"Top 50 ranked" - Martin Johnson named the best England rugby player of all-time - Ruck

“Top 50 ranked” – Martin Johnson named the best England rugby player of all-time

From Rugby World Cup champions to those who came close, we present the finest English rugby players of all time.

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Who claims the title of the greatest English player ever? This long-standing debate has persisted for years, spanning generations.

Nevertheless, here is our perspective on this timeless question. We bring you a comprehensive list that includes world champions, exceptional talents across eras, and contemporary legends.

Below is our rundown of the top 40 players to proudly wear the iconic white jersey.

Scroll down to discover the 40 greatest rugby players of all time, as chosen by fans.


40 best English rugby players of all-time

#40. Maggie Alphonsi

Renowned former England rugby player and trailblazer in women’s rugby. Alphonsi excelled as a flanker, known for her ferocious tackling, speed, and relentless work rate. A World Cup winner in 2014, she has made a lasting impact on the sport, inspiring future generations of female rugby players.

#39. Wade Dooley

Renowned English lock known for his towering height and physicality. Capped multiple times for England and played a crucial role in the national team’s success in the late 1980s.

#38. Manu Tuilagi

Dynamic English center renowned for his strength, speed, and devastating ball-carrying abilities. A powerful presence on the field, known for breaking tackles and creating scoring opportunities.

Manu Tuilagi of England during the Autumn Nations Match between England and Tonga at Twickenham Stoop on 6 November 2021. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

#37. Dylan Hartley

Former England captain and hooker, known for his tenacity and leadership skills. Led England to multiple victories and was a key figure in the team’s success during the Eddie Jones era.

#36. Trevor Woodman

Retired English prop known for his expertise in the scrum. A World Cup winner in 2003, Woodman’s technical skills and strength made him a formidable force in the front row.

#35. Kyran Bracken

Former England scrum-half who was a key contributor during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Known for his quick thinking, accurate passing, and strategic decision-making.

#34. Billy Vunipola

Powerful English number eight known for his physicality and ball-carrying abilities. A key player in both the national team and Saracens, bringing impact and strength to every game.

Billy Vunipola of England in possession ahead of Kazuki Himeno of Japan during the Autumn International Series match between England and Japan at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on Saturday 12th November 2022 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK.

#33. Joe Marler

Experienced English prop known for his scrummaging skills and strong work ethic. A determined player who brings both intensity and humor to the team.

Joe Marler of England Rugby during the Six Nations Championship match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on February 26th 2021. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

#32. Steve Thompson

Former England hooker and World Cup winner in 2003. A dynamic player who combined technical skill with physicality, contributing to England’s success on the international stage.

#31. Will Carling

Former England captain and center known for his leadership and playmaking abilities. Led England to multiple Five Nations victories and played a significant role in their success.