Now that the 2010 6 Nations tournament is at a close, who is the ‘man of the championship’? France secured the Grand Slam in a less than convincing win against England and Ireland gave away the match to Scotland, losing the chance at a Triple Crown.
All of that being said, these are my contestants for ‘man of the championship’.
I’ve narrowed it down to four players, although I’m quite certain in my opinion who the ‘man of the championship’ is. My first consideration is Irish scrum half Tomas O’Leary. O’Leary slotted in two tries in the tournament, an impressive feat considering he plays scrum half. O’Leary often acted as a third center in my opinion, making important tackles and running with the ball with complete abandon. Without Mike Phillips playing in the championship, for me, Tomas O’Leary was the dominant scrum half of the tournament.
Morgan Parra and Imanol Harinorduquoy also deserve strong consideration. Parra was effective enough as scrum half, making very few mistakes and delivering good ball to fly half Francois Trinh-Duc. He was most effective though from the tee as an automatic converter of penalties and conversions. At 21 years old, Parra was most impressive in this years 6 Nations tournament.
Imanol Harinorduquoy had yet another impressive 6 Nations, proving to be a potent attacker and key component of France’s attack. For me he was a bit one-dimensional in his game because I never really saw him do much rather than run with the ball.
Lastly, we have Dan Parks, the Scottish fly half who was absolutely automatic from the tee and also was masterful when kicking out of hand. Parks was a key player on the Scottish attack, distributing good ball to his backs.
When I think of the title ‘man of the tournament’, I think of a player who was vital to their team, a player who without, their team would have not been able to function at all. Tomas O’Leary was a good candidate but after his performance against Scotland, which was a little off, I can rule him out. Parra and Harinorduquoy cancel each other out for me because France had so many talented players on thier side. I could have easily included Clement Pouitrenaud in the conversation, given his consistent, crucial play at the full back position.
My ‘man of the tournament’ is Dan Parks of Scotland. He was named man of the match three times in this tournament and was automatic from the tee when it counted. He single handly put Ireland away and while Scotland did have a disappointing tournament in terms of the win column, they would have been dismantled in every match they played if not for Parks. Scotland could have and should have finished the tournament with three wins and it was all due to Parks and his command of the back line. I know I’m naming player who’s team narrowly escaped the ‘wooden spoon’ title, but I’m sticking with Parks who was the key to Scotland this year. Parks is a player to watch and will be the lynch pin in Scotland’s plans to be competitive in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.