Who was the greatest rugby player ever?

Despite being Welsh (and I have to say there is absolutely no bias in this, honest!), I have to correct former answer on the page. Gareth Edwards was voted the greatest ever rugby player a few years ago by a multinational panel of sportsmen and women, commentators, coaches, managers, trainers and many big names in sport. Sadly, younger people today regard the Jonny Wilkinsons, Carters, Leonards and Lomus of the game as the 'greatest' players. Outstanding they are, skilful without doubt. Will they go down in history as great players? Of course they will. But many of the younger fans of the greatest game on earth have never actually seen Gareth Edwards in action. I lived through the golden age of welsh rugby in the 1970s. I remember Edwards as head and shoulders above any other player. If they had seen Edwards they would soon realise that the names mentioned here are poor substitutes. If you don't believe me, then please believe the many people on the panel who voted for him, (all of which know more about the game than probably anyone contributing on this page - including me) - who all voted Gareth Edwards as the greatest player of all time - of all nations. Who knows, Jonny may well become as skilful one day, who knows that James Hook may equally become as good. But up to now, no player has even come close.


In response to JohnWelsh,

I see your point and the truth is I have never seen Gareth Edwards play a full match, only a few clips - and from them I can see his obvious talent. I agree it is all about your age! I've grown up with the likes of Jonny Wilkinson and have only ever known him as the England No. 10. Apart from Charlie Hodgson, who is a poor comparison Wilkinson is the only England fly-half I have ever really experienced.

Had I been slightly older I may have thought other players as better, however I think not being born at the time is a suitable excuse! You've experienced the Welsh at their greatest during the 1970s, I only started watching rugby seriously at the age of 13 in 2003.

So maybe, seeing as he has won a national vote, we should leave Gareth Edwards as one of the greatest players of all time. :D


Thanks for this - but I still stand by the judges' decison! It's a bit like the likes of me saying that Ian Botham was the greatest ever cricketer without having seen the great W G Grace play (he died a long time before I was born!) - and Grace was regarded by all those in the know as THE greatest cricketer of all time (Yeah??! ... and Bradman????). I guess we have to rely on the experts and put personal preferences aside.



OK, John, I give in! Gareth Edwards is the Greatest Rugby Union Player of all time! If we can't rely on the rugby experts to make a true and fair decision who can we rely on!

Thanks for an interesting discussion!



Thanks AnswerBen! Now if you want to see how rugby SHOULD be played have a look at...


...for an example of Edwards (and many of the Welsh, and English for that matter, squad). For a 70s match of the Barbarians against the All Blacks (of all people). Absolutely stunning watching the All Blacks look like the Japanese squad for a change ;-)



You have to be broadminded with a question like this and include the players in the engine room like Martin Johnson, Chris Jack or Jason Leonard.

By far, head and shoulders above these was the greatest player - agreed by all nationalities - of all time, recently voted as such by those in the game who know a thing or two about rugby. And that was Wales' great player Gareth Edwards who played for Wales in the 'golden age' of the 70s. He has yet to be surpassed both in skill, in speed, in accuracy and as a general all-rounder.


Any Welshman will of course recommend Gareth Edwards as an outstanding player. Equally any Englishman will not hesitate in saying "Jonny". However ask a New Zealander and they will tell you that Dan Carter is the greatest player of all time.

So basically it depends on your nationality and also which position you play when you're on the pitch. Only a forward can understand how hard a forward works in the often 'unseen' duties on the field.

Backs take all the glory and most commonly have their name on the score-sheet, but this doesn't necessarily make them a better player.

Jonny Wilkinson is one of the highest point scorers in international rugby and recently broke the World Record for the most drop-goals ever!

It's a matter of personal preference. Often players from the less well recognised playing countries such as Argentina get overlooked, but as a side they have improved massively in the last few years. There may be some undiscovered, or unpublicised great players in their midst.