Player of the Championship – Classic Winners: Jacob Stockdale 2018

Jacob Stockdale had never played a Six Nations match prior to the 2018 Championship getting underway – by the end of it, he was a record-breaker.

Jacob Stockdale had never played a Six Nations match prior to the 2018 Championship getting underway – by the end of it, he was a record-breaker.

The electric wing, then just 21, took to the competition like a proverbial duck to water and scored a remarkable seven tries in five matches to help Ireland to their third Grand Slam.

It is a tally unmatched before or since in the Six Nations era, while braces against Italy, Wales and Scotland made the Ulster man the first player to score multiple tries in three consecutive Championship matches for more than a century.

Stockdale’s irresistible form provided the spark for a dominant Irish outfit who topped the table by 11 points, sealing their clean sweep with a memorable victory over old foes England at Twickenham.

Such ambitions were almost thwarted on the very first weekend, however, as Stockdale and Ireland travelled to Paris…


A packed Stade de France. A primetime Saturday teatime kick-off. Teddy Thomas lying in wait as your opposite number.

Six years earlier, Stockdale had been struggling to make the first XV at Wallace High School in Lisburn – now he was in at the deep end for his Six Nations debut.

Les Bleus were beginning life under new coach Jacques Brunel and looked on the verge of providing him with an ideal start when Thomas scythed through the Irish backline to edge the hosts in front by a point with eight minutes remaining.

But Ireland refused to throw in the towel and gained their reward in dramatic fashion when Johnny Sexton, who had earlier slotted four penalties, sent a drop goal spiralling between the posts after 41 phases of Irish pressure with the clock in the red.

It was a famous win for Joe Schmidt’s side and a successful start to life in the Championship for Stockdale, who announced himself in style over the weeks that followed.


Ireland took the momentum from their late win in Paris into the clash with Italy in Round 2, with a bonus point wrapped up by half-time in Dublin.

Stockdale took advantage of a tiring visiting defence in the second half and crossed for his first Six Nations try on the hour mark, coming in off his wing to hit an unstoppable line and dive over.

He didn’t have to wait long to double his tally, intercepting Tommaso Castello’s loose pass and showing his express pace with a 70-metre run to the line for the last of his side’s eight tries in a 56-19 win.

Wales were next to visit the Aviva Stadium for a Round 3 classic which was bookended by Stockdale scores.

The wing opened his account for the afternoon in the seventh minute, dotting down in the left corner after a superb flat pass by Sexton.

A contest which ebbed and flowed throughout entered added time with Wales in possession and trailing by three, only for Stockdale’s predatory instincts to come to the fore once more as he claimed his second interception try in as many games to settle the outcome.

Remarkably, he was at it again just 22 minutes into Ireland’s Round 4 clash as Scotland fell into the same trap.

This time it was Peter Horne who attempted a looping pass out wide and Stockdale snaffled it, sprinting in from the halfway line to put his side in front in Dublin.

A third consecutive brace was sealed before the break courtesy of neat footwork just inside the touchline as the in-form wing became the first Irishman to score six tries in a Six Nations campaign.

Ireland’s 28-8 success left them on the brink of the Championship and the title was sealed later that day by England’s defeat in Paris. All that remained now was the Grand Slam…


Following three successive home games, Ireland were back on the road for Round 5 as they went in search of their first win at Twickenham since 2010.

Tries from Garry Ringrose and CJ Stander got the visitors off to a flyer and after Elliot Daly got England on the board, Ireland’s man of the moment took centre stage.

A delicate chip over Mike Brown set up a race to the line and though Stockdale didn’t gather cleanly, he was able to pounce on the ball inches before it went dead – making full use of an in-goal area which had been extended by two metres prior to kick-off.

Schmidt’s side held off an England fightback to win 24-15 and claim a historic Grand Slam, with Stockdale the obvious choice as Player of the Championship following his free-scoring campaign.

The wing now has 18 tries in 34 Tests and remains a key part of the Irish set-up under Andy Farrell, making his return from injury to feature in the Super Saturday victory over England which rounded off their 2021 Championship.