One of the most popular sports in the world, Rugby is played in more than 100 countries. Officially referred to as Rugby union, the sport is known by various other names such as Rugger, Rugby XV, Union and even Football. However, Rugby is the most widely used term to describe the sport. Rugby is said to have originated in the nineteenth century in England and from there it gradually spread to several other parts of the world. It is estimated that more than 6 million people globally play rugby and around 2.5 million are registered players. To better understand the contributions of greatest rugby players, here’s a quick overview of the top rugby legends of all time.
Zinzan Brooke: Former New Zealand rugby player, Zinzan Brooke is regarded amongst the greatest players in the sport. For his country, Brooke played a total of 58 test matches and scored 17 tries. He was also active at the national level, where he played for Auckland Blues. He was among the players that helped Auckland Blues dominate the National Provincial Championship in late 1980s and 1990s. Brooke’s key skills included his fast running and kicking, which made him most suitable to play as a forward. For his contributions to the game of rugby, Brooke was chosen as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1997.
Gareth Edwards: Regarded as potentially the greatest Welsh rugby player, Gareth Edwards played scrum-half for Welsh national team. He was among the contributors who helped Welsh to dominate European rugby during the 60s and 70s. Edwards was an outstanding athlete and excelled in running, kicking, passing and predicting the game plan of rival teams. His international career spanned 53 matches, wherein he scored a total of 88 points. In a poll conducted by Rugby World magazine in 2003, Edwards received the max votes for being the greatest player of all time. He was also featured in the list of “50 Greatest Rugby players”, which was published in The Telegraph in 2007.
Martin Johnson: Ranked amongst England’s greatest ever players, Martin Johnson captained England and Leicester and had a career spanning 16 seasons. Johnson helped England to win the Rugby World Cup in 2003. He played in 84 international games for England national team and 362 games for Leicester Tigers at the national level. During his career, he was part of teams that won Six Nations Championship (5 times), Grand Slam (2 times), Triple Crown (6 times) and World Cup in 2003. For Leicester, Johnson contributed to five Premiership wins, two consecutive Heineken Cup and two Pilkington Cup.
Carlos Spencer: Currently serving as the head coach of Eastern Province Kings, Carlos Spencer had represented New Zealand rugby team and played for Blues and Lions in Super Rugby. His preferred role was that of ‘fly-half’, but he also used to play as a fullback. Spencer was quite good at kicking and passing and he also had the ability to unlock the other team’s defense positions. In his international career, Spencer scored 291 points and earned 35 caps. In Super Rugby, his stats were 608 points in 96 caps.
Jonah Lomu: Former New Zealand rugby union player, Jonah Lomu holds the record of being the youngest All Black to play an international match. He achieved this feat in 1994 when he was just 19 years of age. His international career spanned 63 caps and 37 tries. His total score for New Zealand was 185 points. In Super Rugby, he played for Chiefs, Auckland Blues and Hurricanes. Owing to his significant contributions to the sport, Lomu was featured in International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2007. He also made it to IRB Hall of Fame in 2011.
David Campese: Former Australian rugby player, David Campese is known for his unparalleled skills as a winger and fullback. In his international career playing for The Wallabies (Australian national rugby team), he scored a total of 315 points in 101 caps. In his club career, he played for New South Wales, scoring 114 points and earned 56 caps. One of his best performances was in 1991 Rugby World Cup, where he was chosen as the player of the tournament. Campese is part of both Sport Australia Hall of Fame and Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame.
Michael Jones: Referred to as “perfect rugby player” by his coach, Michael Jones played for New Zealand national rugby team All Black. He played as a Flanker and scored 56 points and earned 55 caps in his international career. Jones followed an aggressive approach to the game, due to which he often got injured. As he can often be seen using icepacks for his injuries, he got the nickname of ‘The Iceman’. Jones was chosen for International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2003.
Dan Carter: Regarded as one of the greatest rugby players, Dan Carter holds the record of highest points scorer in Test match. In his international career with All Blacks, he scored 1,442 points and earned 100 caps. In Super Rugby, he scored 1,581 points and earned 128 caps, playing for Crusaders. Carter helped his team win various tournaments including 2011 Rugby World Cup, six Tri-Nations and Rugby Championships and four Super Rugby titles.
Brian O’Driscoll: Regarded as one of the best outside center in the sport, Brian O’Driscoll is a former Irish professional rugby union player. He was the captain of Ireland’s national rugby team for 10 years, from 2003 to 2012. He holds the record of the highest try scorer in the history or Irish Rugby. In international rugby, he is the eighth highest try scorer.
Richie McCaw: Former New Zealand rugby union player, Richie McCaw holds the record of most capped test rugby player (148 caps) of all time. He captained All Blacks in 110 test matches and led his team to victory in two Rugby World Cups in 2011 and 2015. His preferred position was that of an openside flanker, even though he also used to play as number eight and blindside flanker in domestic rugby. McCaw was chosen as world rugby player of the year in 2006, 2009 and 2010. He was chosen for World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2019.