The 6 Nations Twitter Champions
With the omission of some key players, the official 6 Nations team of the tournament caused a stir in some rugby circles. The selection process comes through the championship's data partner Accenture. The figures dictate who gets picked, but does that tell us the whole story of the 6 Nations?
Here at Seven League, we have created our unofficial 6 Nations social media teams of the tournament. The players, picked using data gathered from our social monitoring tool Scout, earned their place through their performance on Twitter. Two teams have been created; one based on percentage growth and one on overall growth, with players selected if the best performing in their position. Both selections gave two different teams with only three players - England's Jonathan Joseph, Ireland's Robbie Henshaw and France's Thierry Dusautoir - making both.
Joseph and Henshaw exploded onto the international scene during this year’s tournament, and fast become key players for their respective sides. Their performance on the field has been reflected off the field with both nearly doubling their follower counts over the tournament. Try-scoring and man of match performances against Italy and England respectively saw their largest spikes in follower gains.
The percentage growth side is predominantly made up of players that are relatively new and less established in the international rugby arena. Some eye-catching performances from the likes of the French front-row have raised their profile to a wider rugby audience. The predominance of new French players is a testament to the French selection policy who have used more players since 2012 than any other top nation.
Scottish fly-half Finn Russell may have missed two games due to suspension but he still made our side with growth of 70%. A moment of controversy in the game against Wales, when he was sin-binned and later suspended for a dangerous tackle, saw Scottish fans create the #Finnocent campaign. Whilst the campaign fell on deaf ears, it saw Russell’s largest spike in followers during the tournament.
In comparison to the percentage growth team, the total growth team consists of established international players. Playing key roles within their teams players, Halfpenny and O'Connell are more inclined to be part of the Twitter conversation. Yet great performances definitely led to bigger follower numbers as no fewer than six of the total growth team are up for the player of the tournament award: Youngs, Ford, AWJ, O’Connell, Joseph and Henshaw.
The stars of the tournament, both in digital and rugby respects, are Henshaw and Joseph. The strength of their tournament showing has seen them place in both the percentage and overall growth teams. France's Dusautoir also keeps his place in both teams even without a stellar performance. The power of the captaincy and consistency shone through as the skipper saw a solid increase in following.
And now it's time for Seven League's Twitter player of the tournament. The 2015 RBS Player of the Tournament may be Paul O'Connell but he's not made the cut here. Our winner has featured in both teams and he was England's shining star: it's Jonathan Joseph. Following this exposure, further good performances for Bath, we expect great things from the promising Centre both on and off the field. He is definitely one to watch with the World Cup just on the horizon.