10 Best Rugby Coaches Of All Time!

Rugby is a sport that requires exceptional leadership, strategic acumen, and the ability to inspire and mold a team. Behind every successful rugby team is a great coach who plays a pivotal role in their development and achievements. In this article, we will explore the ten best rugby coaches of all time, whose innovative approaches, tactical brilliance, and man-management skills have left an indelible mark on the sport.

  1. Sir Graham Henry (New Zealand): Sir Graham Henry is widely regarded as one of the greatest rugby coaches of all time. He guided the New Zealand All Blacks to victory in the 2011 Rugby World Cup and led them to an unprecedented 88% win rate during his tenure. Henry’s attention to detail, emphasis on skill development, and ability to build a winning culture set him apart.
  2. Sir Clive Woodward (England): Sir Clive Woodward’s crowning achievement came in 2003 when he led the England national team to their first Rugby World Cup triumph. His meticulous planning, focus on innovation, and investment in sports science revolutionized England’s approach to the game. Woodward’s commitment to excellence and attention to every aspect of the team’s preparation made him a visionary coach.
  3. Steve Hansen (New Zealand): As an assistant coach under Sir Graham Henry and later as head coach, Steve Hansen played a significant role in New Zealand’s sustained success. He led the All Blacks to back-to-back Rugby World Cup victories in 2015 and 2019, showcasing his ability to maintain high standards and evolve the team’s playing style.
  4. Jake White (South Africa): Jake White guided the South African national team, the Springboks, to their second Rugby World Cup title in 2007. Known for his meticulous planning, emphasis on physicality, and attention to detail, White built a formidable Springboks side that showcased a balanced and dominant style of play.
  5. Warren Gatland (New Zealand/Wales/British and Irish Lions): Warren Gatland has enjoyed success across multiple coaching roles. He led Wales to multiple Six Nations titles and a Grand Slam victory, revitalizing Welsh rugby. Gatland also achieved notable success as head coach of the British and Irish Lions, including a drawn series against New Zealand in 2017. His ability to create a strong team culture and adapt to different playing styles has made him one of the most respected coaches in the game.
  6. Rod Macqueen (Australia): Rod Macqueen’s tenure as head coach of the Australian national team saw the Wallabies win the Rugby World Cup in 1999. His emphasis on skill development, expansive attacking play, and strong team culture contributed to Australia’s success during that period.
  7. Wayne Smith (New Zealand): Wayne Smith, as an assistant coach, played a crucial role in New Zealand’s dominance during the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cup victories. His tactical expertise, attention to detail, and ability to motivate players were instrumental in the All Blacks’ success.
  8. Eddie Jones (England/Australia): Eddie Jones has achieved success both as a head coach and an assistant coach. He led England to a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2016 and guided them to the Rugby World Cup final in 2019. Jones’ innovative approach to the game, astute game-planning, and ability to extract the best out of his players have made him a formidable coach.
  9. Kitch Christie (South Africa): Kitch Christie coached the South African national team to their first Rugby World Cup victory in 1995. His meticulous preparation, strong emphasis on physicality, and ability to instill belief in his players played a significant role in South Africa’s historic triumph.
  10. John Kirwan (Italy/Japan): John Kirwan, known for his playing career with New Zealand, has made a significant impact as a coach. He revitalized the Italian national team during his tenure and led Japan to their historic victory over South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, showcasing his ability to nurture talent and produce exceptional results.


These ten coaches have left an indelible mark on the sport of rugby through their innovative approaches, tactical brilliance, and ability to inspire and lead their teams to greatness. Their dedication, vision, and the impact they have had on their respective teams and the sport as a whole solidify their status as some of the greatest rugby coaches of all time. Their contributions continue to shape the game and inspire future generations of rugby coaches and players.

What does a rugby coach do? A rugby coach is responsible for leading and guiding a rugby team. They develop game strategies, create training programs, analyze opponents, manage player selection, provide tactical instructions, and motivate players to perform at their best.

What qualifications are required to become a rugby coach? The qualifications required to become a rugby coach can vary depending on the level and country. However, most coaches benefit from obtaining coaching certifications and qualifications offered by rugby governing bodies. These certifications often include courses on coaching principles, game analysis, player safety, and skill development.

How does a rugby coach develop game strategies? Rugby coaches develop game strategies by analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of their own team and the opposition. They study match footage, assess player skills, and consider the team’s style of play. Coaches devise plans to exploit the opposition’s weaknesses while maximizing their team’s strengths, aiming to create an effective game plan.

What skills are important for a rugby coach to possess? A rugby coach should possess excellent communication skills to effectively convey instructions to players and provide feedback. They should be knowledgeable about the game’s technical aspects, possess strong leadership abilities, and have a keen understanding of strategy and tactics. Additionally, the ability to manage and motivate a diverse group of players is crucial.

How do rugby coaches motivate players? Rugby coaches motivate players by setting goals, fostering a positive team culture, providing constructive feedback, and recognizing individual and team achievements. They create an environment where players feel valued, supported, and inspired to give their best effort. Coaches also use various motivational techniques, such as pre-match speeches, team-building exercises, and individual goal setting.

How does a rugby coach assess player performance? Rugby coaches assess player performance through match analysis, training sessions, and performance reviews. They observe technical skills, decision-making abilities, physical attributes, and overall contribution to team performance.

Recent Posts