It might not be as popular as it’s sister sport – football, or a commercial behemoth like it’s North American cousin, American Football, but Rugby is a sport that commands a very loyal fan base.
Primarily popular in the British Isles, France, Oceania, South Africa and now also Japan, the sport has been gaining in popularity year-by-year and the Rugby World Cup is becoming a must-watch tournament.
Like American football, Rugby also has players that are there to perform specific roles. Keeping that in mind, here is our list of the greatest Rugby Legends of all time.
The New Zealand All-Blacks are the most successful team in Rugby history. Jonah Lomu, their most famous player, however, never won the World Cup while playing for them.
That does not affect his legacy, though as Lomu is frequently mentioned as the finest Rugby player of the modern era.
Born in Auckland, Lomu burst onto the scene at the 1995 World Cup, reaching the finals with the All-Blacks. Operating on the wing, Lomu became the youngest All-Black of all-time when he made his debut for the national side at the age of 19. At the 1995 World Cup, he was one of the best players, scoring seven tries in five games. Though he lost the final to South Africa, Lomu was considered to be the best player of the 1995 World Cup.
In 1996, Lomu was diagnosed with a kidney disorder but soldiered on to play and was in the All-Blacks squad for the 1999 World Cup. The All-Blacks finished a disappointing fourth in the tournament, but Lomu was the player with the most tries
His career in the years after was affected by his kidney disorder, but Lomu did try to make a remarkable comeback in 2010. After not being chosen in the New Zealand team for the 2007 World Cup, Lomu announced his international retirement from professional rugby.
Heralded as Rugby’s first true international star, Lomu is considered as a pioneer in the sport’s history. He was referred to as “Rugby Union’s biggest drawcard” by major newspapers. In 2015, Lomu, unfortunately passed away after a heart attack that was linked to his kidney disorder.
O’Driscoll is famous to rugby viewers as a pundit for BT Sport and ITV Sport these days. In his playing time, he was one of the best centers the game had to offer and carved his legacy as one of the greatest Rugby Legends of all time.
Nicknamed BOD, O’Driscoll made earned his first Test Cap for Ireland in 1999. O’Driscoll announced himself to the world a year later, when he scored a hat-trick of tries against France in the Six-Nations Championship.
O’Driscoll assumed captaincy of the national side after Keith Wood’s retirement in 2003. Under his captaincy, Ireland finished second in the Six Nations Championship and Triple Crowns in 2004, 2006 and 2007. In addition, Ireland also posted their first wins over Australia (in 2002) and South Africa (in 2004) since 1979 and 1965 respectively.
O’Driscoll is the highest scorer in the history of the Six Nations Championship and the most capped player for Ireland, as well as in Rugby history. His final match for his country was in the 2014 Six Nations Championship final, where Ireland defeated France for their 12th title.
By consensus, Dan Carter is the greatest fly-half in Rugby history. He is also the highest scorer in Rugby Test Match history and the All-Black has forged a reputation as one of the all-time greats of the sport.
Making his debut for New Zealand in 2001, Carter first gained plaudits for his performances in the 2003 World Cup. In 2005, he improved and gave a career-defining performance against the British and Irish Lions, scoring two tries, five penalties and four conversions. In the same year, Carter became the first New Zealander to win the IRB Player of the Year award.
The record-holder for most points scored in Rugby Tests missed out on New Zealand’s 2011 World Cup triumph with a groin injury. But, he made amends for it as he starred in New Zealand’s successful title defense four years later, earning a Man of the Match award in the final. Carter’s four penalties, two conversions and a drop goal helped the All-Blacks beat Australia for their third World Cup title. Carter capped the year off with his third IRB Player of the Year award.