Top 10 Props of all-time
The men who battle in the front row are often overlooked when it comes to the headlines and glittering prizes, but here at RUCK.co.uk we thought it would be appropriate to honour our all-time Top 10 rugby props.
10. Tendai Mtawarira
Zimbabwean-born Loosehead prop Tendai Mtawarira plays his international rugby for the Springboks and certainly lives up to his nickname ‘The Beast’. The 29-year old made his Test debut playing against Wales in June 2008 and has gone on to so far make 66 caps for South Africa, and should add to that total at the upcoming 2015 Rugby World Cup. Known for his immense physicality, the crowd favourite is a very powerful scrummager. However, his considerable efforts in defence also add to the powerful forwards extensive repertoire of strengths.
Did you know: At the age of 15 he was spotted by legendary Zimbabwean Coach Joey Muwadzuri, who invited him to join the Under 19 side.
9. Tom Smith
Stalwart Scotland and British Lions prop Tom Smith was renowned for his strong scrummaging and good hands. He made his Scotland debut in 1997 against England before making his name on the Lions tour of South Africa later that year. After an international career that included two World Cups, Smith’s final match in the blue jersey, appropriately enough, finished as it started, against England in the Six Nations at Twickenham in 2005.
Did you know: He is a tireless ambassador in raising awareness about Epilepsy as patron of the charity Enlighten, has used his own experiences from having the condition to help others and encourage participation in rugby.
8. Jannie du Plessis
Alongside his brother Bismark, experienced tighthead Jannie Du Plessis has helped construct the Springbok scrum into the most one of the most powerful forces ever seen in world rugby. Since making his Test debut he has made 64 appearances for South Africa and was a part of the Springbok squad that won the World Cup in 2007. The 32-year old veteran has since continued to play a massive part in the South Africa team as when it comes to scrum time there is nobody who is more reliable than him.
Did you know: He became a qualified doctor, making him one of the few rugby players to simultaneously have a career outside of the sport.
7. Marcos Ayerza
Argentina has produced more than its fair share of quality props, and Marcos Ayerza is no exception, proving over the year’s he can more than hold his own at scrum time with anyone in the world. He made his international debut for Argentina while playing amateur club rugby for Cardinal Newman in Buenos Aires. His first professional contract came with Guinness Premiership side Leicester in 2006, by which time he was already an established international. At the World Cup in 2007, he displayed his ability as he played an important role in Los Pumas side that defied the odds to finish in third place.
Did you know: He won back-to-back Guinness Premiership titles with Leicester Tigers, in 2009 and 2010.
6. Graham Price
Wales legend Graham Price became the most distinguished prop in world rugby during the late 1970’s, early 1980’s due to his bubbly personality, terrific work ethic and never say die attitude when it came to scrum time. When he retired from international rugby his appearance totals emphasised the impact he had made on the game: 41 caps for Wales and 12 Tests for the Lions were both records for a prop. The latter of which is unlikely to be broken anytime soon.
Did you know: He was actually born in Moascar, Egypt.
5. Owen Franks
Powerful but mobile front rower Owen Franks scrummaging ability is purely outstanding but his work around the field also impresses, particularly his big hits in defence. The 27-year old made his Test debut against Italy in 2009 before playing an integral role in the All Blacks side that won the World Cup in 2011, playing all 80 minutes of the final triumph against France. We have him ranked fifth at the minute but another good World Cup this year and he may find himself flirting with the top two.
Did you know: Heading into 2015, Franks had missed just 11 of the All Blacks Tests since his debut in 2009.
4. Richard Loe
Plying his trade for New Zealand between 1987 and 1995, granite-like prop forward Richard Loe became a world-renowned figurehead in international rugby. He represented the All Blacks at three World Cups, assisting New Zealand to a famous victory at the inaugural competition in 1987. Standing six foot one and weighing in at 18 stone Loe built a reputation as one of the toughest players in rugby, with his bull-like strength making him a phenomenal asset in the scrum. Well worth his place on the list.
Did you know: With a reputation for underhand tactics on the pitch he was often referred to as ‘The Enforcer’ by his All Black teammates.
3. Os Du Randt
When he retired, Os Du Randt was the most capped Springbok prop ever, having amassed 80 Tests during a career that spanned 14 years. He is the only Springbok who has two Rugby World Cup winners medals in his collection, triumphing as a youngster in 1995 before lifting the Webb Ellis Cup again in France in 2007, this time as a veteran. Due to injuries the powerful forward had actually retired at the turn of the century but made a stunning return to Test rugby for the Springboks in 2004 before being voted the Players’ Player of the Year. A giant both literally and figuratively, this incredible hard worker deserves his place at number 3 on our list indisputably.
Did you know: He was the last active member of the South African 1995 Rugby World Cup-winning squad.
2. Cian Healy
Forward Cian Healy has in recent year’s developed into the most destructive open field running prop in modern rugby. The 27-year old without a doubt has been a key cog in Ireland’s success as the Glashonds won back-to-back Six Nations titles in 2014 and 2015. Since his introduction to the national team in 2009 he has made 50 caps, and has been able to turn what was a fragile Irish scrum into a powerhouse. However, disappointingly there is just a ten per cent chance Healy will make it to the 2015 World Cup due to a serious neck injury that he is still recovering from.
Did you know: He can bench press over 200 kg (440 lb) and squat over 300 kg (661 lb).
1. Jason Leonard
England and British Lions star Jason Leonard spent a total of 14 years in the white of national team spanning over both the amateur and professional eras, and he was successful in both. He made his debut as a raw 22-year old in 1990 before going on to make an incredible 114 appearances, which is more international caps than any other prop in history. The former carpenter won every one of international rugby’s major accolades; Triple Crowns, Grand Slams and in 2003, The Rugby World Cup. The former Harlequins and Saracens forwards ability to play both loose head and tight head with almost equal expertise made him without a doubt the best scrummager of his generation and in our opinion all time.
Did you know: In January 2009 he became Lead Ambassador of the Wooden Spoon Society, a charity for disadvantaged children and young persons that has its roots founded in rugby.