Ranking: The Top 10 Greatest Rugby Players Of The Professional Era

This selection is sure to cause debate.

Ranking the top 10 greatest rugby players of the professional era, is by far one of the most difficult tasks we’ve ever undertaken. What defines a great rugby player? For us it’s not just about their talent and ability on the pitch, but what they bring to the game and more importantly- what they bring to a team.

Talent and ability are fantastic qualities, but leadership and respect are just as important in our eyes, hence why a number of players on this list are ranked so highly. Have a look at our list and let us know what you think of our selection.

Who would make it onto your top 10?


10. Paul O’Connell

The man, the myth, the legend. One of the most respected men in the history of world rugby, O’Connell was more than just a towering giant in the lineout and a tireless worker- he was a commander and leader, both on and off the pitch. If you were playing in a Paul O’Connell team, you best make sure you give 110%.

Wales' winger Shane Williams celebrates

9. Shane Williams

The 2008 IRB world player of the year, proved time and time again that size isn’t everything. The Welsh magician racked up an amazing 58 tries in 87 games for Wales, terrorising many a defence along the way. A special and unique talent that will forever be remembered for his blistering pace and phenomenal feet.


8. Johnny Wilkinson

Had Johnny Wilkinson’s career not been marred with injury, you can be damn sure he would have featured much higher on this list, as far as number one we reckon. The Englishman had all you could possibly want from a 10. An unbelievable rugby brain, one of the best placekicker’s the world has ever seen and the ability to carve any opponent in half when in defence.


7. Martin Johnson

Another man ranked so highly for more than just ability. While a fantastic player all the same, he will be forever remembered for his leadership qualities, demonstrating with England and the Lions that there was no better commander-in-chief than Martin Johnson.


6. Keith Wood

The 2001 IRB world player of the year re-defined what it meant to be a front row. Blistering pace, magical feet, all while being able to hit his man in the lineout and get down and dirty at the breakdown. A phenomenal player in his day and a fantastic rugby brain and leader on the pitch.


5. Sergio Parisse

Consistently over time the best eight in the world. Time and time again Parisse has proved whether it be in the Top 14 or with his national side. The Italian is nothing short of a machine, who also possesses wonderful technical ability and a phenomenal work rate.

New Zealand v Australia - Final: Rugby World Cup 2015

4. Dan Carter

The greatest outhalf of the professional era, hands down. After nearly retiring before the 2015 Rugby World Cup after a frustrating couple of seasons, Carter came back and showed the world what they were missing. He guided the All Blacks to a second successive World Cup and picked himself up a World Player of the Year award on the way. A wonderful talent, who’s arguably is still the best outhalf in the world right now.


3. Jonah Lomu

While Lomu burst onto the scene in 1995, before the professional era had begun, it was at the 1999 Rugby World Cup we saw the big man at his very best, scoring a record breaking 15 tries. Lomu somehow managed to come back time after time despite a debilitating kidney problem in a career that spanned from 1994-2010. Jonah Lomu is without doubt solely responsible for the growth of rugby on the world stage. A true giant among men.


2. Richie McCaw

A monumental leader and an awesome talent. Led the All Blacks to successive Rugby World Cup titles in 2011 and 2015. Like him or not, you cannot ignore his achievements and ability. A rugby genius of the highest accord.


1. Brian O’Driscoll

For us there can simply be only one man at the top of his list. When Brian O’Driscoll introduced himself to the world by scoring a magical hat-trick against France in 2000, we knew we were witnessing something special. Four Lions tours, 113 caps for Ireland and a multitude of awards and trophies later, Brian O’Driscoll has carved out a career second to none. It will be a long time, if ever, the world see’s a player quite like BOD again.

Follow Me