There’s no denying that the 2021 Guinness Six Nations threw up one of the most tantalising finishes in history, with the Championship going right down to the wire as France and Wales battled it out for glory.
But while many of us were gripped to our TV screens, there will have been a lot of you who were keeping tally of your Guinness Six Nations Fantasy Rugby points, and seeing just where you were on the leaderboard as managers all over the world jostled for position.
The race for the top was too close to call for much of the final round, with players racking up the points with every tackle made and defender beaten, leaving those topping the leaderboard eagerly awaiting the final standings.
But after all was said and done it was Laurence Williams who rose to the top of the pile on the final day, with the 31-year-old university researcher from Brighton nervously watching on during Super Saturday.
“I don’t remember the exact positions or points gap going into the final round but I thought I had an outside shot,” Laurence said.
“After the second game, having chosen quite a few England players, I thought I’d definitely blown it but was surprised to see that most of the other players at the top of the leaderboard had made the same choice.
“Going into the final game I think I was in third position about 100 points behind the leader so I thought that would be tough to overturn but not impossible.
“One thing I did notice is that most of the other players in the top ten had already used up all of their backs selections, whereas I had gone for Brice Dulin at full-back, so I thought if Brice had a good game then winning was still possible.”
And that hunch eventually proved to be correct, with Laurence celebrating with all the joy of a Frenchman as the full-back dotted down in the dying seconds to see Les Bleus overcome Wales 32-30 in Round 5.
“There were certainly scenes in my living room when Dulin scored his last-minute try in the France v Wales game,” he remembers.
“I had picked him and knew that the other players around me hadn’t. After his disallowed effort, I spent the rest of the game imploring his team mates to give it to Brice, which of course they eventually did.”
But despite the ecstasy of that last-gasp French try, Williams was left with an anxious wait just like his competitors as we furiously tallied up the points to make sure all was correct before posting the scores, leaving him restless over the weekend.
“Having played the game for a few years now I was aware that the leaderboard updates very quickly after a game but then gets updated again a bit later on.
“The initial update had me about 10 or 20 points behind the leader if I remember correctly, but then a later update put me about 30 ahead.
“Going to bed that night I wasn’t sure whether there’d be another update that might potentially switch the positions around again, so I still wasn’t sure I’d won it.”
But it was five weeks of strenuous team picking that got him to the point of being in with a shot of glory in the final seconds of the Championship, with the rotation of his team seeing him pick up big points from a whole range of Guinness Six Nations stars.
“Well I am the founder, chair and to my knowledge only member of the English chapter of the Brice Dulin appreciation club,” he continued.
“Wyn Jones always seemed to bank about 50 points irrespective of the opposition or result. The likes of Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose, Charles Ollivon and Gregory Alldritt were also pretty dependable point scorers throughout.
“I got a lot of points from Teddy Thomas, Anthony Watson, Louis Rees-Zammit and Duhan van der Merwe at various points too.”
And that hard work certainly paid off for Laurence, who now has the choice of any 2022 Guinness Six Nations match to go to, as well as accommodation for the night in whichever city he chooses.
With some of the best stadia in the world to choose from he is spoilt for choice as to where he chooses, although his hopes of seeing the man who made it all possible in the flesh could go some way to deciding where the destination will be.
“As an England fan I’m quite lucky that they’re away in Paris and Rome next year,” he said.
“My girlfriend quite fancies Rome. Her interest in rugby is basically limited to commenting on how the players are all big boys (she took a particular shining to Robbie Henshaw this year for some reason).
“But I’m thinking Paris so I can try and meet my hero Brice.”