England – Jonny Wilkinson
England won three out of the first four editions of the Six Nations Championships, with a hat-trick of silverware from 2000 to 2003. France’s 2002 success intervened a perfect start to the new Championship format, yet England can look back on the tournament’s early days with great fondness. Martin Johnson and Jonny Wilkinson were at the helm for England throughout those three Championship wins, co-capturing England to success.
England then entered a hiatus period, as they failed to win the Six Nations for eight seasons. It was 2011 when they finally re-claimed their crown, with Johnson as the team’s Head Coach, and Wilkinson stepping back in to the side to mentor for the next generation, playing a pivotal role as an off-the-bench impact player. There is a significant debate for both Wilkinson and Johnson to both be regarded as England’s greatest Six Nations player, and it would be considered fair that they shared the accolade.
However, there must be one, and the award goes to Wilkinson. His four Six Nations Championships outweigh Johnson’s three, on the technicality that Johnson’s additional 1995 and 1996 triumphs come under the Five Nations era. The two share their weight in Six Nations gold, yet Wilkinson has more as a player since the Italian inclusion of 2000.
Wilkinson is the second highest points scorer in the competitions 23 year history. He tallied a total of 546 points for England throughout his tenure, and sits below Ronan O’Gara for the all-time record. Owen Farrell is catching Wilkinson in each passing season, just 46 points behind adrift of Wilkinson’s record. Farrell will soon stake a claim as England’s greatest Six Nations player, with three Six Nations titles under his belt as captain.
DID YOU KNOW: Jonny’s brother Mark Wilkinson also played for Newcastle Falcons.
France – Antoine Dupont
A possibly controversial look to the here and now, in a debate which is dominated by the legends of the past. There is no denying that France’s legends of the 2000’s are all rightful contenders to this position. Thierry Dusautoir, Fabien Pelous and Serge Betsen are all definitively in the conversation from the heights of France’s Six Nations heyday.
However, Antoine Dupont in just four international seasons, has established himself to World Rugby Player of the Year standard. Under the tutelage of Fabien Galthie, Dupont revived a French side with a strike of lightning in the nine jersey. It is always important to wait out the initial hype around a new ‘superstar’ player, yet Dupont has proven that he is not a flash in the pan, and should be contended as an all-time France legend, at just 26-years- old.
It took a 12 year wait, for France to win the Six Nations in 2022, as the aforementioned greats of the early 2000s left ‘Les Bleus’ for retirement. Dupont was the defibrillator which re-started the French heart, and captained them to Grand Slam glory, writing his own headlines through his unprecedented control of the game. Audacious offloads, sensational footwork, power and pace, Dupont is the proven whole package for a scrum half.
His moments of magic against Scotland and Ireland, and systematic dismantling of the remaining defences, instantly went viral amongst the modern day rugby community. He was rightfully awarded the 2022 Six Nations Player of the Championship award, and now orchestrates what many believe to be the best international rugby team in the world. Ahead of a Rugby World Cup on home soil, all eyes will be on Dupont once again, throughout the upcoming 2022 Six Nations.
DID YOU KNOW: Antoine Dupont’s brother Clemont is involved in the family’s pig breeding business.