Top 10 Flankers of all-time
Although the flanker’s possibly have the least main responsibilities on the pitch that means they have to be phenomenal all-rounders both in attack and in defence.
Despite at times being under appreciated some of the greatest player’s of all-time have played the position, here is RUCK honouring our top ten.
10. Michael Hooper
After Michael Hooper impressed for Australia at the Junior World Championships in 2011, the young star made his Australia debut in 2012. Hooper played in all of the Wallabies Test games in 2013, winning the John Eales Medal as ‘Wallabies player of the year’. The next year following a season-ending injury to Stephen Moore, the flanker became Wallabies Captain aged 22, which made him the youngest Test captain since 1967. Having established himself as probably the second best flanker in world rugby, behind All Black Richie McCaw, Hooper is set to light up the World Cup in 2015.
Did you know: In 2013, Hooper played every Waratahs Super Rugby game in the season. He also won the Australian Super 15 player of the year award, as well as the Waratahs player of the year award.
9. Ian Kirkpatrick
Former All Black’s Skipper Ian Kirkpatrick was a great leader who was well known for his terrific forward play. He also had a knack for scoring tries as he touched down 16 times for New Zealand. The dynamic flanker in total earned 39 caps for his country, nine of which came as captain.
Did you know: His domestic career was extensive, and he scored 115 tries in his 289 first class games, becoming one of the few forwards to reach the century.
8. Finlay Calder
Former British and Irish Lions and Scotland Captain Finlay Calder led the side on the tour of Australia in 1989. As well as driving his troops verbally and controlling the direction of his side Calder’s steely gaze rebuffed any attempt from the hosts to unsettle his men. The team went on to become the only Lions team ever to come from 1–0 down to win a series. His last international game was against New Zealand in the 1991 Rugby World Cup.
Did you know: His twin brother Jim Calder also played for Scotland and the Lions, but never at the same time.
7. Simon Poidevin
Australia idol Simon Poidevin’s finest hour came when he played a key role in Australia’s 12-6 victory over England in the World Cup Final in 1991. The match turned out to be his final appearance for the national side. He made his debut for the Wallabies against Fiji in March 1980 accumulating 59 caps for the national side becoming the first Australian to play 50 Tests in the process.
Did you know: In 2011 Poidevin was honoured by the ARU and named a Wallabies Statesman.
6. George Smith
Although George Smith bowed out of international rugby following a heavy defeat to the British and Irish Lions the flanker wrote his name into history with a star-studded career. The consistent performer was capped by the Wallabies 111 times over a decade, making him the highest capped forward of all time, overtaking the legendary John Eales.
Did you know: He was easily recognised on the field by his dreadlocked hairstyle until late 2006, when he decided to sell his dreadlocks for charity.
5. Francois Pienaar
Springbok Captain Francois Pienaar is famous for leading South Africa to triumph in the World Cup in 1995. Despite only making 29 Caps, each was as Captain, and he showed to the world his considerable rugby skills. Not only did Pienaar’s side topple a heavily fancied All Blacks team in front of an expectant South Africa population, but they also managed in their small way to bring together South Africa’s post-apartheid society
Did you know: After being dropped from the Springbok team Pienaar went on to have a career with English club Saracens.
4. Jean-Pierre Rives
French rugby has had many iconic figures, but Jean- Pierre Rives has forever stood out and not only because of his blond hair. The former Captain led the team 34 times and exemplified the team’s essence of risk-taking and unpredictability. Despite being considered small for a flanker of his time, he made 59 appearances in his nine-year international career.
Did you know: Following his retirement from rugby Rives chose to take a path less trodden by sportsmen, becoming a sculptor and artist.
3. Richard Hill
England legend Richard Hill was part of the much-celebrated trio of himself, Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio that took England to Rugby World Cup glory in 2003 under Clive Woodward. Strong tackling and fantastic support play were what distinguished him as one of finest flankers of not just his generation but all time.
Did you know: He was the only player that was never dropped during Sir Clive Woodward’s England tenure
2. Michael Jones
Nicknamed “the Iceman” for his cool, free-flowing displays, Michael Jones enjoyed an international career that spanned 11-year. Due to injuries and his Christian beliefs, which meant he refused to play on Sundays, he only won 55 Test caps. He holds many distinctions, but perhaps the biggest is that he was the first ever player to score a try in a Rugby World Cup.
Did you know: Jones has been a positive role model, particularly for Pacific Islander youth in New Zealand, and in 1990 he received a New Zealand Medal for service to the Pacific Island community.
1. Richie McCaw
The All Black Captain Richie McCaw is one of the true rugby greats, molding a career as the best flanker of all time. The 34-year old led the All Blacks to Rugby World Cup glory in 2011 and claimed the International Rugby Board’s Player of the Year award on a record three occasions (2006, 2009. 2010). He became the first All Black to reach 100 Tests in 2011. Then by the end of the 2014 season; he had played 137 Tests (coming off the bench just six times) and was Captain in 100 Tests.
Did you know: In April 2011, McCaw received an invitation to the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. However, as McCaw had only recently returned from his injury, he decided to decline the offer, preferring to focus on Super Rugby and the Rugby World Cup.