There is some difference between Fantasy Rugby points and on-pitch impressions. The two things are not, necessarily, closely related. And the metrics can be easily questioned but they are the same for everyone and are easy to follow.
Scotland were far more than the sum of their individual Fantasy Rugby-scoring parts on Sunday as they out-hustled France off the ball and out-thought them on it. It was a bad day at the office for Fabien Galthie’s side and they paid the price, blowing away the chance to achieve their first Grand Slam since 2010.
Wales fell, too. They were simply overpowered by England at Twickenham and did well not to be completely overwhelmed.
Scotland and England may well dominate less stats-driven teams of the Six Nations weekend, but we are constrained by the numbers, not to mention the four players from each nation limit. So, on a weekend of just two games, meet the four Scots, four English, four Wales and three French players who make ESPN Fantasy Rugby’s team of the week.
Sean Maitland – 11.66 points, 3.7% owned
The 3.7% of ESPN Fantasy Rugby managers who have Maitland on their team this week will be dancing in the streets. After three quiet outings, he had a stormer of a game, bagging two tries as Scotland ran France ragged.
Anthony Watson – 10.22 points, 3.7% owned
Another one of the lesser-owned, and one of two outside backs who made their mark after missing the opening three games of the 2020 Six Nations, Watson’s try was superb and ultimately influential in what ended a very close contest.
Damien Penaud – 6.82 points, 13.6% owned
Penaud worked hard on his return to Les Bleus starting lineup after missing the opening three games through injury. He scored a try, courtesy of a delightful Dupont kick-pass, and found success on the wing time and again.
Hadleigh Parkes – 6.36points, 23.2% owned
This is an odd call, and one driven very much by the stats. Parkes was physical — occasionally, perhaps, too physical as he is likely to be cited for a high tackle — but his handling was not up to his usual standards. But Parkes did make a try-scoring pass, beat defenders and made ground which is meat and drink to the ESPN Fantasy Rugby stats gurus.
Sam Johnson – 5.7points, 20% owned
Think Six Nations centres, and you think Manu Tuilagi, Virimi Vakatawa, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, or Garry Ringrose. For many, Johnson will come way down the list, which is a shame. Every team needs someone like him, someone to do the graft that makes everyone else look good. And he’s done enough to stand third in the overall Fantasy Rugby rankings for centres, ahead of a good number of more illustrious players.
Dan Biggar – 13.78points, 17.5% owned
We’ll stick to the key Fantasy Rugby stats for this one as well as it is arguable that George Ford was the better fly-half at Twickenham, while Adam Hastings also has a shout for the non-stat-led fly-half of the weekend calls. But the try and the metres gained metric nailed this slot for Biggar. The Welshman is now the leading Fantasy Rugby points scorer in 2020, too…
Ben Youngs – 11.66 points, 4.4% owned
A vintage player of the match performance at Twickenham from the Leicester man — on his 99th England outing — that should silence the crowd demanding coach Eddie Jones finds a new model scrum-half. His inside pass for Watson’s try was a thing of beauty.
Charles Ollivon – 9.38points, 33.4% owned
It’s the late try — his fourth in this tournament — that got France captain Ollivon a slot in ESPN’s Fantasy Rugby team of the week. It also spared the worst of French blushes on a day of frustration.
James Ritchie – 8.34 points, 14% owned
His performance will be remembered mainly for his role as punchee in the sending off of Bleus’ prop Haouas — but he was a thorough nuisance at the breakdown all afternoon. A purists’ back-row performance … no wonder he was named player of the match.
Justin Tipuric – 20.93 points, 56.1% owned
Nothing to see here. Just Justin Tipuric doing Justin Tipuric things. A brace of tries in a losing cause helped the back-row’s Fantasy Rugby stats — but his defence and silken work with ball in hand in a difficult game for Wales would probably have earned him an honourable mention here, anyway.
Bernard Le Roux – 2.98 points, 8.8% owned
The old man of this French team has had an outstanding championship and, while he was nowhere near as effective against a Scotland side that had Les Bleus’ sussed, he still put in a tireless day’s work.
Maro Itoje – 5.66 points, 56.3% owned
Itoje appears to have inherited Richie McCaw’s cloak of referee invisibility, and he used it to great effect at Twickenham on Saturday, where he made a complete nuisance of himself all afternoon. He’ll be in the post-match nightmares of more than one Wales player for at least a week.
Joe Marler – 2.96 points, 1.1% owned
That Alun Wyn Jones incident probably won’t impress the blazers — with good reason and he has since been cited — but there is a reason England ruled the scrum roost at Twickenham, and he was a big part of it.
Stuart McInally – 9.82 points, 8.7% owned
A pick-and-mix performance from McInally, who came on as a replacement for Brown in the second half. His lineout work was patchy, and his try was lucky, as he picked up the loose ball from a stolen lineout on his own throw. But Scotland fans, as well as the Fantasy Rugby stats, do not care a fig for luck… or the patchy bits.
Ken Owens – 2.26 points, 42.1% owned
It was probably honours even in the battle of the Lions’ hookers — but the Sheriff did his bit at the set piece and in the loose. And he is one of just a few in World Rugby who will not flinch when he sees Manu Tuilagi heading full-seed in his direction.