The first of our Rugby Union Top 10 collection, as we start by taking a look at 10 of England’s biggest performers.
Keep an eye fixed out over the subsequent few weeks as we take a look at 10 of the best players from the 10 main rugby-playing nations in the world: England, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, Wales, Australia, Scotland, Australia, France and Italy.
First up it is England – in no specific order…
Martin Johnson (84 caps, 1993-2003)
Still the solely man to captain England to Rugby World Cup glory. The Leicester Tigers second row developed into one in all the most talismanic figures in the sport, at membership and Test stage by his profession.
He turned England captain in 1999, and led the facet by to 2003 World Cup victory over Australia on Aussie soil – the World Cup last being his final worldwide look. He additionally received the Five/Six Nations title 5 instances (1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2003), two Grand Slams (1995, 2003) and 6 Triple Crowns.
Johnson additionally represented the British & Irish Lions on three excursions (1993, 1997, 2001) – the latter two as captain. In 2011, he was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame.
A monumental chief and the central character to the most profitable spell in English rugby historical past. At 6’7″, Johnson was additionally imposing, aggressive, highly effective, an astute set-piece operator and, crucially, an clever decision-maker in the white warmth of battle.
Jonny Wilkinson (91 caps, 1998-2011)
What a participant. If not for the accidents he suffered by his profession, Wilkinson would doubtless be extra extensively thought to be up there with the very best ever to have performed.
Like Johnson, the fly-half was a important cog to the most profitable interval England have skilled, profitable three Six Nations titles in 4 years between 2000 and 2003 – the latter as a Grand Slam – defeating each different nation in the world, together with New Zealand and Australia on their very own patches, and occurring to clinch the 2003 World Cup.
Following that match, Wilkinson struggled with a number of accidents, however returned to the Test fold to assist England attain the 2007 World Cup last.
He additionally represented the Lions on two excursions (2001, 2005) and, like Johnson, has been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame – Wilkinson in 2016.
Jeremy Guscott (65 caps, 1989-1999)
Played most of his England profession throughout the novice period, Guscott was a splendidly artistic and smooth-running centre.
Alongside enjoying, he labored as bricklayer, bus driver and for British Gas earlier than the sport turned skilled, however his means on the pitch nonetheless shone by, with World Cup winning-coach Sir Clive Woodward referring to him as the “Prince of Centres”.
He scored 30 tries from 65 Tests, and was pivotal as England achieved back-to-back Five Nations Grand Slams in 1991 and 1992, and was additionally a part of the facet that narrowly misplaced the 1991 World Cup last to Australia.
Perhaps he’s best remembered, although, for sealing the 1997 British & Irish Lions collection win over the world champion Springboks with a late second Test drop objective to win 18-15 and go 2-Zero forward.
He additionally performed for the Lions on two different excursions in 1989 and 1993, and is one other World Rugby Hall of Famer.
Richard Hill (71 caps, 1997-2008)
Regarded as the solely participant by no means to have been dropped by Clive Woodward, Hill was an exceptional performer in the back-row for England throughout a interval of unrivalled success.
Though not as famed or outspoken as a few of his team-mates, the Saracen had every thing and gelled inside a back-row unit alongside Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio to genuinely world class impact. Intelligent, skilful, highly effective, Hill virtually by no means misplaced a person battle on the pitch.
A 2003 Rugby World Cup winner, and British & Irish Lion in 1997, 2001 and 2005.
His mixture of gnarl and energy at the breakdown and in the tight, alongside along with his passing means in the free mark him out as a particular performer.
Rory Underwood (85 caps, 1984-1996)
England’s biggest ever attempt scorer, and by far. Wing Underwood notched 49 tries in 85 Test appearances for his nation – 18 greater than the subsequent most – and continues to be spoken about by followers as we speak.
He additionally represented the Lions on two excursions in 1989 and 1993 and stays the most capped England again in historical past. His longevity, having performed at three World Cups, units him other than most.
Possessed with speedy tempo and a scientific finisher, Underwood goes down as one in all the best in an England jersey.
Will Greenwood (55 caps, 1997-2004)
Sky Sports Rugby’s very personal – what a sensational profession Greenwood had in the centre for England.
A mainstay throughout the profitable years underneath Woodward, he notched some 31 tries in 55 caps and was key in Six Nations titles, Grand Slams, Triple Crowns and the 2003 World Cup victory.
Greenwood was additionally a British & Irish Lion on three excursions in 1997, 2001, and 2005. An excellent attacking presence and tactically astute too. At 6’4″, Greenwood was a unique kind of centre for opposition defences to take care of, and when England had been of their pomp, he thrived.
Lawrence Dallaglio (85 caps, 1995-2007)
Up their with Johnson as one in all the most talismanic England players to have worn the shirt, and one in all the principal leaders on their highway to 2003 Rugby World Cup success.
Hugely highly effective and athletic with and with out the ball, the No eight was typically England’s emotional beat on a few of their biggest days. Pacey, aggressive and skilful too, the Wasps man simply goes up there as one in all the best.
He can be one in all only a few players in the sport to have received each a Rugby World Cup and Sevens World Cup.
Jason Robinson (51 caps, 2001-2007)
Less caps than the relaxation on this checklist he might have, however that’s solely as a result of Robinson transformed from rugby league halfway by his skilled profession. What a novel expertise he was.
His introduction into the England squad in 2001 was a revelation – and that for a workforce with an already exceedingly robust and dominant ahead pack.
Arguably, there has not been a participant with the flip of velocity and agility that Robinson possessed both earlier than him, or since. Searingly fast, fast-footed, a superb runner and able to close to inexplicable acceleration too.
Robinson scored 28 tries in 51 Tests, together with one in the victorious 2003 World Cup last, whereas he turned a British & Irish Lion in 2001 and 2005.
Owen Farrell (83 caps, 2012-)
The solely participant from the present set-up to make it onto our checklist at this juncture, there will be no denying that Farrell has cast an impressive England profession, and remains to be solely 28-years-old.
A 2016 Grand Slam winner, 2017 Six Nations winner and three-time Triple Crown winner (2014, 2016, 2017), Farrell was additionally a part of 2016’s three-Test whitewash of the Wallabies in Australia. He has additionally represented the Lions on two excursions (2013, 2017).
Since, he has gone on to develop into England captain and led his nation to the 2019 Rugby World Cup last in Japan, solely to undergo defeat at the fingers of South Africa. Their semi-final victory over New Zealand in Yokohama was the biggest single efficiency by an England workforce in historical past, nevertheless.
One of, if not the best place-kicker all through the majority of his profession, Farrell will quickly cross Underwood’s file to develop into the most capped again in England historical past. Thereafter, he’s a certainty – damage apart – to streak previous 100 caps. An out-and-out winner on the pitch.
Peter Winterbottom (58 caps, 1982-1993)
One of the few actual, pure opensides England have produced. Indeed, Winterbottom is regarded by many as England’s biggest ever flanker.
A monstrously correct defender, with a penchant for destroying opposition fly-halves, Winterbottom travelled the world on the membership scene, enjoying in South Africa and New Zealand, in addition to in England.
A relentless work-rate and insatiable urge for food to disrupt and win, he went on to Lions excursions a decade aside in 1983 and 1993.