Debating with your friends who’s the best Rugby coach?
Graham Henry, Clive Woodward, or Ian McGeechan?
Here is our list of the best Rugby coaches of all time.
Do you agree with our picks?
Best Rugby Coaches:
- Graham Henry
- Clive Woodward
- Ian McGeechan
- Steve Hansen
- Kitch Christie
Table of Contents
#1 Graham Henry
- 🏆 Achievements: Rugby World Cup 2011, British and Irish Lions series win
- 📅 Years Active: 1987–2011
- 👕 Teams Coached: Auckland, Wales, British & Irish Lions, New Zealand
- 🌐 Nationality: New Zealander
Graham Henry, revered in rugby circles, was at the helm of the All Blacks as they secured World Cup glory in 2011. His tenure with New Zealand from 2004 to 2011 was marked by an astounding win record, cementing his legacy as one of the greats in the sport’s coaching history.
Prior to his momentous World Cup triumph, Henry had a mixed experience coaching the British and Irish Lions on their 2001 tour to Australia and tackling the challenging role of leading Wales between 1998 and 2002.
Henry’s coaching philosophy was built on meticulous preparation and fostering a team environment that valued mental strength as much as physical prowess, a mindset that would permeate throughout his teams and lead them to many victories under his guidance.
#2 Clive Woodward
- 🏆 Achievements: Rugby World Cup 2003, Six Nations Grand Slam
- 📅 Years Active: 1990–2004
- 👕 Teams Coached: England, British & Irish Lions
- 🌐 Nationality: English
Clive Woodward is best known for leading the England rugby team to its first and only Rugby World Cup victory in 2003. This crowning achievement was the result of his tenure as head coach beginning in 1997, during which time England also achieved multiple Six Nations championships, including a Grand Slam in 2003.
Woodward brought a new level of professionalism to English rugby, utilizing the latest techniques and technologies in training and preparation, as well as fostering a strong team ethos within his squad.
Post-2003 World Cup, Woodward took charge of the British and Irish Lions for their 2005 tour to New Zealand. Despite a series loss, his influence on northern hemisphere rugby remains significant, and he is recognized as having paved the way for future coaching methodologies.
#3 Ian McGeechan
- 🏆 Achievements: Grand Slams with Scotland, multiple Lions tour victories
- 📅 Years Active: 1986–2010
- 👕 Teams Coached: Scotland, Northampton Saints, British & Irish Lions, Wasps
- 🌐 Nationality: Scottish
Ian McGeechan is celebrated for his outstanding contributions to British and Irish Lions tours as well as his success with the Scotland national team. He led Scotland to a Grand Slam in the 1990 Five Nations Championship, a feat that remains one of the country’s finest rugby achievements.
His association with the Lions is legendary, having coached them on several tours, with the 1997 series victory in South Africa standing out as a highlight of his career.
McGeechan’s coaching philosophy centered around understanding the players and inspiring them to perform to their best abilities, a skill that earned him great respect and results throughout his coaching career.
#4 Steve Hansen
- 🏆 Achievements: Rugby World Cup 2015, 2011 (as assistant coach), multiple Rugby Championship titles
- 📅 Years Active: 1996–2019
- 👕 Teams Coached: Canterbury, Crusaders (asst.), Wales, New Zealand
- 🌐 Nationality: New Zealander
Steve Hansen served as the head coach of the All Blacks, taking over from Graham Henry after the 2011 Rugby World Cup victory and leading the team to back-to-back triumphs with another win in 2015. His coaching tenure with the national team is marked by an impressive win percentage and dominance in the Rugby Championship.
Before ascending to the head coach role, Hansen had significant coaching success in New Zealand domestic rugby and served as an assistant coach for both the All Blacks and Wales, gathering a wealth of international coaching experience.
His coaching approach was characterized by his adaptability and his focus on maintaining the All Blacks’ strong team culture, which facilitated the continuation of their rugby dominance on the world stage.
#5 Kitch Christie
- 🏆 Achievements: Rugby World Cup 1995
- 📅 Years Active: Early 1980s–1996
- 👕 Teams Coached: Transvaal, South Africa
- 🌐 Nationality: South African
Kitch Christie is etched into the rugby annals for guiding the South African national team, the Springboks, to an iconic Rugby World Cup victory on home soil in 1995. This event was a historic milestone for both rugby and the nation itself, in the context of post-apartheid South Africa.
Christie’s coaching tenure with the Springboks was brief but remarkably successful, with an undefeated record that boasted a perfect streak of international match victories until his retirement due to health reasons.
His coaching style was underpinned by a strong work ethic and motivational skills, which were critical in galvanizing a team that became a symbol of unity during a transformative era in South African history.
Who is the greatest Rugby coach of all time?
Sir Graham Henry is often considered the greatest Rugby coach for leading the All Blacks to 88 wins in 103 tests and a World Cup triumph in 2011.
Who was the most successful Rugby coach?
Sir Graham Henry is the most successful Rugby coach, with a World Cup victory in 2011 and a remarkable 85% winning record as the New Zealand All Blacks coach.