Fantasy Rugby Women’s Six Nations 2024: our top tips

Abby Dow scored six tries in the championship last year – Andrew Cornaga/Photosport via AP

Moving the Women’s Six Nations from the men’s tournament to a separate window has brought several benefits. One of these is the ability to focus on fantasy strategy for the tournament, which has its own game.

Over the past few months, Ben Earl and Juan Ignacio Brex have been carrying my team, Drop Outs RFC. Obviously I’ve made a lot of blunders. The most egregious was the dropping of Duhan van der Merwe, after his quiet display against France, prior to his hat-trick heroics in the Calcutta Cup. That felt pretty stupid; but there is an immediate chance of redemption.

The Women’s Six Nations fantasy game gives you a budget of 240 stars to choose a starting XV and a captain, whose score will double, as well as a ‘super sub’. The latter scores triple points coming off the bench. Otherwise their number will be halved.

Tries count for 10 points, while try assists count for four points. Conversions are two, penalties three and drop goals five. Then come the more nuanced statistics. You get two points for each defender your player beats, and one for every 10 meters he carries. Tackles are worth one point, while break steals are worth five. Line-out steals and 50:22 kicks are valued at seven points.

Breaking discipline is costly. Each penalty awarded is -1, with yellow deducting three points and red cards deducting six points. The Official Player of the Match awards really help you out – thanks, gentlemen Earl and Brex – with a 15 point boost.

That’s it for scoring. As the teams prepare for action, here are some tips to help you build your own side.

Big prizes have to be worth it

Ahead of the first day of competition, three players have the highest price tag of 20 stars: Gabrielle Vernier, Abby Dow and Marlie Packer. They must deliver on every investment. They were phenomenal last season.

Vernier scored five tries, provided two assists and carried 332 metres. Dow plundered six tries, three assists and a whopping 721 meters. Packer, who will captain England when she wins a 100th cap in Italy this weekend, topped the charts with seven tries. Her defense was also ruthless, racking up 73 tackles and seven breakdown steals. She is never too far from the action.

Pauline Bourdon Sansus, Romane and Marine Ménager, Chloe Rollie, Sadia Kabeya, Hollie Aitchison, Jess Breach, Ellie Kilnauw, Zoe Aldcroft and Alex Callender all have an 18-star award. Rollie and Aitchison will be on the benches of Scotland and England this weekend. ‘Super sub’ options for round one?

Keep an eye on Wales’ back rowers

Just as Tommy Reffell and Aaron Wainwright were reliable points sources in the men’s competition, so should their compatriots and fellow back rowers in the women’s competition.

Callender was second only to Packer in turnover distribution last season, picking up six, while No. 8 Bethan Lewis (15 stars) made five and a further two line-out steals. The all-action Alisha Butchers (15 stars) missed the 2023 Six Nations after a fantastic tournament in 2022, in which she recorded 242 running meters and 60 tackles and two steals.

She will start at blindside flanker against Scotland in Cardiff, as Wales look to make a flying start and continue the progress of recent years.

Pack the kickers

Fullbacks are normally the place for an extra place-kicker in the men’s game; think of Tommaso Allan or Thomas Ramos. There is potential for even more unconventional choices in the Women’s Six Nations.

The Scottish hooker Lana Skeldon (16 stars) has previously kicked the posts. Hannah O’Connor (14 stars), named at the end for Ireland against France, is also more than handy from the tee.

Trust the youth to make waves

Sarah Hunter and Jessy Trémoulière both retired last year, underlining that this tournament will be one that launches new stars. Giovanni Raineri, the former Test center who coaches Italy, has high hopes for 22-year-old Francesca Granzotto (9 stars), a scrum-half capable of moving to wing-back or wing-back.

Maddie Feaunati (10 stars), ready for her Red Roses debut from the bench, has English insiders very excited. Another possible ‘super sub’ perhaps? 19-year-old Nel Metcalfe (12 stars) also starts on the left wing for Wales. Katie Corrigan (12 stars), the Irish wing, is even younger at 18. She was a prolific try scorer for Wolfhounds in the Celtic Challenge and has earned a chance at the top level.

Back domestic shape

Evie Gallagher (15 stars) has warmed up for the Scottish campaign with some fine performances for Bristol Bears in the Premiership Women’s Rugby. She made 64 carries and completed 81 tackles and four breakdown steals in last season’s Six Nations.

Think of front rowers who take all the action…

Sisilia Tuipulotu (16 stars) and Skeldon each scored four tries last season, while Neve Jones (16 stars), the Irish hooker, topped the tournament tally with 90 tackles – nine more than anyone else. England’s maul machine has been devastating of late and Lark Atkin-Davies (16 stars) starts at hooker in Rome with Connie Powell (12 stars) on the bench. Hannah Botterman (14 stars) is an exceptional bad luck spoiler.

…and seven speedsters

Jasmine Joyce (16 stars) is the second most expensive player on the Wales squad, while Lisa Thomson (13 stars) and Rhona Lloyd (16 stars) are back from GB Seven duty to start in the Scotland backline.

Banking on English rule?

John Mitchell will be eager for England to pick up where they left off in 2023, when they achieved a second successive Grand Slam and a fifth straight championship title. Emily Scarratt (16 stars) is back in an unfamiliar role of inside centre, as is lineout guru Abbie Ward (16 stars). Their biggest challenge appears to be a trip to Bordeaux in the final round. France will not roll over.

When I asked around for recommendations for this article, one response was simply: “Madoussou Fall. Big.” Fall, who plays for Stade Bordelais, earns you 13 stars. The former basketball player will start in Le Mans on Saturday.

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