RUCK’s team of the week: Ben & Tom Youngs, Itoje, Wyn Jones
Saracens, Racing Metro and Leicester qualified for the knockout rounds; Ospreys recorded a crucial home win against Clermont while there were also wins for Bordeaux, Munster, Northampton and Oyonnax in an exciting weekend of European Champions Cup rugby action.
But who were your stand-out performers? After much debate here is our final selection – do you agree? Comment below.
Fullback: SIMON ZEBO (Munster)
The fullback scored the third try of the match as Munster found another gear and put in the type of performance that had the crowd in attendance remembering the days of old, beating Stade Français 26-13. Zebo’s all-around performance and display probably make him a certainty for Joe Schmidt’s Ireland Six Nations squad.
Wing: MARLAND YARDE (Harlequins)
arland Yarde is in a good place at the moment, and rightly so. The Harlequins wing has helped his club return to the upper reaches of the Aviva Premiership, and continued to impress with a try in Quins dismantling of Cardiff Blues this weekend in the Challenge Cup.
Centre: GARRY RINGROSE (Leinster)
Incisive running from Ringrose kept the hosts humming along as they recorded an encouraging 14-point victory at the RDS against Bath. The 20-year-old centre is a star in the making and could be in line to make his Ireland debut during the Six Nations.
Centre: CASEY LAULALA (Racing Metro)
Laulala scored a well-deserved hat-trick as the French league leaders ran in nine tries at Stade Yves-du-Manoir. Racing racked up their biggest win in the tournament while also inflicting Scarlets’ heaviest defeat in Europe and the centre played an enormous part in that.
Wing: BLAIR O’CONNOR (Bordeaux-Begles)
The Australian was a joy to watch on Saturday as he cut through Exeter’s defence at will in an entertaining victory. Regularly a willing option in midfield, he beat seven defenders and deserved his try in another solid showing.
Fly-half: SAM DAVIES (Ospreys)
Ospreys outside half Sam Davies is starting to carve out a niche for himself in rugby after his match-winning contribution in the European Champions Cup 21-13 win over Clermont on Friday night at the Liberty Stadium.
Davies came on for the injured Dan Biggar after 48 minutes and helped change the tempo and course of the game with a flawless 15-point kicking display, including four penalties and a drop-goal.
Scrum-half: BEN YOUNGS (Leicester Tigers)
Youngs has maintained the same sort of form that saw him own the No.9 shirt for club and country through much of last season. His performance in Leicester’s dismantling of Treviso was one of the highest quality with his distribution and tempo near-perfect before he ran in a spectacular solo try.
I wouldn’t like to be the man who picks between him and Danny Care for the England starting spot during the Six Nations.
Prop: JEFFERSON POIROT (Bordeaux-Begles)
Hooker: TOM YOUNGS ( Leicester Tigers)
Prop: PAUL HILL (Northampton Saints)
Following his surprise selection in Englands Six Nations squad, Hill put in a solid scrummaging performance as well as getting over the gain line regularly for Saints as they edged past Glasgow on Sunday. It wasn’t his best performance of the season but the win was the icing on the cake of what has been a fantastic week for the prop.
Lock: MARO ITOJE (Saracens)
Super Maro Itoje put the spring back into Sarries’ step as the Premiership league leaders romped to a convincing win against Irish province Ulster. The 21-year-olds physical attributes were epitomised in the way he bounced to his feet to finish Saracens’ third try on 58 minutes after making an initial surge. He is surely going to be a star at both club and international level.
Lock: ALUN WYN JONES (Ospreys)
Jones was named the man of the match after an inspirational display that saw the Ospreys take an enormous step towards the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup. The brave and skilled second row is our pick to captain the British and Irish and Lions in 2017.
Flanker: MIKE FITZGERALD (Leicester Tigers)
Back-rower Fitzgerald scored after 117 seconds against Treviso – the exact time it took Matt Smith to open the scoring against Northampton the previous week. The 6ft 5in giant, who is usually a lock, looked more than comfortable in the back-row and was the Tigers man of the match for his constant threat and precise passing.
Flanker: JUSTIN TIPURIC (Ospreys)
Warren Gatland might be ready to pick his tried and trusted back-row trio of Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton and Taulupe Faletau, but he must once again give Tipuric serious consideration after yet another fantastic display for the Ospreys against Clermont.
The Wales head coach must consider picking both Tipuric AND Warburton.
Number 8: BILLY VUNIPOLA (Saracens)
The back-rowers crucial try before the break edged Sarries in front heading into half-time. Vunipola is one player who has gone from strength-to-strength since the Rugby World Cup and could definitely perform an essential role for Eddie Jones men during the upcoming Six Nations.