S
SEARCH
M
SM
Thursday, June 4

England

/esi/1339/6_A_4_394640_0/index.html?art_id=394640&ESI

England's 10 greatest rugby players of all time

:Headline: England's 10 greatest rugby players of all time: ID:394640: from db_amp
The likes of Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson and Rory Underwood have shone for the Red Rose.

As with all sports English rugby union has been brought to a halt by the coronavirus crisis, offering the opportunity to reflect on some of the greats the nation has produced down the years.

Here the PA news agency picks 10 of the finest players to have worn the Red Rose.

Wavell Wakefield (1920-27, 31 caps)

Wavell Wakefield (left) manned the barricades against professionalism, PA

An inspirational captain who led England to back-to-back Grand Slams in 1923 and 1924, Wakefield was a mainstay of the back row for most of the 1920s. Roles have been redefined throughout rugby's history and Wakefield was the first to do it as a flanker, his dynamism and strength transforming the position into the roaming function seen to this day. A career as a Conservative MP followed, as did a knighthood, and he was a staunch supporter of amateurism.

David Duckham (1969-76, 39 caps)

David Duckham was at home in the 1973 Barbarians team populated with Welsh genius (PA)

Duckham makes the list despite playing during a challenging era for English rugby that produced four Five Nations wooden spoons during his seven years in the Test arena. For all the mediocrity around him, the dashing Coventry wing was fast and elusive with a devastating side-step and hand-off. It was when playing alongside a higher calibre of player that he really shone, most notably on the triumphant 1971 Lions tour to New Zealand and in the Barbarians' famous victory over the All Blacks in 1973.

Peter Winterbottom (1982-93, 58 caps)

Other players may have grabbed the headlines, but Peter Winterbottom was a rare talent (Adam Butler/PA)

To this day Winterbottom has a strong claim to being recognised as England's greatest flanker and is considered an all-time great in any era. One of the few genuine opensides produced on these shores with only Neil Back and the emerging Tom Curry rivalling his skills in the position. The well-travelled Yorkshireman, who enjoyed spells in New Zealand and South African provincial rugby, was a dynamo in relentless pursuit of the ball. Matching his link work, support play and ability to hunt down opposition fly-halves was a physicality that belied his frame.

Rory Underwood (1984-96, 85 caps)

RAF pilot Rory Underwood was the most devastating finisher of them all (Danny Lawson/PA)

Still out of sight as England's all-time record try-scorer on 49, it is Underwood's tremendous longevity as much as his gift for finishing that sets him apart. His CV is enriched by three World Cups and two Lions tours and he was an ever-present for the majority of his career, including latterly when he played on the opposite wing to younger brother Tony. The RAF pilot was lightening quick and blessed with a nose for the try-line that identifies him as the most clinical finisher to have worn the Red Rose.

Jeremy Guscott (1989-1999, 65 caps)

There were few more gifted players than Jeremy Guscott (Tom Hevezi/PA)

Acclaimed as the 'The Prince of Centres' by Sir Clive Woodward, Guscott was a majestic presence in midfield where he formed a famed partnership alongside Will Carling. Whereas Carling was more of a blunt instrument, Guscott was a creative force whose running lines and ability to glide into space were a constant threat. Won three Grand Slams and appeared at three World Cups and remains England's fourth highest try scorer on 30.

Martin Johnson (1993-2003, 84 caps)

Martin Johnson – probably the greatest of them all (David Davies/PA)

Possibly the greatest of them all, Johnson's influence on England during an era that delivered the nation's only World Cup triumph cannot be underestimated. The two-time Lions captain was surrounded by leaders and world-class operators, but he was the colossus among them. Johnson was an old school lock, aggressive with high work-rate and good at the basics. But for all his glowering menace, England's enforcer possessed a sharp rugby intellect that set him apart.

