monty ioane
With Round 1 behind us and the first frenetic week of Fantasy Rugby action in the books, it is time to take stock and review the big lessons from the opening round.

Who benefited from the new scoring model the most? Did the big names deliver? On the evidence of Round 1 are there any players we should be targeting for Round 2? All this and more in the first ‘What We Learned’ of the 2024 Guinness Men's Six Nations.

Firstly, it is worth reflecting on the new scoring model and what it means for overall scores. In all, with team scoring removed, and the other points readjustments in place on this year’s game, any score over 25 (Something that only 16 players achieved) was considered excellent. It was also interesting to see which positions these top 16 players were based in. Out of the players scoring more than 25 points, 5 were back row, 5 were back three, 2 were second row, 2 were fly-halves, 1 was a hooker and 1 was a prop. This is real food for thought when it comes to the Captain and Supersub selections and which positions seem to attract the most points.

Another big lesson was hammered home on Friday night. Ireland look like the team to beat this year. Both from an overall performance and from a fantasy perspective, they were outstanding. In Marseille on Friday night there were multiple outstanding fantasy performances. None more so than in the second row with Tadhg Beirne (44 points including 1 try, 7 tackles, 72m carried, 2 lineout steals and 1 breakdown steal) and Joe McCarthy (33 points including 1 Player of the Match, 9 tackles, 43m carried and 3 defenders beaten). Elsewhere Jack Crowley (31 points) stamped his authority on the international game and Dan Sheehan (28 points) continued his excellent try-scoring form at the international level.

As you can only select 4 players from any one nation, the big question in Round 2 is which 4 do you select? Ireland will be at home against Italy, in what should be a more open game, so do you go with their top scorers from Round 1? Or do you look to their traditional top fantasy scorers in the likes of James Lowe, Hugo Keenan, Bundee Aki, Caelan Doris or Josh van der Flier. Some very tough selection decisions to be made.

One question that needed answering in Round 1 was whether the premium Back 3 options of Damian Penaud, Duhan van der Merwe and Lowe will live up to their big price tags? Penaud had a tough match against Ireland but still, as always, crossed over to score, and you would expect him to have more joy against less stern defences over the rest of the tournament. Lowe also had a quiet night, and you would expect to him to have a bigger performance in Round 2. Van der Merwe on the other hand was the equal top performing Back 3 (alongside Monty Ioane) in Round 1 with 38 points from 2 tries, 95m carried and 3 defenders beaten. In all three cases, you would expect some strong points returns in most of the following rounds. Interestingly both Lowe and Penaud’s price has fallen after Round 1 (Lowe from 20 to 19.2 and Penuad from 20 to 19.4), while van der Merwe rose from 18 to 18.3.

The next area we learned a bit more about is on the Supersubs. Firstly, with the average scores generally being lower, while the SuperSub remains a potentially huge source of points, you won’t be completely left behind in your league if you don’t pick a high scoring Supersub. The top 3 subs in Round 1 were all not commonly selected. They were Alex Mann (26 points scored in 32 minutes, including 1 try, 9 tackles, 50m carried and 1 defender beaten), Sam Skinner (21 points in 49 minutes including 10 tackles and 2 lineout steals) and Ronan Kelleher (17 points in 17 minutes including a try, 19m carried, 1 defender beaten and 4 tackles). Many were left disappointed with the most popular Supersub pick, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, only getting 2 minutes on the field. If there is a lesson to take from this, it seems that in the forwards is the best place to choose your Supersub.

Finally, Round 1 showed us that Italy are not to be underestimated. They may be outsiders for the tournament, but they were excellent against England and they had 6 players score over 20 or more including Monty Ioane (38 points), Tommaso Menoncello (35 points), Tommaso Allan (24 points), Lorenzo Cannone (22 points), Alessandro Garbisi (20 points) and Paolo Garbisi (20 points). With some excellent value to be had, don’t ignore the Azzurri!

So there’s five big lessons learned for Round 1. Round 2 comes around straight away, so stay tuned for more Fantasy Rugby content this week, including the Round 2 picks, which will go live on Friday.

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