10. Zinzan Brooke (New Zealand)
Zinzan Brooke is widely regarded as one of the greatest rugby players of all time, particularly in the number eight position.
He played 58 tests for New Zealand and 42 non-international matches for the All Blacks, captaining the team on several occasions.
Brooke was known for his extraordinary ball skills, athleticism, and extremely competitive approach, which made him one of the most influential players in world rugby for more than a decade.
He scored 17 tries in test matches, then a world record for a forward, and was an influential figure in Auckland’s dominance in the National Provincial Championship during the late 1980s and 1990s.
Brooke captained Auckland Blues to Super 12 championships in 1996 and 1997, showcasing his leadership skills and impact on the game.
He was also a founding player of the Southerners Sports Club in Bangkok, playing in the inaugural side in 1994 against Taradale RFC.
Brooke’s unique mix of skill, strength, and subtlety was absolutely unique, and it is highly unlikely that there will ever again be a No 8 like him.
9. Sean Fitzpatrick (New Zealand)
Sean Fitzpatrick is a former New Zealand rugby union footballer who played as a hooker.
He had a distinguished career that spanned 15 years, earning 92 caps, 51 of them as captain, and an 82%-win rate.
Fitzpatrick’s leadership and skill were instrumental in the success of the New Zealand team.
Some highlights of his illustrious career include being awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit by the Governor General in 1997, and being named to Rugby World magazine’s Team of the Century in 1999. He has been serving as the chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy since 2016.
Fitzpatrick led the All Blacks to a series win over the touring British Lions in 1993 and captained New Zealand to the 1996 Rugby World Cup, where they achieved their first victory against Australia in 50 years.
Born into a family with a rich rugby tradition, Fitzpatrick’s father, Brian Fitzpatrick, was an All Black between 1951 and 1954.
This instilled in Sean the All Black tradition from a young age. Known for his strength, mobility, and exceptional handling skills, Sean Fitzpatrick ended his career with a total of 55 points in Test matches.
8. Bryan Habana (South Africa)
Bryan Habana is a South African former professional player who is widely considered to be one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. He played for the South Africa national team and won 124 caps.
He played for the South African national team, the Springboks, from 2004 to 2016, earning 124 caps and scoring 67 tries, which is the most by any South African player and the second-most in international rugby history.
Habana was a key member of the South African team that won the 2007 Rugby World Cup, scoring eight tries in the tournament, which equaled the record for a single tournament set by Jonah Lomu in 1999.
He was also named the IRB Player of the Year in 2007, becoming the fourth South African to receive the award.
Habana’s speed, agility, and finishing ability made him a formidable opponent for any team, and his impact on the game has solidified his legacy as one of the greatest rugby players of all time.
7. Sergio Parisse (Italy)
Sergio Parisse, a 40-year-old Italian rugby player, currently plays for Rugby Club Toulonnais in France as a back row.
Parisse holds the distinction of being Italy’s most-capped player and is currently the fourth most-capped player worldwide.
He was the first Italian rugby union player to be nominated for the IRB International Player of the Year, in 2008 and again in 2013.
His impact on the game extends beyond his impressive playing record. Parisse was the first Italian rugby union player to be nominated for the IRB International Player of the Year, receiving this honor in 2008 and again in 2013.
6. Gareth Edwards (Wales)
Gareth Edwards is a former Welsh rugby union footballer who played as a scrum-half.
He led Wales to win the Five Nations Championship 11 times in 16 seasons (1964–78) and was a key figure in the Welsh team’s dominance from the mid-’60s through the ’70s.
Edwards was named the greatest rugby player of all time by international players in a 2003 poll conducted by Rugby World magazine.
Between 1967 and 1978 Edwards played 53 Test (international) matches plus 10 Tests for the British Lions (now the British and Irish Lions).
Sir Gareth Edwards’ exceptional skills, strategic gameplay, and leadership made him a standout player in the history of rugby.
5. Jonny Wilkinson (England)
Jonny Wilkinson is renowned for his exceptional career and numerous accolades.
With 91 matches for his country and over 350 club appearances, Wilkinson’s impact on the sport is undeniable.
Wilkinson holds the current England record tally for points scored in World Cups and toured twice with the British & Irish Lions, earning a total of six caps.
Wilkinson’s influence extends beyond his playing record, as he has been described as “the most famous, most talented, most grounded” rugby player, driven by a relentless quest for improvement throughout his 17-year career.
His dedication to the sport and his remarkable achievements have firmly established him as one of the greatest rugby players of all time.
4. Martin Johnson (England)
Martin Johnson, a towering presence in the world of rugby, is widely regarded as one of the greatest locks and leaders in the history of the sport.
His illustrious career spanned 10 years from 1993 to 2003, during which he played 92 Tests (84 for England and eight for the Lions).
Johnson’s list of honors is impressive, including a World Cup title, five Six Nations championships, and a Lions series win as captain.
As a player, he was known for his physicality, exceptional lineout skills, and uncompromising leadership on the field.
Johnson’s impact on the game and his numerous accolades have firmly established him as one of the greatest rugby players of all time.
3. Dan Carter (New Zealand)
Dan Carter, a former New Zealand professional rugby union player, is widely regarded as one of the greatest fly-halves in the history of the sport.
He played 112 test matches for the All Blacks, scoring a total of 1,598 test points (29 tries, 293 conversions, 281 penalties, and 8 drop goals).
Carter’s list of accomplishments is extensive. He has won two Rugby World Cups and has been crowned the top international points scorer in Test rugby.
Furthermore, he holds the record for the most caps by a New Zealand fly-half.
In addition to his playing career, Carter is known for his charitable work and support of various causes, such as the DC10 fund, which he established in partnership with UNICEF to help children worldwide dream big and achieve their goals.
His impact on the game, numerous accolades, and lasting legacy have solidified his position as one of the greatest rugby players of all time.
2. Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
Richie McCaw, a retired New Zealand professional rugby union player, is widely regarded as one of the greatest flankers and leaders in the history of the sport.
He captained the New Zealand national team, the All Blacks, in 110 out of his 148 test matches, and won two Rugby World Cups.
McCaw’s list of honors and achievements is extensive. He won the World Rugby Player of the Year award a joint record three times.
From August 2015 to October 2020, he held the record for being the most capped test rugby player of all time.
Under his captaincy, the All Blacks achieved an unprecedented 89% win rate in test matches.
McCaw is known for his exceptional work rate, defensive prowess, and ability to influence games through his leadership and skill.
McCaw’s impact on the game, his numerous accolades, and his lasting legacy have firmly established him as one of the greatest rugby players of all time.
1. Jonah Lomu (New Zealand)
Jonah Lomu is widely regarded as one of the greatest wingers and greatest rugby player of all time.
He played 73 matches and scored 185 points (37 tries) during his illustrious career.
Lomu’s impact on the game and his lasting legacy are significant.
He made two Rugby World Cup appearances in 1995 and 1999, during which he scored 15 tries.
In fact, he holds the record for the most tries scored in a single Rugby World Cup, with 13 in 1999.
Lomu was rugby’s first truly global superstar and played a key role in the sport’s growth and popularity. He was known for his powerful runs and was an unstoppable force on the field, leaving a lasting legacy in rugby.