Lawrence Dallaglio (1995-2007, 85 caps)

Few players have been more passionate about playing for England than Lawrence Dallaglio (David Davies/PA)

England's 1993 Sevens World Cup triumph was the unlikely launchpad for a remarkable career that saw Dallaglio become forward talisman alongside Martin Johnson during the nation's most successful era. Powerful and athletic, the raging number eight made his presence felt in attack and defence and he displayed a competitive spirit to match. Acting as the emotional heartbeat of the 2003 World Cup-winning side, his pride at playing for England was evident in every game. Led the team before Johnson and wore his loyalty to Wasps – the only club he represented – as a badge of honour.

Jason Robinson (2001-2007, 51 caps)

Jason Robinson remains the most successful dual-code international (David Davies/PA)

An extraordinary player the like of which has not been seen before or since. Robinson's devilish footwork and injection of pace made a fool of world-class opponents time and again and spectators could only marvel at his ability to turn the tightest space into the launchpad for one of his 28 tries in an England jersey. A 2003 World Cup winner and Red Rose captain, his exploits as a wing and full-back came after he converted from rugby league as a 25-year-old having proved every bit as devastating in that code.

Jonny Wilkinson (1998-2011, 91 caps)

Jonny Wilkinson mentor's England's current fly-halves (Clive Gee/PA)

It is fitting that England's all-time record points scorer was also responsible for the standout moment in Red Rose history. Wilkinson kicked the last-gasp drop-goal that clinched the 2003 World Cup final, now an unforgettable sporting image that seals his place in rugby folklore. The Lions fly-half was an all-rounder, highly capable as a creative fulcrum and possessing outstanding game management, but also ferocious in defence. It is his kicking that propelled him to the highest level, however, and but for a devastating run of injuries he would have achieved even more.

Maro Itoje (2016-present, 38 caps)

Maro Itoje is a towering presence for Eddie Jones' England (David Davies/PA)

Of the current England vintage, only Itoje makes this list. The fact he does it as a 25-year-old entering his prime is a frightening prospect and he is surely captain in waiting with Owen Farrell currently at the helm. Extraordinary work-rate and relentless controlled aggression serve as the foundations of his game and he is a one-man wrecking ball at close quarters – just witness the mayhem he caused against New Zealand in last autumn's World Cup semi-final. A gifted athlete, he would be the first lock picked for a world XV and potentially the first name on the team-sheet.

amp_article_394640 : Database Data restored...  : 
last updated article - 2020-03-28 15:24:05:
html db last update - 2020-06-04 00:53:01 :

ex - 7200 : read : read cache amp html
Share this article now:
Show comments
Read more about England Rugby Union
Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool29271166214582
2Manchester CityMan City28183768313757
3Leicester CityLeicester29165858283053
4Chelsea29146951391248
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd29129844301445
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves29101364134743
7Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd28111073025543
8Tottenham HotspurSpurs29118104740741
9Arsenal2891364036440
10Burnley29116123440-639
11Crystal Palace29109102632-639
12Everton29107123746-937
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2998122541-1635
14Southampton29104153552-1734
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton29611123240-829
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham2976163550-1527
17Watford2969142744-1727
18Bournemouth2976162947-1827
19Aston Villa2874173456-2225
20Norwich CityNorwich2956182552-2721
Scroll for more - Tap for full version

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
UC
Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

La Liga Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona27184563313258
2Real Madrid27168349193056
3Sevilla27138639291047
4Real Sociedad27144945331246
5Getafe27137737251246
6Atletico MadridAtletico271112431211045
7Valencia2711973839-142
8Villarreal27115114438638
9Granada27115113332138
10Athletic Bilbao2791082923637
11Osasuna2781093438-434
12Real Betis2789103843-533
13Levante27103143240-833
14AlavesAlaves2788112937-832
15Real Valladolid27611102333-1029
16EibarEibar2776142741-1427
17Celta Vigo27511112234-1226
18Mallorca2774162844-1625
19Leganes2758142139-1823
20Espanyol2748152346-2320
Scroll for more - Tap for full version
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
X

We value your privacy

A part of our GDPR compliance we need to ask for your consent. We and our partners use technology such as cookies on Sports Mole to personalise content and ads, provide social media features, and analyse our traffic. Click below to consent to the use of this technology on Sports Mole.