is a sport of attrition and power. It’s also a fast-paced game where tactics, intelligence and the ability to adapt the game plan to the conditions on the field make the difference between winning and losing. As with all great sporting codes, there are some players who are a cut above the rest. They are the men who have the innate ability to read the game as it unfolds, ensuring they are always one step ahead of their opponents.
In our estimation the best rugby
players of all time are not only those who have awesome match stats. They are the fighters and brawlers who have the X-factor; that natural ability to play an exciting brand of rugby so as to pull in the crowds… week in and week out.
Here’s our pick of the best rugby players of the current era:
Richie McCaw – New Zealand
Image Source: skysports.com
Stocky, powerful and always in the face of the opponents, Richie McCaw captained the All Blacks to two World Cup wins. The openside flanker was a maestro at turning the ball in the break down, leaving the opponents flat footed and unable to defend what would usually be a backline barrage to the line. His gritty defensive skills and contained aggression on the field made him one of the most dangerous and formidable players of the modern era. McCaw ended his illustrious career as the most capped player of all time.
Joost Van Der Westhuizen – South Africa
Image Source: bbc.com
Tall and lanky for a scrum half, Joost Van Der Westhuizen is best remembered for his sniping runs from the back of the scrum that almost always ended in a five-pointer. His never-say-die attitude meant he often delivered the killer blow just as the rest of the team was about to give up. The World Rugby Hall of Famer scored 38 tries for South Africa and was an integral member of the Springbok team that claimed the 1995 World Cup. His fearless tackles of the giant All Black winger, Jonah Lomu will forever be remembered by his legions of South African fans!
Jonny Wilkinson – England
Image Source: sport.bt.com
England and British and Irish Lions flyhalf, Jonny Wilkinson was a gifted playmaker and one of the most accurate goal kickers the world has ever seen. His propensity for slotting over drop goals at will took the wind out of the sails of many an opposing team, none more so than the Wallabies in 2003. In the final minute of extra time in the World Cup final a Wilkinson drop goal effectively snatched the cup away from the Australians. Wilkinson currently holds the record for the most points scored in the Rugby World Cup.
John Eales – Australia
Image Source: telegraph.co.uk
Tall, burly and omnipresent, John Eales will go down in history as one of the most successful lock forwards the game has ever produced. He dominated the line outs - winning balls with and against the throw - and despite his bulk, he had the uncanny ability to be everywhere at once. Eales captained the Wallabies during the golden era of Australian rugby and he currently holds the record for the highest-ever points tally for a forward in world rugby.
Daniel Carter – New Zealand
Image Source: theseasonticket.ie
Smart, cerebral and supremely talented, Dan Carter is arguably the greatest flyhalf of all time. During his tenure with the All Blacks he scored 1 598 points in 112 appearances, the highest ever points tally in international rugby. In addition to his accurate kicking and superior ability at marshalling the troops, Carter was feared for his powerful running and awesome defensive skills.
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