Top 10 Centres of all-time
As we continue our Top 10 sequence of investigations into the all-time best rugby player’s we are this time concentrating our sights on the centres, who wear the 12&13 shirts.
The centres are crucial to the to any rugby side in both attack and defence and are the players that in an instance can create a chance out of nowhere as they try to break the line.
Following much thought, here is our top ten of all time at RUCK.co.uk.
10 Tana Umaga
Despite starting out as a winger, Tana Umaga developed into at one point the best centre in the world. The former All Black Skipper won 74 caps for his country between 1997 and 2005, scoring 36 tries. With his trademark dreadlocks, he was named Captain in 2004. He then went on to lead the All Blacks to a Tri-nations victory and an end of year Grand Slam tour of Europe, making a surprise retirement after the last international against Scotland.
Did you know: In the 2006 Queen’s Birthday Honours Umaga was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of his dedicated service to rugby.
9 Danie Gerber
He is the greatest centre ever to play for the Springboks; Danie Gerber had a career that was overshadowed by his unfortunate Isolation in South Africa, a by-product of Apartheid. The strong and aggressive centre had a rare mix of speed, size and agility but was also a rock solid presence in defence. His international career spanned twelve years between 1980 and 1992 with him making 24 appearances for the Springboks’, scoring 82 points. His final test came in England at Twickenham in 1992 with him finally being able to display his immense talents on English soil.
Did you know: In 2007 he was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.
8 Frank Bunce
The often underrated Frank Bunce was known globally as a hard-hitting, uncompromising tackling machine but he also knew where the try line was. The outside centre formed a formidable centre partnership with Walter Little for the All Blacks and was part of the side that reached the 1995 Rugby Cup Final where South Africa, who were the underdogs, triumphed. In total, the midfielder made 55 appearances for New Zealand, scoring 20 tries.
Did you know: From 2001 to 2003 he coached Italy.
7 Will Carling
England Captain at the age of 22 Will Carling led one of the most successful England sides in history in the early 1990s, which is a team fondly remembered particularly for his centre partnership with Jeremy Guscott. They achieved the rare feat of back-to-back Grand Slams in the Six Nations in 1991 and 1992. The side also reached the 1991 World Cup final at Twickenham, beating France in Paris and Scotland in Edinburgh en route to the final against Australia where they lost out. Carling also completed a hat-trick of Grand Slams with another triumph in 1995.
Did you know: Carling attended Sedburgh School on an army scholarship and joined up after graduating from Durham University.
6 Tim Horan
Only a handful of players has won the Rugby World Cup Twice and power-packed runner Tim Horan is one of them, triumphing in 1991 and 1999 with Australia. He made his international debut in 1989 against the All Blacks and would go on to make 80 caps, scoring 30 tries, in a impressive 11-year career.
Did you know: Horan’s father is Mike Horan, the former National Party and Liberal National Party Member of Parliament for the Queensland electorate of Toowoomba South.
5 Sonny Bill Williams
One of the stars of the modern game, Sonny Bill Williams, has achieved numerous amazing things in his sporting career. He has been a dual international and a national and international champion across different sports including rugby, league and boxing. He made his All Black debut in 2010 at Twickenham and went on to be a World Cup winner with New Zealand in 2011 and is expected to be a star once again at the upcoming 2015 competition.
Did you know: Despite being born in New Zealand, Williams is also a citizen of Samoa.
4 Scott Gibbs
Another cross-code star is powerhouse Scott Gibbs, who was a Welsh international that played for his country and Great Britain in both codes. He was named the Player of the Series against South Africa in 1997 on the Lions tour. He also scored a superb solo try in the last minute in a 32-31 win over England at Wembley to prevent Martin Johnson’s team winning the Grand Slam.
Did you know: On his return to union in 1996 it was sometimes joked that he was the fastest prop in world rugby due to his robust physique.
3 Jeremy Guscott
England and British and Irish Lions centre Jeremy Guscott possessed great pace and this coupled with his hard tackling made him one of England’s most valuable assets in the early 1990s. He burst onto the international scene with a super hat-trick and this was a sign of things to come as he went on to represent England on 65 occasions, scoring an impressive 143 points.
Did you know: Since his retirement from the game he has worked full-time as a pundit for the BBC.
2 Philippe Sella
Armed with pace, strength and great handling skills France legend Philippe Sella established himself as the world’s best centre for much of the 80’s. He made his presence felt in the France team for 13 successive campaigns between 1982 and 1995, and was never just there to make up the numbers. He scored an impressive total of 25 tries for his country and was one of only five individuals who have scored a try in every match of a Six Nations Championship. He accumulated 111 caps for Les Bleus and commanded a universal reverence from his peers and became one of France’s favourite sons.
Did you know: He was famously described by the former France coach Jacques Fouroux as having “the strength of a bull but the touch of a piano player.”
1 Brian O’Driscoll
Only one man could top this list and that is one of the most feared men to have ever played the game. The former Ireland and British and Irish Lions Skipper Brian O’Driscoll was one of the most consistent performers in the world for over a decade. He hung up his boots in 2014 after accumulating 133 caps for Ireland with a fantastic return of 245 points. In the emerald green, he triumphed in the Six Nations in 2009 (Grand Slam) and 2014 as well as being chosen as Player of the Tournament in 2006, 2007 and 2009. The Dublin-born is also the highest all-time Irish record try scorer with an incredible 46 scores, and also led his country more times than any other player.
Did you know: O’Driscoll is the most-capped player in rugby union history, having played 141 Test matches.