For one reason or another, humans compartmentalise periods of time. Years are significant. Convenient 365-day chunks used to organise our life – separating one orbit of the Sun from the next. We look back on these chunks: we examine, we analyse, we review; and we use that retrospection to form some sort of narrative.
We do this, too, with decades. They hold significance for society as we try a define one 10-year periods for what they represented. ‘The Roaring Twenties’, ‘The Swinging Sixties’: I don’t know why we do this, but we do. Maybe blame the Romans?
Either way, this human obsession with decades gives us even more opportunity to look back. And as this is a rugby website, we’ll look back through the lens of rugby. I thought I’d do this by making my Six Nations Team of the Decade. I’m selecting this based on longevity, quality and achievement for players from the Six Nations; and don’t slag me off if you disagree, it’s just my opinion.
The sixth most-capped player in rugby union history and the most capped front row forward. Winning the 2012 and 2013 Six Nations and featuring in two Lions tours this decade before retiring. He’s been class.
Was never going to be anyone else. An immense hooker who went out a hero at this 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Mates with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 199 caps for Italy: I mainly just picked him for the hair.
Alun Wyn Jones
A bit like Rory Best: you can’t not pick him. A worthy nominee for Sports Personality of the Year, Alun Wyn comes across like the Father you always wanted.
This one was a bit tougher. The thing about Courtney Laws is that he is actually very good at rugby. Despite injury setting him back, he’s also been around for a long time; and he did well to get himself back in England’s starting team for this World Cup.
Captaining France to the World Cup Final in 2011 and scoring France’s only try in that game, Dusautoir was so consistent before his retirement in 2015.
Captain of both of the Lions tours this decade it’s a shame that his most memorable act of the last ten years was probably his red card in the 2011 World Cup Semi-Final. Still, you’d have him any day.
Sergio Parisse has captained Italy to 34 defeats in the Six Nations this decade, but his still makes it in my team without second thought. That’s how good he is. The type of player that you wish could have been eligible for the Lions.
It was a toss-up between him and Conor Murray. And maybe I just picked Phillips because I wanted more representation from the start of the decade. But on his day, he was very good.
Again, it was a tough one between Sexton and Farrell. I think, over the course of the decade, Sexton has been more outstanding as a player, more creative. That’s why Gatland opted with him at 10 for the Lions over his English counterpart.
Powerful runner, great finisher – and even though he had a bit of a slump and a weird period where he kept getting knocked out – he’s been the stand-out winger of the decade.
Someone also troubles by injury, but – as this World Cup has shown – almost unstoppable when he’s fit.
Now, don’t have a go at me for not picking BOD. He retired in 2014 and spent the last years of his career playing through pain and thus losing some of the pace he had in the naughties. Davies has been so consistent for Wales this decade whilst still seeming a player that somewhat goes under the radar.
Remember those sideburns?
He made 12 tries this decade and scored 12 of his own in the Six Nations. Essentially, he’s been a good player in a pretty bad team.
By Will Sewell.