Rugby, as a sport, originated from football, typically modified and developed during the late 19th century. The game requires a lot of strength and power and therefore, Rugby players need to be at the peak of their physical strength; they push their bodies to the limit in every match.

What makes Rugby players great? Is it their talent and ability on the pitch or the experience that they bring to the game? Talent and ability are prerequisites but leadership and respect towards the team are equally important. DSPORT, considering all these factors, has picked up the 10 greatest rugby players of the professional era.

Here’s the list of top 10 Rugby players of the professional era.

Brain O’ Driscoll (Ireland)

Brain O’ Driscoll

Brian O’Driscoll introduced himself to the world by scoring a magical hat-trick against France in 2000. An Irish former professional rugby union player, Driscoll captained Ireland from 2003 until 2012. He is regarded as one of the greatest rugby union players of all time. Brain holds the Six Nations record for most tries with 26 and was chosen Player of the Tournament in 2006, 2007 and 2009.


  • Nominated for the IRB World Player of the Year (2001, 2002, 2009),
  • Player of the Tournament in the 2006, 2007 and 2009
  • Tenth greatest player of all time (The Daily Telegraph)
  • Dubliner of the Year Award (The Dubliner)

Richie McCaw (New Zealand)

Richie McCaw

A rugby genius and a monumental leader, Richie McCaw is New Zealand’s former rugby union player. Richie is generally recognized as the world’s best open side flanker. He captained the national team, the All Blacks, in 110 out of his 148 test matches, and earned a world-record of 148 caps for the All Blacks along with the two Rugby World Cups. This monumental leader is the most capped test rugby player of all time, and has won the World Rugby player of the year award a joint record of three times.


  • First rugby union player to achieve 100 caps as captain.
  • Captained New Zealand for the 100th time on 22 November 2014

Dan Carter (New Zealand)

Dan Carter

A prolific goal-kicker, a wonderful silky runner and a master controller, Dan Carter is hands down the greatest player of the professional era. 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.


  • Kelvin Tremain Memorial Trophy (NZ Player of the Year) 2004 and 2005
  • All Time International Rugby Leading Point Scorer
  • Laureus World Sports Award for Comeback of the Year 2016

Jonah Lomu (New Zealand)

Jonah Lomu

Jonah Tali Lomu was a New Zealand rugby union player. He played his first international in 1994 at the age of 19 years and is regarded as the first true global superstar of rugby. Lomu was diagnosed with a serious kidney disorder in 1995 and retired from professional rugby in 2007. He died unexpectedly on 18 November 2015 after suffering a heart attack associated to his devastating kidney disease.

Undoubtedly, Lomu is solely responsible for the growth of rugby on the world stage. A true giant among the men.


  • BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year in 1995

Keith Wood (Ireland)

Keith Wood

A phenomenal player and persuasive leader on the pitch, Keith Wood is a former international rugby union footballer. Wood made his international debut in 1994 against Australia. He was capped 58 times for Ireland and five times for the Lions.  Wood retired from playing after the 2003 Rugby World Cup.


  • Keith Wood currently holds a world record of 15 full international test tries scored by a hooker

Tim Horan (Australia)

Tim Horan

Tim Horan, the former Australian Rugby Union Footballer, was considered one of the finest players in the world because of his possessed pace, balance, great ball skills and courage. He made his Test debut for Australia against New Zealand in 1989.


  • Inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame and Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame in 2015.

Shane Williams (Wales)

Shane Williams

Shane Mark Williams is a rugby union player and Wales’ most capped winger. He is famous for his special and unique talent which the sports world will cherish forever. Shane has impressed fans and players since his international debut at the age of 21.The Welsh magician racked up an amazing 58 tries in 87 games for Wales, terrorizing many a defense along the way. Shane Williams is surely one of the best wingers in the World Rugby, and one of the best Welsh rugby players of all time.


  • Named World Player of the year in 2008
  • Fourth on the international list of leading rugby union test try scorers

Paul O’ Connell (Ireland)

Paul O’ Connell

Paul Jeremiah O’Connell is a retired Irish rugby union player. Known for his exceptional leadership skills both on and off pitch, Paul is one of the most respected men in the history of world rugby. He is Ireland’s third most-capped player (108) and the joint-12th most-capped international player in rugby union history.


  • 2-time winner of the Heineken Cup
  • Ireland’s third most-capped player
  • Joint-12thmost-capped international player
  • 3 time winner of the Six Nations Championship

Martin Johnson (England)

Martin Johnson

Martin Osborne Johnson is an English former rugby union player who represented and captained England and Leicester. One of the England’s greatest player, Martin is famous for his leadership qualities and for leading England to victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

 George Gregan (Australia)

George Gregan

George Musarurwa Gregan is a retired Australian rugby union player. He made his first appearance for the Wallabies in 1994 in a match against Italy in Brisbane and is currently Australia’s highest capped player, internationally.


  • Inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2009
  • Inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2013

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