15 Greatest Rugby World Cup Players of All Time

The best rugby players in world cup history

With the eighth rugby world cup just around the corner, Green Beans decided to look back through the years at some of the greatest players ever to grace the tournament. With no Welsh or Irish players making the list, it is bound to raise a few eyebrows.

So, from the first world cup in 1987, here are the best players who have performed on rugby's greatest stage...

15. Joost van der Westhuizen (South Africa)

Joost van der Westhuizen was played a pivotal role in South Africa's success during the 90s. He simply had it all - speed, distribution, hunger and a rare habit of scoring a hat full of tries for a man in his position. He racked up a total of 38 test tries.

14. Gavin Hastings (Scotland)

Even though he'll be sorely remembered for that dreadful missed kick right in front of the posts against England in the 1991 word cup semi final, there is still no escaping the fact Gavin Hastings was hugely prolific, with 227 world cup points and an impressive nine tries in just 13 matches.

13. George Gregan (Australia)

George Gregan was by far the best scrum half of his generation, leading Australia to their second world cup success in 1999, beating France in the Cardiff final. This complete player has made the second most world cup appearances.

12. Sean Fitzpatrick (New Zealand)

Sean Fitzpatrick will always be remembered as the first man to lift the rugby world cup. The New Zealand captain was part of the formidable All Blacks side of 1987 that destroyed all before them on their way to lifting the trophy in front of their adoring fans.

11. Michael Lynagh (Australia)

We all love to talk about the genius of Campo during the 1991 world cup but it was Michael Lynagh's last-gasp quarter-final try against Ireland that kept the Wallabies’ World Cup dream alive. Third on the points list, with 195 points from 15 appearances, it was his boot which then counter-pointed Campo’s genius in the semi-final win over New Zealand.

10. Fancois Pienaar (South Africa)

The 1995 rugby world cup in South Africa still goes down as the greatest of them all. The image of Nelson Mandela famously presenting the trophy to the inspirational captain, Francois Pienaar, is so iconic that they even made a movie on it.

9. Martin Johnson (England)

Martin Johnson was an absolute warrior. The world cup winning captain was a part of the most solid and resolute England team of all time, and even though Wilko grabbed the headlines, make no mistake, without Martin Johnson England would not have lifted the trophy down under.

8. John Eagles (Australia)

With two trophy triumphs, including the 1999 success, this agile, goal-kicking second row skippered Australia to glory in Wales. John Eagles was a magnificent ambassador for the game and a truly fantastic player.

7. Richie McCaw (New Zealand)

Richie McCaw is arguably the best back rower that ever lived. The New Zealand captain famously ended 24 years of hurt by helping the All Blacks beat France in a tense final to lift the world cup in front of their home fans. The multiple player of the year will go down as a legend once he hangs up his boots - and rightly so. A class act.

6. Juan Martin Hernandez (Argentina)

Juan Martin Hernandez took Argentina to new heights at the 2007 world cup where they shocked the world by beating the hosts on their way to the semi finals, eventually finishing third. Hernandez had the tournament of his life, cementing his place as one of the all time world cup greats.

5. Bryan Habana (South Africa)

Bryan Habana was the star of the 2007 world cup, helping South Africa lift their second trophy, beating England in the final. The speedy winger was the tournament's top try scorer, equalling Jonah Lomu's record with eight touchdowns. Habana is still regarded as one of the best wingers that ever played the game.

4. Serge Blanco (France)

The greatest full-back of all time scored what remains one of the finest tries in world cup history, heroically rounding off a memorable long-range effort in the dying minutes of the 1987 semi-final against Australia to book France a place in the Eden Park final. Serge Blanco is without doubt one of the greatest players never to have won a world cup.

3. Jonah Lomu (New Zealand)

A legend was born at the 1995 world cup in South Africa. Jonah Lomu was the first rugby superstar, bulldozing all that stood in his way to drag to the All Blacks to the 1995 final, only to be beaten by the Springboks. Lomu was the star again in the 1999 New Zealand side, only for the inspired French to throw a spanner in the works with one of the best comebacks of all time in the semi final.

2. Jonny Wilkinson (England)

Jonny Wilkinson inspired a whole new generation during his England playing days. This dynamic fly half was the star of the England side that famously lifted the world cup down under in 2003. Defensively sound with excellent distribution skills to match, this goal kicking machine dropped the most famous goal in world cup history with his last gasp punt against Australia in the final. Jonny then helped an unfancied England reach the final again four years later, only to be denied by South Africa.

1. David Campese (Australia)

Football has Pele. Rugby has David Campese. The original great entertainer reached his peak in the 1991 world cup, when he was named player of the tournament. This Australian wizard produced one of the great individual displays in the semi-final win over New Zealand, scoring one try and creating another. No player did it or ever will do it quite like Campo.

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