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THE MOST PHYSICAL AND ATHLETIC PLAYERS IN THE 2015 RBS 6 NATIONS

Updated on March 4, 2015
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The RBS 6 Nations tournament is upon us again. The mighty and the brave from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy will come together over 5 gruelling weekends to decide who are the best rugby team in the Northern Hemisphere, ahead of the World Cup 2015, in England.

Here is a brief overview of the teams (In order of last years’ final table), and a run-down of the most athletic, powerful and physical players you can expect to see vying for the trophy.

IRELAND

Ireland are back! They may not have BoD now, but they have strength and class through and through. Jonathan Sexton has to be the best fly-half this side of the equator, his imagination and flare, matched by the accuracy from his boot. Rob Kearney is the worlds’ best full-back on his day. I certainly wouldn’t bet against him under a Garryowen. But, apart from flair, the boys in green have some seriously tough characters in their ranks.

Cian Healy

Position- Prop

Age- 27

Height- 1.85m (6ft 1)

Weight- 112kgs (17st 9)

Cian Healy is an absolute monster of a man. In the scrum he is devastating. He is fast and aggressive into the breakdown. Possessing incredible power, aggression and strength, Healy is an absolute bone cruncher on the rugby pitch. His work and speed in the loose is unmatched by any prop in the tournament.

Sean O’Brien

Position- Flanker/8

Age- 27

Height- 1.88m (6ft 2)

Weight- 108kgs (17st)

Sean O’Brien is an absolute workhorse. He will take continuous punishment, put his head on the block and still make tackle after tackle all game. Dependable, intelligent and strong, O’Brien is one to look out for.

Paul O’Connell

Position- Lock

Age- 35

Height- 1.98m (6ft 6)

Weight- 112kgs (17st 9)

It seems like Paul O’Connell has been around forever, and he never tires, he just gets better and better. Now in his 14th season with Munster, O’Connell has not only led his country many times, he has been on three Lions tours, captaining them on occasion also. Currently on 96 caps, O’Connell will hopefully see his century at some point during this tournament. Watch out for Paul O’Connell, in dominating line-outs, clearing out with vicious accuracy, as well as just providing all round, team-leading, inspiringly powerful rugby.

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ENGLAND

England look strong, but maybe lack consistency in key positions. The Fly-Half debate goes on, with four contenders and George Ford looking the likely number one choice right now. If Mike Brown is on form the team are boosted in both attack and defence. Danny Cares’ intelligent distribution and imagination can really set England alight. It just depends what mindset and team sheet turns up on the day.

Courtney Lawes

Position- Lock

Age- 25

Height- 2.01m (6ft 7)

Weight- 115kgs (18st 2)

Courtney Lawes is a massive presence and a huge tackler. He likes to let his opposition know he’s there, right from the start, with a series of crushing blows. Courtney is a lynchpin in the England pack, and f he can keep himself on the right side of the referee, can be a game changer. His energy and dedication are superb.

Manusamoa Tuilagi

Position- Centre

Age- 23

Height- 1.85m (6ft 1)

Weight- 112kgs (17st 9)

Manu is one of six rugby playing Tuilagi brothers. Of Samoan descent, Manu is the only one not to opt to play for his country of birth. The sheer size and athleticism of the man, makes him virtually impossible to stop when he gets into his stride. Expect to see Manu gaining yards and scoring devastating tries, as well as putting in near-lethal try saving tackles.

James Haskell

Position- Flanker/8

Age- 29

Height- 1.94m (6ft 5)

Weight- 114kgs (17st 13)

James Haskell is back from his slump and is in fine form. A powerhouse of a man, expect to see him everywhere he is needed, putting in 100%. Haskell is dedicated to his training, and the sheer size and physicality of the man is enough to make most opposition think twice.

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WALES

Wales have got strength all over the park. It was a disappointing tournament for them last year, following the previous years’ crushing victory over England that gave them the trophy on home turf, at the mighty Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Under the guidance of Warren Gatland, both Wales and the Welsh dominant Lions have seen success galore. After narrowly losing out on a place in the World Cup final last time around, the Welsh will be eager to retake the 6 Nations crown in the build up to this Summers’ tournament.

Alun Wyn-Jones

Position- Lock

Age- 29

Height- 1.96m (6ft 6)

Weight- 118kgs (18st 6)

Alun Wyn-Jones is the hardest working player in Northern hemisphere rugby. Feared by all, even his own team-mates, Alun is known for his test level ferocity in training. Levelheaded, fearless and utterly dedicated, expect more game changing play from the big Swansea man. While Warburton wears the armband, Alun Wyn leads the pack, with his roars being heard in the stands.

Sam Warburton

Position- Flanker

Age- 26

Height- 1.88m (6ft 2)

Weight- 106kgs (16st 10)

Sam Warburton has lacked game-play once again due to fragile, recurring injuries. However, the mighty Cardiffian is always saved and brought out for the big games, where you can expect him to wear the captains’ armband. Cool headed and respected throughout the world, expect Sam to be on top form. The work he does is not always obvious to the untrained eye, but his presence at the breakdown is immense. Known as the ‘Jackal King’, Sam is virtually immovable when he gets his head over a ruck. Expect Warburton to win turnovers galore and make plenty of try saving tackles with textbook form.

