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Top 10 Number 8's in Rugby

Top 10 all-time Number 8’s

Top 10 all-time number eights

As our series continues this week, we are exploring the all-time Top 10 No.8’s.

The controlling force behind the scrum, the number eight completes the pack and must be incredibly strong and are the key ball winners with the muscle of forwards and pace of the backs.

Let’s get started…

10 Hennie Muller

Another captain turned coach of the Springboks; Hennie Muller is regarded as one of their greatest ever players. Despite only winning 13 test caps, Muller captained his country in nine of those, becoming one of the most successful South Africa leaders ever.

Did you know: In 2001 he was inducted into the International Hall of Fame.

9 Morne du Plessis

Morné du Plessis was one of South Africa’s greatest rugby players and leaders, and in both respects he followed in his father’s footsteps. He captained the Springboks for five years but was limited to just 22 appearances during a 10-year international career due to the sports boycott facing South Africa due to the ill-fated apartheid era.

Did you know: In 1995 he was manager of the side that won the Rugby World Cup in Ellis Park, Johannesburg, and received the trophy from Nelson Mandela

8 Imanol Harinordoquy

The tall French back row forward Imanol Harinordoquy was hailed as a shining talent when he made an outstanding debut for France against Wales in Cardiff in 2002. The number eight went on to make 82 international appearances for Les Bleus between 2002 and 2012 and was part of the side that came runners up to the All Blacks in 2011.

Did you know: He reportedly described English opponents in his youth as “extremely unpleasant…so chauvinistic and arrogant”.

7 Dean Richards

Force of nature Dean Richards was an influential part of England’s multi-Grand Slam winning side in the late 1980’s early 1990’s. He became an integral component of the England pack at the beginning of the 1990s, and was one of the top number eights in the world, winning 48 England caps and six caps for the British Lions on their 1989 and 1993 tours.

Did you know: As a coach he won four Premiership titles and two Heineken Cups with Leicester Tigers.

6 Scott Quinnell

Son of legendary Wales flanker Derek, Scott Quinnell was a cross-code star of the 1990’s, representing Wales in both Union and League. His Test debut came against Canada in 1993, but it was against France in 1994, as Wales were on their way to the Five Nations title, that he announced himself with a stunning solo try. He retired in 2002 after making 52 appearances for Wales before hanging his boots up entirely in 2005 to focus on coaching Llanelli, before later becoming a well-liked television pundit.

Did you know: He has made a recurring guest appearance as himself in the Sky 1TV comedy series Stella.

5 Mervyn Davies

The late Wales and British Lions Number 8 Thomas “Mervyn” Davies is the only player on this list from the pre-World Cup era. He won a Triple Crown in his first international season in 1968 before claiming a Grand Slam and being selected for the Lions’ famous tour of New Zealand in 1971. He then skippered Wales to the Five Nations Championship in 1975 before winning the Grand Slam the following year but was forced to retire at the age of 29 due to injury. Davies sadly lost a long battle with cancer on March 16, 2012 – just one day before Wales went for a possible Grand Slam against France.

Did you know: He was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2001 and the following year a poll of Welsh rugby fans saw him voted the greatest ever Welsh captain and the greatest ever Welsh No.8.

4 Wayne Shelford

All Black Wayne “Buck” Shelford was a top class forward and was also credited with the improved performance of the All Blacks traditional “Ka Mate” haka. He was part of the New Zealand team that won the inaugural World Cup in 1987 and after that competition concluded became Captain until 1990. In that time, the All Blacks didn’t lose a game, drawing once against Australia in 1988.

Did you know: In June 2007 it was announced that Shelford faced the biggest battle of his life after being diagnosed with a form of cancer labelled lymphoma. He made a full recovery from the disease.

3 Lawrence Dallaglio

Lawrence Dallaglio is probably the most decorated number eight in the history of the game. The former England Skipper simply won everything possible in the game: including a World Cup, a Lions tour, World Cup Sevens, Heineken Cup, European Challenge Cup, English Premiership and the English domestic cup. He won a total of 85 caps during an international career that spanned 12 years from 1995 to 2007 while also making three appearances for the British and Irish Lions.

Did you know: Dallaglio was the only player to play every minute during England’s triumphant 2003 World Cup campaign.

2 Sergio Parisse

The 6ft 5in Italian Sergio Parisse was outstanding in the lineout and had the flair and pace across the ground to gain valuable ground when the Azzurri drives forward. Parisse won the first of his 112 caps to date at the age of 18 and aged 31 could still have a few year’s of international rugby still to go. He is set to add to his tally as he Captains Italy at the upcoming World Cup in England.

Did you know: Parisse married Miss France 2006 and Miss Europe 2006 Alexandra Rosenfeld in early 2010.

1 Zinzan Brooke

Topping the list is All Black Zinzan Brooke. He was an effective forward but also had top class handling skills and a trustworthy boot making him quite the unique player. During his international career that spanned a decade from 1987 to 1997, he played in two World Cups in 1991 and 1995 scoring an unforgettable drop goal from 47 metres out against England in the latter. Brooke in total played 58 tests for New Zealand, scoring 89 points.

Did you know: As well as rugby union, Brooke played Gaelic football, both before and after his rugby career.