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Six Nations 2024 fantasy rugby: Cheat sheet with the best tips

Duhan van der Merwe scores a try against England
Duhan van der Merwe scored big against England - Shutterstock/Robert Perry

A new Six Nations brings with it another official fantasy game, which is slightly different from the one that had me tearing my hair out in France at the World Cup. Why, oh why did I captain Matthieu Jalibert instead of Damian Penaud for the hosts’ defeat of Namibia? But I digress, here are my fantasy tips for this year’s Six Nations:

How to select players

Users are given a budget of 240 stars to pick a starting line-up from all six squads. The most expensive players, James Lowe and Penaud, cost 20 stars, and all of them have been categorised by position. You need three back three players, two centres, a fly-half and a scrum-half in the backline. Up front, the pack must be made up of three back-rowers, a pair of locks, two props and a hooker. Do not get hung up over tighthead and loosehead props if you do not want to. There does not need to be one of each.

As for bonus roles, the captain tag does what it has done in most fantasy games across sports down the years; it doubles that player’s score. A very interesting wrinkle for this Six Nations game, which adds a strategic element, is the ‘supersub’ chip. This triples the points of an additional player that comes off the bench. However, if that player starts, they will only return half of the points they earn.

How to score points

The Six Nations game is more stripped back than the World Cup one. That said, as well as metrics like tries, assists, tackles and turnovers, the scoring index includes 50:22 kicks, which are worth a significant boost of seven points. Line-out steals are worth the same. Most valuable, though, are coveted player-of-the-match awards. These net you a whopping 15 points. As ever, cards will cost the most. Yellows set you back three points, with a sending-off carrying a six-point sanction.

Tips

Duhan and James are both worth it…

Do not try to be too clever or baulk at the price of premium wings. Duhan van der Merwe (18.9 stars) returned 38 points from the Cardiff thriller in round one, amassing 95 metres on the way to two tries. He was extremely quiet against France, with a four-point return causing his price to drop, but loves facing England and landed a monstrous 68 points in round three – despite picking up a yellow card. His hat-trick and player-of-the-match award made for a humongous haul. Lowe (19.6 stars) bagged 50 points against Italy, with 22 more from the win over Wales. Plus, he scored in the first six minutes last time Ireland visited Twickenham.

…but do you keep the faith with Damian?

Penaud now costs 18.2 stars, down from the initial maximum of 20 after three rather underwhelming games to begin the tournament. He still registered 17 points in round one and a further 11 at Murrayfield thanks to 75 running metres and four beaten defenders. Then he earned 23 in the draw with Italy. His ability to beat defenders and glide over the ground means he is capable of massive returns. Do you trust that France will bust out of this clunky form? If they do, Penaud will surely score big.

Consider kicking full-backs

Thomas Ramos (17.2 stars) was not particularly eye-catching against Scotland, but still amassed 31 points thanks to his accuracy from the tee and 165 running metres. He then picked up 24 points in Lille on a forgettable afternoon for France. With Jalibert out injured, the Toulouse playmaker looks likely to switch to fly-half.

Back yourself with newbies

A scan of the scoring lists suggests that relatively unproven internationals come cheap. Joe McCarthy and Tommy Freeman were at 11 and 8 stars, respectively, before round one began. They proved to be rewarding bargains straightaway. McCarthy scored 33 points, boosted by his player-of-the-match award. Freeman landed 27 points himself. Prices shift up and down, just as they do in Fantasy Premier League (FPL), so move quickly. McCarthy is now at 12.1 stars, with Freeman at 9. Jack Crowley (14 stars) and Calvin Nash (11.9) have been big climbers, and could keep rising with Wales next for Ireland. Alex Mann, the 22-year-old back-rower, has scored twice in his first two Tests and still costs only 10.2 stars. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, meanwhile, has surged to 13.5 stars with a try-scoring 21 points off the bench at Murryafield.

Positional flexibility

Just as Fantasy Premier League (FPL) players scour databases for midfielders that are labelled as defenders or forwards that have been put into the midfielder bracket, rugby presents similar opportunities. Tommaso Menoncello (now 12.4 stars) is down as a back-three player. The explosive Italy star has been exclusively at centre for Benetton this season and punched holes superbly against England, before moving to the wing later. He registered 35 points in defeat and then 30 more against France in round three from the wing.

Magic metrics

Finn Russell will be kicking at goal for Scotland and is sure to keep putting himself in the frame for further points with try assists. He is also reasonably prolific when it comes to 50:22s, a seven-point feat that could make your week. Russell began the championship with 40 points as Scotland edged Wales before landing 24 and 23 against France and England, respectively. With breakdown steals worth five and line-out steals seven, disruptors such as Maro Itoje (15.9 stars), Tadhg Beirne (17.6 stars), Tommy Reffell (13.9 stars) and Rory Darge (11.5 stars) will be tempting.

Supersub options

One name springs to mind immediately at the thought of the ‘supersub’ bonus; that of Nolan le Garrec (9.3 stars). The scampering scrum-half has plundered six tries for Racing 92 in the Top 14. Ronan Kelleher (13.4 stars) scored from the bench in round one for Ireland, as did Mann (10 stars) for Wales. The latter has been promoted into Warren Gatland’s starting line-up. The free-running Ryan Baird (14 stars) is another dynamic bench man. But you do not want your supersub to start, because their points are halved…

Keep an eye out for updates

Le Garrec could well usurp Maxime Lucu soon enough, so keep an eye out for announcements towards the end of match weeks. Unlike FPL, one can change a Six Nations fantasy team mid-round, as long as players’ teams have not already taken the field. That means, if you are alert enough, you can step in to withdraw those that have withdrawn themselves in real life.

Engine men

One point per tackle, as opposed to one every five tackles as other rugby games have awarded, makes the defensive grafters more valuable. Michele Lamaro (12 stars) is worth considering. Italy’s skipper has completed 55 tackles across the first three rounds. He has scored well enough to enhance his value despite two Italy losses and a draw. Ben Earl (17.0 stars) racked up 46 points with a try-scoring, play-of-the-match effort against Wales and then 31 more against Scotland. Reffell is relentless as well.

Respect mauling

An obvious one, but Dan Sheehan (18 stars) is the tournament’s second top try-scorer after three rounds. The marauding hooker offers far more than just mauling, too.

Can you second guess player-of-the-match winners?

The value of a player-of-the-match award in this game means it is worth trying. They usually go to someone on the winning side – which made Aaron Wainwright’s gong against Scotland particularly rare – and poor front-rowers are mostly ignored. Gaël Fickou’s recognition against Scotland boosted the centre’s overall score to 44 points after 13 in the first round. His value, 17.5 stars, remains among the highest in the game. Bundee Aki (17.8 stars) recorded 48 points against Wales, too.

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