Round 1 of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations had it all, with world class tries galore and historical moments in all three matches, which had a big impact on Guinness Six Nations Fantasy Rugby.
Ireland lived up to their status as the best side in world rugby with an emphatic 34-10 victory over Wales in Cardiff, while a Duhan van der Merwe inspired Scotland continued their recent form against England with a 29-23 win at Twickenham.
Italy and France played out a nail-biting encounter in Rome on Sunday, with Les Bleus opening their title defence with a 29-24 win at the Stadio Olimpico thanks to Matthieu Jalibert’s late try.
Plenty of action then across the three matches and plenty of fantasy points up for grabs, but what did we learn from Round 1 that we can take into our Round 2 teams?
Best of social: The Championship is back!
Captain options deliver
Captaincy is such a key aspect of Fantasy Rugby, with double points often the key difference between a good week and a great week and this week that was made even more clear, with the majority of the popular captains delivering.
France full-back Thomas Ramos was on the scoresheet, Antoine Dupont was awarded Player of the Match and Johnny Sexton kicked 16 fantasy points from the tee, while other popular picks in Duhan van der Merwe delivered the big points after his two tries and Player of the Match performance at Twickenham.
The single most important decision each week remains your captaincy, and this week, the popular picks proved a success.
Capuozzo is fixture proof
Ange Capuozzo is a wizard, it is as simple as that. After dazzling in last year’s Championship with a brace against Scotland and that try assist against Wales, Capuozzo then impressed further in the autumn.
Against France though, there were question marks whether he could continue that form, and with the likes of James Lowe, Damian Penaud, Van der Merwe and Ramos proving very popular, Capuozzo became a differential in the opening week.
Five things we learned from Italy v France
His try however shows that he, perhaps more than anyone else in the Championship this year, is capable of pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
It does not matter who he plays, it seems inevitable that he will deliver you points, and that will raise significant selection headaches.
Lowe remains key option
James Lowe was joint-top try scorer in the 2022 Championship, but after missing the Autumn Nations Series with injury, came into the Championship this year under the radar.
Five things we learned from Wales v Ireland
Yet in Cardiff he was once again a top performer, not just scoring a game-settling intercept try, but also making a line-break, racking up 112 metres carried as well as defensively being on top with four tackles and a breakdown steal.
The options in the back three are mounting up after this weekend, but Lowe has proven in the past and again this year that he is someone who must be seriously considered each week, despite his hefty price tag of 18.3 stars.
Duhan the man, but Russell catches the eye
No player earned more points than Van der Merwe in Round 1 after his breath-taking performance in the Calcutta Cup, making him a clear option for Round 2, but there was another man who was perhaps even more impressive, Finn Russell.
Five things we learned from England v Scotland
Russell was defensively on fire, making 10 tackles, of which one was dominant, while he carried for 85 metres from fly-half, and kicked Scotland’s goals.
He was also hugely important for Scotland creatively, something which will lead to try assists or even tries in future, Russell is always entertaining to watch, but that does not always translate into fantasy points – if Twickenham is anything to go by it will not be long till it does.
Supersub options becoming clearer
One of the biggest swings each week can be whether you got your supersub right or not, but week one gave us clearer indication of who the main men in the supersub role are likely to be.
Matthieu Jalibert was easily the pick of the bunch, coming on to secure the game winning try, which would equal 45 points if chosen as your supersub, but shoutouts have to go to Ben Earl and Sekou Macalou, two back row options who represent great value.
Earl’s 42 metres carried, two tackles and one dominant tackle are formidable stats for someone who played just 20 minutes, and we know from Saracens that he is more than capable of crossing the try line.
Macalou’s underlying stats are far less impressive, making four tackles and a breakdown steal, but the energy he brings and his ball carrying ability surely make him one to consider going forward.