Liam Williams

Position- Full-back/Wing

Age- 23

Height- 1.88m (6ft 2)

Weight- 87kgs (13st 7)

By far the smallest man on this list, the young Liam Williams punches well above his weight and is a joy to watch. In the style of the great JPR Williams, his speed, imagination, off-load skills and uncanny strength make him a serious attacking force, and I am certain he is destined to become a Welsh great. Never afraid to put his body on the line and continuously taking down men he gives away a good fifty pounds to, Liam Williams is also a massive defensive lift for this Welsh side.

George North

Position- Wing/Centre

Age- 22

Height- 1.94m (6ft 4)

Weight- 109kgs (17st 2)

Who doesn’t remember the way George North picked up Folau like a teddy bear in the 2013 Lions tour? George North is a huge man, possessing insanely unstoppable speed and power, North runs dreamy lines off of his wing, decimating defensive lines for try after try. The Welsh don’t like to admit that George was actually born in Norfolk, but he moved to Anglesey in 1995, where his Welsh allegiance was assured. Still only 22 years old and getting better, faster and stronger as each year goes by, George North is only beginning to tell his story, and what a story it is so far.

FRANCE

It was a terrible year last year for the French and they absolutely have to have an outstanding tournament this year to have any chance of being prepared well for the World Cup. Playing with more of a Southern hemisphere, flare based game, the French are always tricky opponents, but have lost their edge recently. However, the French pack is always known for its strong, stubborn and often brutal treatment of the opposition, so anything could happen.

Thierry Dusautoir

Position- Flanker

Age- 33

Height- 1.88m (6ft 2)

Weight- 100kgs (15st 10)

Thierry Dusautoir is another world class flanker. With 70 international caps under his belt, he is another player that seems to have been around forever. A true athlete, Dusautoir is a highly intelligent player and lynchpin of the French team. These qualities have seen him lead his country many times. Expect to see devastating tackles, turnovers and line-breaks from the energetic Frenchman.

SCOTLAND

Scotland have had a bad last decade or so, they have been stuck in no-mans-land, drifting down the world rankings. They have always had the heart and stubborn Scottish pride, and have played some good rugby over the years, but the tries have been hard to come by. However, everyone loves the underdog and they have enjoyed fierce support from all corners, willing them to succeed. A few surprise wins in friendly fixtures is all they have had to cling onto in recent years, but it now seems that Scotlands’ time has come again. The tries are now flowing, thanks to a combination of some inspiring youngsters and the experience of old heads. After an impressive Autumn series, which included a thrilling, narrow defeat at the hands of the All Blacks, Scotland will hope to break into the top 3 this tournament.

Jim Hamilton

Position- Lock

Age- 32

Height- 2.03m (6ft 8)

Weight- 124kgs (19st 7)

The towering figure of Jim Hamilton is a sight to be seen on a rugby pitch. Known as ‘Big Jim’ for obvious reasons, his aggression and commitment often overflow, landing him in brawls and trouble with officials. This all adds to the magic of Jim Hamilton, because he loves to get in amongst the opposition to stir them up, but when the chips are down, he is always there. ‘Dependable Jim’ would also be a suitable moniker for the fiery Scot.

Richie Gray

Position- Lock

Age-25

Height- 2.08m (6ft 10)

Weight- 128kgs (20st 2)

‘Big Jim’ is far from being the biggest man in the Scotland rugby camp. That prize goes to the skyscraper that is Richie Gray. Standing at nearly seven feet tall and weighing over twenty stone, Richie is one of two impressive Gray brothers in the squad. His sheer size is indispensable in the line-out and his power provides tackles and clear-outs aplenty. He is also capable of incredible speed, and his high-legged style of running means that only the very bravest men will launch themselves towards them pumping knees in any attempt to take him down.

Richie Gray
Richie Gray | Source

ITALY

Since making the 5 Nations, 6 in 2000, Italy have built and built in all areas of their play. Prolific winners of the wooden spoon, the Italians used to be seen as an easy win on any turf. That is no longer the case, with the rise of Italian club rugby and the export of their top players to the best leagues in the world, the Italians, finally, are a force to be reckoned with. Always known for their physicality, Italy now have flair and experience. I fear the wooden spoon will be heading to Rome once again this Spring, but they will not go down without a fight.

Sergio Parisse

Position-8

Age- 31

Height- 1.96m (6ft 5)

Weight- 112kgs (17st 9)

The Argentine born, Parisse is one of the best number eights in the world, and few would deny that he is the best in the 6 Nations. An absolute talisman on the pitch, it is hard to see Italian rugby where it has risen to today without Sergio Parisse. He has the command of his team, the strength and power that comes with being a forward, but also, the skill and imagination of a back. Parisse is a true game changer. Capable of switching the play, surprising the opposition with wild manoeuvres, as well as providing the core skills of an 8, such as monster tackles, Sergio Parisse could walk into any team in the world.

Mauro Bergamasco

Position-Flanker

Age- 35

Height- 1.85m (6ft 1)

Weight- 98kgs (15st 6)

Mauro Bergamasco is... shall we say... the better liked of the two talented Bergamasco brothers. He now holds 100 international caps for his country, although this could be his final year in the colours of the Azzuri. An intelligent and incredibly athletic back-row forward, Mauro Bergamasco will get stuck in as usual this Spring.

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