Fantasy Rugby: Here's who you should have picked last year

Last year was a big year for rugby. Wales claimed the Six Nations Grand Slam while England were left once again licking their wounds following a thrashing from South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final.

While it may be enjoyable, we're not here to make English supporters question why a team that dominated the All Blacks failed to win any silverware last year. Instead, we want to help you find the perfect pairings so your fantasy team can win our Six Nations Fantasy tournament.

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Here is a quick recap of how the teams finished in last year's Six Nations as well as a handy guide to the top-performing fantasy players of 2019.

Wales won the tournament with 23 points while England racked up the most tries (24) to finish second, four points ahead of 2018 Grand Slam winners Ireland. Scotland retained the Calcutta Cup in a game so DRAMATIC it justifies the capital letters, yet finished fifth, below rudderless France. Sadly, Italy's losing tournament streak extended to 22 matches.

Many of our fantasy managers last year didn't stay faithful to their early choice, big-name players in the hope they'd come good. Just two of the top six most-selected players scored enough points to make the 2019 ESPN Fantasy Rugby Team of the Tournament.

Outside Backs

Jonny May

55 points, 61.7% owned

Six tries in the tournament -- including that first-half hat trick in round two against France. Only Wales were able to stop him from crossing the whitewash. May, who runs like he's made entirely of knees, also had a stellar World Cup scoring three tries and may well find himself in the team of the tournament again in 2020.

Gareth Anscombe

40 points, 1.7% owned

Yes, we know. Anscombe started four of the five matches in the 2019 tournament at No. 10 and was a replacement against Italy. But he shifted to fullback in the last two, and that's where the Fantasy Rugby points elves have picked him. More importantly, he proved more than a few doubters wrong over the five matches, winning a place in two teams of the week, and the player-of-the-match award on the glorious, rain-soaked Grand Slam-winning day in Cardiff.

Yoann Huget

36 points, 17.5% owned

Huget is one of those players who can play the part of the good, the bad, and the ugly in one match -- as he did in the tournament-opening game between France and Wales; and again in the calamity at Twickenham, when he started at fullback. Put it this way: it's a good job Fantasy Rugby doesn't dock points for poor play. Still, four tries in the tournament isn't a bad scoring return -- and they are, mostly, why Huget made the Team of the Tournament.


Owen Farrell

50 points, 80.6% owned

One of the ESPN Fantasy Rugby big-guns -- playing out of his real-life Six Nations position here -- who delivered the points for the four out of five managers who had him in their team. The dominant win in France was his big one, as it was for several England players. There were questions over Farrell as captain after relatively anonymous performances in the loss to Wales and the draw against Scotland. However, the England talisman retained his dual role of captain and playmaker during the World Cup and nearly led England to the Web Ellis Cup in Japan.

Henry Slade

37 points, 10% owned

Three tries in a pair of fine personal performances in the opening two matches of the 2019 Six Nations had pundits purring. Some even declared England's outside centre slot filled for the foreseeable future. Wales closed him down and, briefly, shut them up but he showed more creative glimpses when he regained his starting place for that crazy tournament-closing game against Scotland.


Finn Russell

40 points, 14.7% owned

Who knows what would have happened if Russell had been fit for Scotland's game against France? Yes, it takes more than one player to win a game of rugby, but when the mood takes him, the Racing fly-half brings something no ordinary player can bring. His inspiration -- reportedly triggered by "robust words" with coach Gregor Townsend in the dressing room at half-time -- was all over Scotland's second-half comeback against England.


Conor Murray

35 points, 44.7% owned

Not Murray's greatest Six Nations on the pitches of Ireland, Scotland, Italy and Wales. He'll probably be among the first to admit that. But Fantasy Rugby points don't take personal standards into account -- and Murray scored plenty, notably against Italy, when he crossed the try line and took over kicking duties.

Front Row

Jamie George

32 points, 21.5% owned

Hooker Jamie George was solid in scrum and lineout, worked hard in defence, tackled effectively and carried well. His performance was no doubt a comfort to Jones who left Dylan Hartley at home for the World Cup later that year. George even scored a try in England's win over Tonga.

Stuart McInally

30 points, 20.8% owned

Yes. Another hooker. Such are the rules of ESPN Fantasy Rugby that it's possible to have two hookers in the front row. McInally was steady enough all tournament -- but the ex-flanker really burst through with his charge down try against England that sparked the flickers of Scottish resistance in the Calcutta Cup comeback.

Allan Dell

23 points, 17.8% owned

The Scottish loosehead's honest graft won him a slot in ESPN's Fantasy Rugby Team of the Week three times. He even made it on the final week, when he wasn't at his best. One of those quiet performers who most won't notice -- but those in the know will. That's how he will like it.

Second Row

George Kruis

30 points, 18.8% owned

Kruis did all the things a coach would want from a good lock -- a banker and nuisance at the lineout, depending on whose throw it was, and a trojan in defence. He scored a try against Italy, for good measure, and his chargedown that gave Brad Shields his second against the Azzurri probably should have counted as an assist ... Fantasy Rugby managers who narrowly lost out on bragging rights as a result can claim this as an injustice.

James Ryan

23 points, 15.8% owned

It's a cruel mistake to compare players to past legends, so we won't. Ryan, however, cemented a burgeoning reputation as one of Ireland's core players for years to come -- it's hard to believe he is only 22. Interesting to note that England and Wales managed to keep him quiet last year.

Back Row

Tom Curry

39 points, 11.4% owned

What more is there to say? It's easy to get carried away with the hype, but the 20-year-old really performed all tournament as if he ha several years more experience. Jones seemed to hold off selecting him despite the clamour for an age, but even he could not deny Curry any longer. After an impressive tournament, he has the potential for an impressive future.

Gregory Alldritt

32 points, 3.8% owned

It's understandable why only 3.8 percent of Fantasy Rugby managers picked the 21-year-old from La Rochelle. He only started one match in the entire tournament -- the last one against Italy -- and barely got a look-in in the opening two games, when he racked up just two of the 32 Fantasy Rugby points he eventually scored. But two tries against Scotland, after coming on in the 69th minute, boosted his numbers, and two more solid performances -- even in France's Dublin nightmare -- won him a place in the Team of the Tournament.

Abraham Steyn

32 points, 10.7% owned

Steyn put in some serious shifts in another run of losing causes -- scoring a try against Wales, and nearly getting another against France. Alongside Jake Polledri and Sebastian Negri, he looks set to make up one-third of a genuinely menacing Italy back-row for several years to come.