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Ever wondered who dominates the scrum and sprints past the try-line in rugby union?

From bone-crushing tackles to majestic drop goals, these 15 warriors have left an indelible mark on the sport.

Are you ready to dive into the tales of the ultimate ruggers who owned the pitch?

Best Rugby Players:

  1. Jonah Lomu
  2. Richie McCaw
  3. Martin Johnson
  4. Brian O’Driscoll
  5. Dan Carter
  6. John Eales
  7. Gareth Edwards
  8. SΓ©bastien Chabal
  9. Willie John McBride
  10. Joost van der Westhuizen
  11. Serge Blanco
  12. David Campese
  13. Michael Jones
  14. Jason Leonard
  15. George Gregan

#1 Jonah Lomu

  • 🌍 Nationality: New Zealander
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: May 12, 1975
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Wing
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Youngest ever All Black, 1995 and 1999 Rugby World Cups, Inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame

Nicknamed “The Beast,” Jonah Lomu was revered for his remarkable speed and power, which defied the conventions of wing play. At 6ft 5in and 120kg (265 lbs), he combined the physique of a forward with the speed of a back, making him a formidable opponent on the field.

Lomu’s impact on rugby was profound, not only in transforming the winger role but also in helping to take the sport to new global audiences, especially with his performances at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. His career, however, was beset by health challenges, including a serious kidney disorder that required a transplant. Despite this, Lomu’s legacy lives on, inspiring countless wingers who followed. He was actively involved in charity work, particularly with UNICEF, and his untimely death in 2015 was mourned worldwide.

#2 Richie McCaw

  • 🌍 Nationality: New Zealander
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: December 31, 1980
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Openside Flanker
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Two-time Rugby World Cup winner (2011, 2015), Three-time World Rugby Player of the Year, Most capped test rugby player of all time

Richie McCaw, also known as “Captain Fantastic,” excelled in his leadership qualities and breakdown skills. His unrivaled tactical intelligence made him a master at winning turnovers and disrupting opposition play. McCaw’s durability and resilience were also central to his prolific career.

Regarded as one of the greatest rugby union players ever, McCaw was the first All Black to reach 100 caps and the first rugby player to captain 100 tests. His tenacity on the field was matched by his humility off it. He is involved in numerous charitable activities and even served as a helicopter pilot in his post-rugby career. McCaw’s influence extends beyond rugby, encapsulated in his autobiography and a documentary that covers his storied career and personal life.

#3 Martin Johnson

  • 🌍 Nationality: English
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: March 9, 1970
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Lock
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Rugby World Cup winner (2003), two Grand Slams with England, twice British and Irish Lions captain

Known as “Johnno,” Martin Johnson was recognized for his exceptional leadership and physical presence on the pitch. As a lock, his powerful lineout and mauling abilities were key components of his success, augmented by his mental toughness and competitive spirit.

Johnson captained the England team that won the 2003 Rugby World Cup, a crowning achievement that solidified his place in rugby history. His transition into coaching after retirement further demonstrated his rugby acumen. Off the field, Johnson is known for his charity work, particularly supporting children and young people. Despite controversies during his captaincy and coaching tenures, Johnson’s impact on the sport and contributions to his community are celebrated.

#4 Brian O’Driscoll

  • 🌍 Nationality: Irish
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: January 21, 1979
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Centre
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: All-time highest try scorer for Ireland, Four-time British and Irish Lions tourist, 2009 Grand Slam winner

Brian O’Driscoll, affectionately known as “BOD,” stood out for his remarkable skill set including quick footwork, deft passing, and a strong defensive game. His abilities to read the game and create opportunities made him one of the most influential centers in rugby history.

During his career, O’Driscoll set numerous records and captained Ireland to their first Grand Slam in 61 years. His legacy is highlighted by his sportsmanship and his capacity to inspire teammates and fans alike. Away from rugby, Brian is a respected rugby analyst and commentator who continues to contribute to the game. His various media roles and charity work, especially with children’s hospitals, underscore his continuing impact off the pitch.

#5 Dan Carter

  • 🌍 Nationality: New Zealander
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: March 5, 1982
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Fly-Half
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Two-time Rugby World Cup winner (2011, 2015), Three-time World Rugby Player of the Year, Highest point scorer in Test rugby history

Dan Carter, known as “DC,” is celebrated for his exceptional game management, accurate goal-kicking, and creative playmaking abilities. His fly-half play was characterized by composure under pressure and an innate understanding of space and timing.

