“Richie McCaw fifth” – Guardian ranked the 50 best rugby players in history - Ruck

“Richie McCaw fifth” – Guardian ranked the 50 best rugby players in history

In 2015, with the mentorship of Heineken ambassadors Will Carling and John Smit, a panel of 11 rugby union experts convened to compile a list assessing the greatest players who have graced the pinnacle stage of the sport.

Their 11 judges

 Will Carling Former England international and Heineken ambassador

 John Smit Former South Africa international and Heineken ambassador

 Robert Kitson Guardian rugby correspondent

 Eddie Butler Observer rugby correspondent and former Wales international

 Paul Rees Guardian rugby writer

 Mike Averis Guardian rugby writer

 Michael Aylwin Guardian rugby writer

 Andy Bull Guardian chief sport writer

 Claire Tolley Guardian Rugby World Cup editor

 Ian Prior GNM head of sport

 Stephen McMillan Guardian sport features editor

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How the voting worked

 The No1 choice of each judge was awarded 40pts, No2 given 39pts, down to 1pt for their No40 choice.
 All the votes were added together to give a final score.
 The voting statistics will be published here when the full top 50 has been revealed.

Top 50 players from the Guardian

Done in 2015.

50 Felipe Contepomi – Argentina – Fly-half

49 John Gallagher – New Zealand – Fullback

48 Chester Williams – South Africa – Wing

47 Willie Ofahengaue – Australia – Prop

46 Raphael Ibanez – France – Hooker

45 Agustin Pichot – Argentina – Scrum-half

44 Keith Wood – Ireland – Hooker

43 Neil Back – England – Flanker

42 Josh Kronfeld – New Zealand – Flanker

41 Gavin Hastings – Scotland – Fullback