The Six Nations is in full swing.
Hot favourites Ireland were upset by a resurgent England on match day one, while Wales and Scotland also picked up victories to get their respective campaigns in 2019 off to a good start.
The competition returns this weekend, and ahead of the upcoming fixtures we’ve decided (we have a habit of this) at 90min that it would be perfectly acceptable to build a rugby team of our own…made up of footballers. We’re basing this on the qualities these players have, how physical they are, what positions would fit them best, the usual.
There’s no room for disagreements, there’s been enough of those already as we’ve built this.
1) Loose-Head Prop: Giorgio Chiellini
The (unfashionable) front row. They’re generally the players who will stick their head in where it hurts, and nobody sticks his head in where it hurts better than Giorgio Chiellini does.
The Italian is our loose-head prop; a key component in the scrum, but generally someone who needs to be extremely physical and ridiculously committed. The loose-head needs to do the ball-carrying basics well and be well up for a little bit of head-to-head confrontation.
Perfect fit, really.
2) Hooker: Xherdan Shaqiri
The man is a cube. A power cube. A fridge of a person. He put Romelu Lukaku on his backside once. That’s not easy to do. Especially when you’re 5ft 5.
Shaq is very good technically, too. It’s a desired ability at hooker, perhaps a necessity, as good delivery from the lineout gets the team moving forward. The Swiss forward is excellent at dead ball situations and he brings enough physicality to sit in the pack.
3) Tight-Head Prop: Leonardo Bonucci
Where there’s a Giorgio Chiellini, there’s a Leonardo Bonucci. The one time there wasn’t, Bonucci wanted to rejoin his old buddy after realising he’d made a grave mistake in joining AC Milan for a season.
Bonucci, perhaps more technically gifted than his mate, still has those hard man attributes. And their relationship means they’re a good fit.
4) Lock: Virgil van Dijk
Liverpool’s most expensive player, Virgil van Dijk, has been an absolute colossus since moving to Anfield from Southampton at the start of 2018. He’s been so important, in fact, that he’s actually given Liverpool a real chance of winning the Premier League for the first time ever.
A colossus is exactly what you’ll need in the second row. A dominating presence who’ll turn in an 8/10 for game after game after game. Van Dijk does that, and his team are so much better off for it.
5) Lock: Gianluigi Donnarumma
A second row needs to tower in the air too, catching the lineout ball and feeding it back to start attacks. Milan number one Gigi Donnarumma is a giant, and being a goalkeeper, he has excellent handling.
At 6ft 4in, he’s got an advantage.
6) Blindside Flanker: Sergio Ramos
To put it in the nicest way possible, Sergio Ramos is…a nuisance.
He’ll do anything it takes to win a game of football, whether he’s bending the rules, or breaking them. All that matters is that he’s not caught. Whatever he has to do, he’ll do it – even if it means injuring the opposition’s best player in the most important game in club football.
Mohamed Salah knows.
7) Openside Flanker: Marko Arnautovic
Marko Arnautovic boasts the frame and the attitude for a spot on the rugby pitch, and he can be a nasty piece of work when he wants to be.
He’s moody and plays on the edge, but brilliant when at his best. He’s a solid choice at openside – he’ll run his socks off for the team and a powerful ball carrier with excellent technical skills.
8) Number 8: Paul Pogba
The multi-talented star of the show. The one who can do it all. That’s Paul Pogba.
Manchester United’s main man, technically, is one of the finest footballers you’ll see. It’s impossible to get the ball off him when he’s in the mood. He can carry the ball down the field at an incredible speed, and he’s very difficult to stop when he gets going.
Pogba picking the ball up from the back of a travelling scrum? Potential.
9) Scrum Half: Lionel Messi
The half back pairing of scrum half and fly half (known as the half-backs) play a crucial role in dictating the pace of a game.
They rely on their forwards to give them a platform to play off. But the scrum half must be able to keep up with play and get his side moving forward, using the ball quickly while always retaining the ability to exploit any gap in a defence.
Lionel Messi can spot a gap where there is no gap. He’s one of the best passers of the ball in the world – and that’s often overlooked because of how good he is at everything else – and he absolutely loves attacking.
Due to his diminutive nature too, the little Argentinian maestro fits in well at 9.
10) Fly Half: Kevin de Bruyne
The modern-day fly half is the magician. The tactician. The brains. The director.
Manchester City’s midfield maestro Kevin de Bruyne is the perfect orchestrator, and the right fit for the position because of his precision with the ball at feet.
The best fly-halves control the tempo of a game, and that’s exactly what the Belgian has started to do over the last couple of years at the Etihad.
He’s basically Owen Farrell, but Belgian and orange.
11) Left Wing: Kylian Mbappé
Rugby is such a physical game today, that even the wingers – who generally aren’t involved in most phases of play – need to be able to take care of themselves. They need to be lightning quick, too, and you all know that Kylian Mbappe is nigh-on uncatchable when he gets going.
A winger also needs a killer instinct, and you’ve seen Mbappe finish. He’s ice cold.
12) Inside Centre: Sead Kolasinac
Crash ball. Every single time.
13) Outside Centre: Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale had been stuck on the wing until it dawned on us that the next entry was a perfect fit, so we’ve thrown the Welshman in at outside centre.
It’s the inside centre who generally makes the hard yards and does the straight running in midfield, but his partner boasts a similar physical threat and that extra bit of flair that the 12 doesn’t possess. Bale has about 8,000 times more flair than Sead Kolasinac, so you do the math.
The 13 is the quicker, more dynamic runner, with excellent dribbling skills, speed and agility. He’s able to spot a gap and have the speed of body and mind to get through it. And given his national sport is rugby…you know.
14) Right Wing: Adama Traore
PACE. TO. BURN.
Give Adama Traore the ball out wide and he will run. He will run really, really fast. The Wolves winger is an absolute giant of a man too, but somewhat overlooked for his dribbling ability. He completed most successful dribbles in the Championship last season – and his total was higher than second and third place combined.
His final product probably needs work, but if you create space for this guy and just tell this guy to run past a line, he could do it.
15) Full Back: Ederson
Ederson is the modern day goalkeeper, and while he’s not the speediest, the Brazilian has a pile of qualities which make him the perfect full back.
We’ve gone for the safe option here. Tactical kicking is as important as it’s ever been in the game of rugby union, and kicking is one of Ederson’s best attributes. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that he’s revolutionised the goalkeeper’s position because of how good he is at it.
His precision is unreal. He can arrow a kick 50 yards to the feet of an attacker at Manchester City. He’s quick off his line, his positioning is immaculate, and he’s really good under the high ball. This boy will get your team up the pitch in no time.
One other thing. Have a crucial kick at goal from inside your own half? Ederson’s got it.
Global Express News