Carter’s storied career includes leading the All Blacks to two World Cup victories and accumulating numerous individual accolades, establishing him as one of the game’s all-time greats. His resilience was tested by injuries, particularly during the 2011 World Cup, but he returned to peak form impressively. Off the field, he is involved in various charitable initiatives and is an ambassador for UNICEF. Carter’s commitment to philanthropy and his business ventures, including his own brand, extend his influence beyond the sporting arena.

#6 John Eales

  • 🌍 Nationality: Australian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: June 27, 1970
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Lock
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Two-time Rugby World Cup winner (1991, 1999), Bledisloe and Tri-Nations successes, Inducted into the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame

John Eales, also known as “Nobody” (because nobody’s perfect), was renowned for his lineout acumen and surprising goal-kicking ability for a lock. This all-around skill set made him one of the most versatile forwards in the game’s history.

Eales’s leadership was instrumental in guiding the Australian national team to significant victories, including two World Cup wins. He is remembered not only as an exceptional player but also as a gentleman of the sport, respected for his conduct on and off the field. After retiring, he remained influential through writing, public speaking, and business, as well as his contributions to charity, particularly in support of children’s health and education.

#7 Gareth Edwards

  • 🌍 Nationality: Welsh
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: July 12, 1947
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Scrum-Half
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 53 consecutive caps for Wales, three Grand Slams with Wales, scored “the greatest try ever scored” in 1973

Widely regarded as one of the greatest scrum-halves in rugby history, Gareth Edwards’s dynamic playing style combined speed, strength, and a strategic mind. His exceptional ability to read the game made him a master of the scrum-half role.

Edwards’s storied career includes unforgettable moments, like the match for the Barbarians against New Zealand in 1973, where he scored what many consider the greatest try ever. His legacy extends beyond the field, having been an inspiration for generations of players. Following his retirement, Edwards has been a respected voice in rugby media and involved in various charitable endeavors, particularly around health and education.

#8 SΓ©bastien Chabal

  • 🌍 Nationality: French
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: December 8, 1977
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Number 8 / Lock
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: French Elite Championship winner with Sale Sharks, iconic figure in the 2007 Rugby World Cup

SΓ©bastien Chabal, also known as “The Caveman” for his rugged appearance, was known for his physicality and aggression on the pitch. His powerful ball-carrying and ability to disrupt opposition lineouts were hallmarks of his game.

Despite controversies, including on-field altercations and outspoken comments, Chabal’s charisma and distinctive look made him a cult figure in rugby, transcending the sport and becoming a popular public personality in France. Beyond rugby, he is involved in various business ventures, and his efforts in community work have marked him as more than just a rugby player. His autobiography offers insight into his life and rugby career.

#9 Willie John McBride

  • 🌍 Nationality: Irish
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: June 6, 1940
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Lock
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Captained the British and Irish Lions to a series victory in 1974, 17 Lions Test caps, 63 caps for Ireland

Willie John McBride is a towering figure in rugby union history, best known for his leadership of the British and Irish Lions during their unbeaten tour of South Africa in 1974. His no-nonsense approach and command in the line-out became a trademark of his playing style.

McBride’s contribution to rugby extended beyond his playing days, with his involvement in coaching and administration. His ethos of sportsmanship and leadership continues to inspire players. Off the pitch, he has been recognized for his services to rugby, reflecting the esteem with which he is held within the sport and the wider community.

#10 Joost van der Westhuizen

  • 🌍 Nationality: South African
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: February 20, 1971
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Scrum-half
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 1995 Rugby World Cup winner, 89 caps for South Africa, 38 international tries

Joost van der Westhuizen was celebrated for his exceptional speed, competitive spirit, and tenacious defensive work. As one of the premier scrum-halves of his era, he played a key role in South Africa’s 1995 World Cup triumph.

Off the field, van der Westhuizen showed great courage in his battle with motor neuron disease, raising awareness and funds for the condition through the J9 Foundation. His legacy as a rugby icon is matched by his dedication to making a difference in the lives of others, demonstrating his resilience and empathy.

