With a first women’s British and Irish Lions tour looking increasingly likely in the future, an extra layer of interest has been added to what should be a fascinating TikTok Women’s Six Nations.
Everyone loves to pick a Lions team – Warren Gatland has just done one without any Wales players in it – and rugby commentator Philippa Tuttiett was happy to take on the challenge.
The majority of the team comes from England, as you’d probably expect given their dominance of world rugby let alone European rugby in recent times.
However, all four Home Unions are represented at least once with Ireland having three players selected, Wales two and Scotland one.
Philippa Tuttiett’s British and Irish Lions Dream Team
1. Linda Djougang (Ireland)
I love players with crossover skills: backs who can tackle like flankers, front-rows, like Linda Djougang, who will hit more rucks than any other player. Her work-rate is incredible. She is an incredible scrummager but it is all the other extras that stands her apart for me.
2. Amy Cokayne (England)
She was the joint-second top try-scorer at the last Rugby World Cup with six tries and is always bang on with her darts when it comes to throwing in.
3. Sarah Bern (England)
She would be as comfortable at centre as she is at prop, her footwork is incredible. She has embarrassed many a full-back in her international career. Still only 25, she will get better and better. She also ticks the scrummaging box and carries hard and direct.
4. Sam Monaghan (Ireland)
Not the biggest second-row there is but her work-rate is phenomenal. Carried over 50 times in the last Six Nations. Always looks to be an option and always gets you go-forward.
5. Zoe Aldcroft (England)
World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year 2021 and a classy lineout operator.
6. Alex Matthews (England)
She is Miss Consistent, never less than nine out of 10. At the last Rugby World Cup she had a 96 per cent tackle rate, and when you consider she is up there as one of the top tacklers, that is incredible. Probably deserves more credit for what she does.
7. Claire Molloy (Ireland)
I could give you two or three different versions of this team and would back them to the hilt and openside is no different. Claire has retired from international rugby but is still playing club rugby and I’d try and persuade her to make a comeback because she is so annoyingly good across the board. So rugby intelligent as well as being a lovely person. Marlie Packer and Alisha Butchers get honorary mentions.
8. Sioned Harries (Wales)
Poppy Cleall and Jade Konkel get honorary mentions here but I’ve gone with Sioned. Alex Matthews quietly goes about her business, Claire Molloy is one of the nicest people in the world so you want someone in that back row who’s got bite, shall we say. Backs her team-mates to the hilt. Very mobile and a strong carrier as well.
9. Mo Hunt (England)
How was she not at the World Cup? But credit to her character for taking the disappointment of not going on the chin. She has performed outstandingly for Gloucester-Hartpury this season. A classy operator and still very nippy.
10. Zoe Harrison (England)
She is injured at the moment but there is a reason why England went on that incredible winning streak and the majority of that time she was at the helm. A classy operator and very selfless and is always looking to set others up.
11. Abby Dow (England)
It defied belief that she came back from that horrendous leg break to be one of the stars of the Rugby World Cup. I know this sounds simple but sometimes you just want a winger who backs themselves and goes. There is no second-guessing with her.
12. Lisa Thomson (Scotland)
I must be honest, she has been around for a while and I had never really seen her do anything particularly special until I saw her play sevens which allowed us to see her skillset, whereas in 15s she was in a team that was mainly on the back foot and wasn’t able to showcase her ability quite as much. In a dominant team, I think she could be really special.
13. Emily Scarratt (England)
What can I tell you that people don’t already know? Her kicking game, her passing game, her carrying game, her ability to read the game … she ticks every box if not more.
14. Jasmine Joyce (Wales)
She brings so much joy to the game. Lightning quick and agile; she can turn on a penny, it is unbelievable. She can be on the deck and then in the blink of an eye, she has released the ball, got to her feet and gained you another two metres. Is in absolute peak condition and her power-to-weight ratio is incredible and she can completely hold her own in the physicality stakes.
15. Helena Rowland (England)
This one is very much based on recent form. She is not a 15 but a 10 or a centre but has slotted impeccably after getting an opportunity through injuries to others. Beats defenders, carries well, kicks well and reads the game well. It is very difficult to find space in the backfield when she is there because she pre-empts everything.