Rugby legends and thousands of fans choose the all-time greatest Rugby World Cup squad
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Best of the best.
According to a number of experts, legends of the game, and fans of rugby news platform, RugbyPass, the all-time greats Rugby World Cup squad would predominantly be All Blacks and Springboks.
To coincide with the current tournament, RugbyPass created its Rugby World Cup Ultimate XV player picker, which features curated lists of notable individuals across each position, who have represented their country in previous tournaments. RugbyPass then asked its 80,000+ strong fanbase – and a selection of former players and pundits – to make their selections from its picker and help determine exactly which 15 players would make it into an all-time greats squad.
Overall, the picks were dominated by players from the Southern Hemisphere (94%) and in particular those from nations who have lifted the Webb Ellis Cup on multiple occasions (80% of the team has won at least one Rugby World Cup).
The data has also shown there have been a number of runaway winners in certain positions, with some players taking a sizeable majority of each respective vote.
- Loosehead Prop – Os du Randt, South Africa – 34% of the vote
- Hooker – Sean Fitzpatrick, New Zealand – 24% of the vote
- Tighthead Prop – Owen Franks, New Zealand – 30% of the vote
- Lock – Eben Etzebeth, South Africa – 41% of the vote
- Lock – Victor Matfield, South Africa – 25% of the vote
- Blindside Flanker – Jerome Kaino, New Zealand – 23% of the vote
- Number 8 – Kieran Read, New Zealand – 40% of the vote
- Openside Flanker – Richie McCaw, New Zealand – 72% of the vote
- Scrum Half – Aaron Smith, New Zealand – 37% of the vote
- Fly Half – Dan Carter, New Zealand – 73% of the vote
- Inside Centre – Ma’a Nonu, New Zealand – 56% of the vote
- Outside Centre – Brian O’Driscoll, Ireland – 60% of the vote
- Right Wing – David Campese, Australia – 36% of the vote
- Left Wing – Jonah Lomu, New Zealand – 59% of the vote
- Fullback – Christian Cullen, New Zealand – 28% of the vote
The best XV is predominantly made up of All Blacks (67%) and Springboks (20%), with the majority of the second and third-choice players also being from these teams. Disappointingly, only one England and one Wales player featured in a top-three selection for any of the positions, specifically Jonny Wilkinson at Fly Half and George North at Right Wing.
All Blacks legend, Andrew Mehrtens, also made his picks and largely agreed with the fans’ selections:
“Os picks himself here [Loosehead Prop] for me, I mean to win two Rugby World Cups twelve years apart is amazing, and in ‘95 in particular, he was an absolute beast,” he said.
“They built the team around him because he’s an extraordinary player.
“When you come from a country that reveres Richie McCaw so much, I’d be arrested if I didn’t choose him [for Openside Flanker]. [Dan Carter]’s another ‘GOAT’ to many fans of the sport and to me he was the complete Fly Half. Not even a close second here.”
Similarly, Springboks legend, and 2007 Rugby World Cup winner, Bobby Skinstad, picked a number of All Blacks for his XV:
“[For Left Wing] it’s not a hard choice, I’m going for the big fella, Jonah Lomu,” Skinstad said.
He meant so much to me and many others and he was a guy you’d always want on your team. In his day, he was truly special.
“[For Fly Half] To me Dan Carter epitomises everything about this position. He was the first guy who could kick and run and tackle and defend and just do everything else while being a thoroughly good leader and a good example to everyone else.”
In addition to picking all-time greatest players, the fans and experts were also asked to pick who they think the top coach and referee has been from Rugby World Cup history, plus which stadium is the definitive venue for playing tournament matches. This was the result:
- Coach – Rassie Erasmus, South Africa – 22% of the vote
- Referee – Nigel Owens, Wales – 58% of the vote
- Stadium – Twickenham, England – 27% of the vote
The rest of the findings from the Ultimate XV data are available here: https://www.rugbypass.com/rugby-world-cup/ultimate-xv-expert-picks/