#11 Serge Blanco

  • 🌍 Nationality: French
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 31, 1958
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Fullback
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Five Nations Grand Slam (1981, 1987), 93 caps for France, 38 international tries

Serge Blanco, known for his flair and attacking prowess, is considered one of the greatest fullbacks in rugby history. His counter-attacking skills and ability to create something out of nothing were hallmarks of his playing style.

Blanco’s influence in rugby continued after his playing career, taking on key leadership roles in French rugby administration. His passion for the game has had a lasting impact on French rugby, while his contributions to the sport’s governance reflect his commitment to its growth and development.

#12 David Campese

  • 🌍 Nationality: Australian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: October 21, 1962
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Wing / Fullback
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 1991 Rugby World Cup winner, 101 caps for Australia, 64 international tries

David Campese, nicknamed “Campo,” was renowned for his signature goose step and unpredictable playing style, which left opponents and spectators alike in awe. His flamboyant approach to the game made him a standout player during his era.

Aside from his on-field achievements, Campese has been a vocal commentator on the sport, often sharing his forthright views on rugby’s evolution. His contributions to rugby culture and his willingness to speak his mind have made him a memorable personality in the rugby community.

#13 Michael Jones

  • 🌍 Nationality: New Zealand
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: April 8, 1965
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Flanker / Number 8
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 1987 Rugby World Cup winner, 55 caps for New Zealand, considered one of the best open-side flankers of all time

Michael Jones was a pioneering figure in the evolution of the flanker role, blending speed, agility, and technical prowess with an exceptional rugby intellect. His commitment to his religious faith, which included not playing on Sundays, was respected throughout his career.

After retiring, Jones’ influence persisted as he transitioned into coaching and mentorship roles, focusing on nurturing the next generation of players. His legacy within the sport of rugby is significant, with his name often mentioned among the game’s all-time greats.

#14 Jason Leonard

  • 🌍 Nationality: English
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 14, 1968
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Prop
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 2003 Rugby World Cup winner, 114 caps for England, 5 caps for the British and Irish Lions

Jason Leonard, affectionately known as “The Fun Bus,” was admired for his durability and strength in the front row. His long and distinguished career includes a World Cup title with England and multiple British and Irish Lions tours, becoming one of rugby’s most-capped players.

Leonard’s influence continued post-retirement with his charity work and contributions to rugby’s administration. His leadership off the field embodies the spirit of the game, reflecting his commitment to promoting rugby union and supporting charitable causes.

#15 George Gregan

  • 🌍 Nationality: Australian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: April 19, 1973
  • πŸ‰ Position/Role: Scrum-half
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 1999 Rugby World Cup winner, 139 caps for Australia, most-capped player in Wallabies history

George Gregan’s tactical acumen and competitive tenacity made him one of the outstanding scrum-halves of his generation. His defensive tackles and consistent service were integral to Australia’s World Cup victory in 1999 and throughout his career.

Beyond rugby, Gregan’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to success in the hospitality industry and his philanthropic efforts through the George Gregan Foundation, which supports children with neurological disorders. His drive and dedication extend beyond the rugby field, as does his legacy as a player and as a contributor to society.

After celebrating the legends, dive into the literature that captures the essence of rugby through the best rugby books.

FAQ

Who is the best Rugby player of all time?

Jonah Lomu is considered by many as the best Rugby player of all time. Here’s a link to our article on why we think Jonah Lomu is the best Rugby player of all time. His remarkable blend of size, speed, and power revolutionized the winger position.

Who are the top 10 greatest Rugby players of all time?

Jonah Lomu, Richie McCaw, Martin Johnson, Brian O’Driscoll, Dan Carter, John Eales, Gareth Edwards, SΓ©bastien Chabal, Willie John McBride, and Joost van der Westhuizen are the top 10 greatest Rugby players of all time. These icons have left a profound impact on the game with their exceptional talents and achievements.

Who is the most famous female Rugby player?

Portia Woodman is the most famous female Rugby player. A standout for the New Zealand women’s national Rugby sevens team, she has earned recognition for her speed and scoring prowess, becoming a leading figure in the sport.

Meet Rev, one of our dedicated team members who embodies the essence of sports passion. When he’s not immersed in the world of sports content creation, Rev is busy honing his skills in esports and exploring the great outdoors through activities like hiking and basketball.

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