All-time Six Nations XV: Who was the greatest full-back?
Who, among the legends that have worn the 15 jersey, is the greatest full-back to have played in the Six Nations?
They say you have to be slightly mad to play at full-back and a quick scroll down our shortlist will do little to dispel that theory.
And if the contenders for the full-back spot in our best-ever Six Nations XV were not completely crazy, there were invariably signs of eccentricity and bravery to the point of insanity. Yet they could also show an uncanny calmness under pressure.
1. SERGE BLANCO (France)
Serge Blanco’s 93 caps for France were filled with outlandish levels of attacking skill and ambition. Few other players can lay claim to the legacy that Blanco assured for himself. A spellbinding runner and devilish presence on the field, he was charismatic and enigmatic off it. His brilliance was evident throughout the Five Nations championships that he played in, winning Grand Slams with France in 1981 and 1987 as well as four further titles.
2. GAVIN HASTINGS (Scotland)
When Gavin Hastings captained Scotland at Twickenham in the final Five Nations Championship match of the 1993 season, he was a few months away from skippering the British & Irish Lions’ tour to New Zealand, pipping England’s Will Carling to the role. Hastings was also a fine goal-kicker, often from long distance.
3. JPR WILLIAMS (Wales)
John Peter Rhys Williams is revered the world over as one of, if not the, finest fullbacks ever to come out of the northern hemisphere. Making his Wales debut in 1969 against Scotland at Murrayfield, Williams would go on to win 55 caps for Wales before his retirement in 1981. During his career he became part of the golden generation of Welsh rugby, winning Five Nations Grand Slams in 1971, 1976 and 1978.
4. JASON ROBINSON (England)
The 5ft 8in Yorkshireman brought incredible professionalism to an England camp not long out of the amateur era, with Jonny Wilkinson saying Robinson’s arrival forced him to re-evaluate the game. He started more games at full-back (28) than wing (19) for England, and those who doubted his ability to catch the high ball were soon assuaged by his athletic prowess; he had a 3ft standing jump that enabled him to out leap far taller men.
5. STUART HOGG (Scotland)
Two-time British & Irish Lions tourist and back-to-back RBS 6 Nations Player of the Championship winner (2016 and 2017)), Stuart Hogg is the only current player to make the shortlist. Hogg’s work-rate, consistency and attacking brilliance make him one of the standout superstars in the modern day.