Flankers are some of the most important players in rugby, responsible for disrupting the opposition’s play and securing possession for their team. Over the years, there have been some exceptional flankers who have stood out as the best in the game. In this blog, we will take a look at the 10 best flankers in rugby of all time, their unique qualities, and the statistics that make them stand out.
- Richie McCaw – New Zealand Richie McCaw is widely regarded as the greatest flanker of all time. He is the most capped All Black of all time and has won two Rugby World Cups. His skills on the field were remarkable, and he was a key player in the All Blacks’ success. McCaw’s ability to win turnovers was second to none, and he was a master of the breakdown, securing possession for his team. He won an incredible 135 turnovers in his international career.
- George Smith – Australia George Smith was a force to be reckoned with on the rugby field. He played for the Wallabies for over a decade and won 111 caps. Smith was known for his exceptional tackling and his ability to get over the ball at the breakdown. He won 114 turnovers in his international career, the third most by any player.
- David Pocock – Australia David Pocock is another Australian flanker who was a master at the breakdown. He was a fearsome tackler and his ability to slow down opposition ball was crucial for the Wallabies. Pocock won an impressive 103 turnovers in his international career, the fifth most by any player.
- Francois Pienaar – South Africa Francois Pienaar led South Africa to victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup and was a key player in the team. He was a tireless worker on the field and was known for his physicality and his ability to get over the ball at the breakdown. Pienaar won 15 turnovers in the 1995 World Cup alone.
- Michael Jones – New Zealand Michael Jones was a trailblazer for Pacific Island rugby players and is widely regarded as one of the best All Blacks of all time. He was an exceptional defender and was known for his speed and athleticism. Jones won 52 turnovers in his international career.
- Neil Back – England Neil Back was a key player for England during the 2003 Rugby World Cup, where they were crowned champions. He was an expert at the breakdown and his ability to win turnovers was crucial for the team. Back won 36 turnovers in his international career.
- Schalk Burger – South Africa Schalk Burger was a dynamic and physical player for the Springboks. He was a tough tackler and was not afraid to get stuck in at the breakdown. Burger won 79 turnovers in his international career, the eighth most by any player.
- Sam Warburton – Wales Sam Warburton was a key player for Wales during their successful period in the early 2010s. He was an excellent captain and led by example on the field. Warburton was a master of the breakdown and won 74 turnovers in his international career.
- Sergio Parisse – Italy Sergio Parisse is widely regarded as one of the best Italian rugby players of all time. He was a versatile player who could play in the back row or at number 8. Parisse was a tireless worker on the field and was known for his excellent ball-carrying skills. He won 91 turnovers in his international career.
- Lawrence Dallaglio – England Lawrence Dallaglio was a key player for England during their successful period in the early 2000s. He was a
powerful and dynamic player who could play at flanker or number 8. Dallaglio was known for his ability to win turnovers and was a key part of the England team that won the 2003 Rugby World Cup. He won 36 turnovers in his international career.
What sets these players apart from others in their position is their ability to disrupt the opposition’s play and win turnovers at the breakdown. They were all exceptional defenders and were able to read the game well, anticipating where the ball would be and getting into the right position to make a tackle or steal possession.
In terms of statistics, turnovers won is a key metric for flankers, and all of the players on this list have impressive numbers in that regard. Richie McCaw, for example, won an incredible 135 turnovers in his international career, more than any other player. George Smith and David Pocock also have impressive numbers, with 114 and 103 turnovers respectively.
Another important statistic for flankers is tackles made. Sam Warburton tops the list with 823 tackles in his international career, followed closely by Michael Jones with 753. Neil Back, George Smith, and Schalk Burger also have impressive numbers in this category.
In conclusion, the 10 flankers on this list are some of the best to have ever played the game. Their ability to disrupt the opposition’s play and secure possession for their team was unparalleled, and their statistics speak for themselves. These players were exceptional defenders who could read the game well and were not afraid to put their bodies on the line for their team. They are true legends of the sport and have left a lasting impact on rugby.