Keith Wood names greatest XV he's played against, includes four Englishmen - Ruck

Keith Wood names greatest XV he’s played against, includes four Englishmen

Lions and Ireland great Keith Wood has named four Englishmen in a star-studded dream XV of players he lined up against.

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The line-up also includes three players apiece from New Zealand and Australia, two from South Africa, one Scot and solo stars from Argentina and Wales.

Scott Gibbs is the former hooker’s one pick from Wales in a selection published via Off The Ball.

Wood is a revered figure in rugby history. Renowned as one of the game’s greatest hookers, Wood’s career spanned from 1994 to 2003.

He earned 58 caps for Ireland and played in two Rugby World Cups. Wood’s athleticism, tenacity, and leadership made him a standout player, notably as captain of the Irish team. His accolades include multiple Six Nations titles and British and Irish Lions tours.

Post-retirement, Wood transitioned into punditry, offering insightful commentary on the sport. He remains an influential voice and a symbol of Irish rugby excellence.

Keith Wood’s dream XV:


15. Christian Cullen (New Zealand)

14. Jason Robinson (England)

11. Jonah Lomu (New Zealand)


13. Jeremy Guscott (England)

12. Scott Gibbs (Wales): “I played against him and I played with him. He was about as destructive as it comes as a 12. He was extraordinary — absolutely solid, a total tank.”


10. Stephen Larkham (Australia)

9 George Gregan (Australia)


1. Tom Smith (Scotland)

2. Mario Ledesma (Argentina)

3. Jason Leonard (England)


4. Martin Johnson (England)

5. John Eales (Australia)


6. Francois Pienaar (South Africa)

7. Ruben Kruger (South Africa)

8. Zinzan Brooke (New Zealand)

The ‘greatest rugby union XV of all-time’ has been named

The greatest rugby union XV of all-time in the history of rugby… and there’s no room for Dan Carter, Paul O’Connell and Sergio Parisse.

Of course, there’s no correct answer. Everyone has their own ideas and depending on when you were born, where you’re from or even who you support, it’s natural to subconscious favour some players over others.

So who does the RUCK team think should make the greatest rugby union XV of all-time?

15. Serge Blanco (France) 

The French icon’s international career with France saw the flamboyant fullback perform various outlandish levels of skill while winning Five Nation Grand Slams in 1981 and 1987 as well as four further titles.

Blanco was a threat from everywhere on the field and often took risks that we very rarely see nowadays. In total, he won 93 caps for France during his 11-year international career between 1980 and 1991, which was a record when he retired.

He also scored an imposing 233 points and is a true legend of the sport.

Did you know: Images of Blanco’s on-field heroics can always be viewed ironically alongside images of him strutting along the touchline nursing a cigarette.

Honourable mentions: JPR Williams (Wales), Jason Robinson (England), Percy Montgomery (South Africa)


14. Jonah Lomu (New Zealand)

The New Zealander remains the joint all-time top try scorer at the Rugby World Cup along with Bryan Habana, crossing the whitewash on 15 different occasions across the 1995 and 1999 tournaments.

The easiest selection in a greatest ever XV.

Originally of Tongan descent, it was Lomu who made it glamorous to be a big, bruising winger, even though his stature could have easily seen him fill in at centre or somewhere in the pack.

Much like the Juggernaut of the Marvel Universe, there wasn’t much that could stop Lomu once he’d gotten into a stride.

Did you know: In September 2009, Lomu took part in an amateur bodybuilding contest, finishing second in two categories
Honourable mentions: Bryan Habana (South Africa), Doug Howlett (New Zealand), Shane Williams (Wales)

13. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) 

The former Ireland and British and Irish Lions Skipper Brian O’Driscoll was one of the most consistent performers in the world for over a decade.

He hung up his boots in 2014 after accumulating 133 caps for Ireland with a fantastic return of 245 points. In the emerald green, he triumphed in the Six Nations in 2009 (Grand Slam) and 2014 as well as being chosen as Player of the Tournament in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

The Dublin-born is also the highest all-time Irish record try scorer with an incredible 46 scores, and also led his country more times than any other player.

Did you know: O’Driscoll was chosen as Player of the Tournament in the 2006, 2007 and 2009 RBS Six Nations Championships.

Honourable mentions: Jeremy Guscott (England), Will Greenwood (England), Frank Bunce (New Zealand)