Best Rugby Player of All Time

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Written By Hutch

Every sport has players who have attained incredible height by defying all odds, and rugby is no exception. Every player plays their role for the success of the team, but there are players whose impact can’t be ignored.

Rugby is a prominent sport that requires a blend of intellect and strength. Several countries around the world participate in rugby tournaments. The likes of South Africa, New Zealand, Wales, and many more have beautified the game more.

We’ll reveal the best players to ever grace the rugby game. Note that this is based on our rating.

Let’s go.

List of the top 10 Rugby Player of All Time

01. Richie McCaw

Let’s talk about the legacy of a two-time World Cup-winning captain, who clinched victories in 2011 and 2015 and actively participated in the 2003 and 2007 editions. Honored as the world’s best rugby player of the year in 2006, 2009, and 2010.

A master of breakdowns, a superlative athlete, and an inspirational leader, McCaw possessed a unique skill set. His ability to influence referees played a pivotal role, enhancing his impact on the game. His incredible legacy is solidified by holding the record for the most capped test rugby player of all time.

02. Dan Carter

Carter’s trophy cabinet boasts six Tri-Nations and Rugby Championships victories with the All Blacks, coupled with four Super Rugby titles achieved with the Crusaders. A pivotal moment in his career came in 2011 when he led the national team to triumph in the Rugby World Cup.

His achievements include: 

  • Being awarded by the International Rugby Board for best rugby player in 2005 and 2012. 
  • Carter earned the title of Super Rugby Player of the Year twice, in 2004 and 2006, as recognized by Rebel Sport. 

03. Michael Jones

Playing as a Flanker for the New Zealand All Blacks, he secured 55 caps and scored 56 points. His outstanding contributions led to him being voted as the third-best All-Black to ever play in the 20th century by Rugby World Magazine.

In recognition of his impact, the International Rugby Hall of Fame honored Jones in 2003. 

04. Brian O’Driscoll

A prominent figure in Irish rugby, O’Driscoll led Ireland’s national team from 2003 to 2012. He also captained the Irish and British Lions during their 2005 campaign in New Zealand.

O’Driscoll left his international legacy with 141 test matches for Ireland, where he led the team 83 times, and he also made eight appearances for the British and Irish Lions. His record as the most-capped player in Irish rugby union still stands.

05. David Campese

With an outstanding career, he has 101 caps for the Australian national rugby team, having a total of 315 points. Additionally, he contributed to New South Wales in his club career, securing 56 caps and earning 114 points.

In recognition of his impact on the sport, the 2013 IRB Hall of Fame and the Sport Australia Hall of Fame honored him in 1997. Further, his impact on Australian rugby earned him a place in the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame in 2007. 

06. Jonah Lomu

From 1994 to 2002, Lomu had 63 caps and scored 185 points for the great New Zealand All Blacks. His impact extended to the Super Rugby arena, where he played for three local teams: Auckland Blues, Hurricanes, and Chiefs.

Lomu’s legacy includes holding the record for the Rugby World Cup all-time top try-scorer, reaching an impressive 15 tries. Despite his performances, notably in the 1995 World Cup, he faced the unfortunate reality of never winning a World Cup during his entire career. 

07. Martin Johnson

As captain of the England national team, Johnson achieved a historic victory in the 2003 World Cup. Additionally, he holds the distinction of being the only individual to lead the British and Irish Lions on two different campaigns.

He made a great impact on his club team, the Leicester Tigers, where he led them to victory in the league six times and secured consecutive triumphs in the Heineken Cup. In his international spell, Johnson earned 84 caps for England, contributing 10 points to the team.

08. Jonny Wilkinson

Wilkinson earned 91 caps for England, witnessing victory in 61 of those matches. Notably, he holds the record for the most Rugby World Cup points with a tally of 277. 

His historical moment came during the 2003 World Cup final against Australia, the moment he scored the winning goal during the last minute of extra time. This iconic moment has etched Wilkinson’s name in rugby history, and his legacy is synonymous with excellent performances on the grandest stages.

09. Gareth Edwards 

Edwards’s career spanned 53 matches for Wales’s national team from 1967 to 1978, earning 88 points. Additionally, he contributed to the British Lions, playing ten matches and scoring 3 points. His club career saw him spend 12 seasons with Cardiff RFC, where he scored an impressive 69 tries in 195 games.

In a Rugby World magazine poll, voters chose Gareth Edwards as the greatest rugby player of all time.The recognition continued with his name as the greatest ever in the “50 Greatest Rugby Players” list written by former English player Will Carling in 2007. 

10. Zinzan Brooke 

As captain of the Auckland Blues, he led them to victory in the Super 12 championships in both 1996 and 1997, showcasing his leadership and skill. Brooke’s international career with the All Blacks saw him earn 58 caps and contribute 89 points, along with participating in 42 non-international matches for the All Blacks.

He was recognized as the eighth greatest player of all time on the list of “50 Greatest Rugby players,” compiled by The Telegraph in 2007. 


1. Did Jonah Lomu win a World Cup?

Unfortunately, Jonah never lifted the World Cup trophy despite being one of the greatest performers in the tournament. Attaining legendary status for his historical performances, the great Jonah was part of the ’95 and ’96 teams that experienced unsuccessful campaigns.

2. Are All Blacks the Best Rugby Team Ever?

Yes, the All Blacks are the best team to ever grace rugby international men’s game. They have an all-time winning percentage of 77.12% from 1903 to 2021.

3. What is the heaviest defeat in Rugby World Cup history?

The heaviest defeat ever recorded was Namibia’s 142-0 loss to Australia during the 2003 World Cup.

Final Thought

Both Jonah Lomu’s and Richie McCaw’s successes are testament to the fact that rugby is beyond being merely a game. It shows passion, commitment, and the creation of a lasting legacy. The skills and accomplishments of these rugby players have not only elevated the sport but have also been a motivation for younger players.

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