu’s well timed pass.
12. Ollie Lawrence
Continuing to prove himself with stand-out performances at centre, Ollie Lawrence once again had England fans singing his praises. After Manu Tuilagi’s red card extended his leave from the England side, Lawrence has had the perfect opportunity to stake his name for the 12 jersey, come the Rugby World Cup.
It would be difficult for Borthwick to overlook the Bath man, as he continues to perform for his country. His defensive aggression is unmatched in an England shirt, and his try proved his versatility in the midfield. After Henry Slade was halted just short of the line, the ball moved left to Freddie Steward, who popped it away to Lawrence, for a one-handed diving finish. Honourable mention goes to Gael Fickou, who’s last minute try sealed the win for France over Scotland.