Top ten fly-halves
Next up in our series that celebrates the best international rugby players of all time is the top ten fly-halves.
The fly-half is the heartbeat and playmaker of most teams. They are therefore often the most influential player on the pitch as they coordinate the team’s performance and more often than not are the goal-kickers.
Following much thought, here is our top ten of all time at RUCK.co.uk.
10 Naas Botha
Goal-kicker Naas Botha could strike the ball with both feet and was immensely talented, however, had his international career shortened by his country’s apartheid policies. Nevertheless, he managed to establish himself as one of the all-time greats of South African Rugby, winning 28 caps for the Springboks during a 12-year international career that spanned from 1980 to 1992.
Did you know: Until Percy Montgomerie surpassed his total, Botha help the record for most points scored for South Africa.
9 Hugo Porta
Puma’s legend Hugo Porta was the face of Argentinian rugby throughout the 70s and 80s and was regarded as one of the greatest fly-halves of all time. He made his international debut against neighbours Chile in October 1971 and won three further caps against Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay that year. He won 58 caps for the Pumas, captaining them 34 times, including during the first ever Rugby World Cup in 1987.
Did you know: In September 2007 Will Carling, the renowned English Rugby Union captain included Porta among his list of top ten rugby players of all time.
8 Grant Fox
Despite not being a great player with the ball in hand the former All Black Grant Fox was one of the games greatest ever kickers in history. After impressing for Auckland, he made his Test debut in 1985 against Argentina in Buenos Aires in a 33-20 victory. It only took Fox six games to amass 100 Test match points, and two years later he won the inaugural World Cup on home soil. During the tournament, he scored 126 points from six matches finishing the tournament as the top points scorer.
Did you know: In December 2011 he was named as an All Blacks selector in Steve Hansen’s new coaching set-up.
7 Jonathan Sexton
Fly-half Jonathan Sexton exploded onto the scene when he won his first cap for Ireland against Fiji in November 2009 scoring 16 points (five conversions and two penalty goals), kicking seven out of seven. The game was played in awful weather conditions, with Sexton winning the Man of the Match with an incredibly impressive International debut. He has since gone on to amass 481 points in 51 caps, winning two six nations titles in 2014 and 2015.
Did you know: Sexton is an ambassador with Make-A-Wish Ireland since September 2009. He helps grant wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions and launches various fundraising campaigns.
6 Mark Ella
Had former Wallabies Captain Mark Ella not retired at just 25, the tactical genius had the potential to be number one on this list. The likes of Aussie legend David Campese still say that Ella was the greatest player he has ever known or seen. He only won 25 caps but embodied exceptional skill in his career between 1980 and 1984, which included him masterminding the Wallabies’ Grand Slam tour of the Untied Kingdom in his final year.
Did you know: After hanging up his boots, Ella pursued a career in media, writing articles for The Australian, The Sunday Telegraph and The Daily Telegraph as well as commentating on ABC Rugby.
5 Barry John
Barry John is widely regarded as one of the greatest fly-halves ever, but could have been placed even higher on this list if he’d not had to retire early aged 27. His partnership with Gareth Edwards was one of the most overwhelming half-back partnerships in International rugby history. Nicknamed “The King”, John went on two Lions tours, in 1968 and 1971, winning five caps while making a total 25 caps for Wales between 1966 and 1972.
Did you know: In 1997 John got inducted into the International Hall of Fame.
4 Michael Lynagh
For a decade from his debut in 1984 to his international retirement in 1995, former Wallaby Skipper Michael Lynagh was one of the most distinguishable players in World Rugby. After 72 internationals, he had set a new point-scoring record of 911, which is still an Australia record. He was an important member of the side that won the 1991 World Cup in England, but retired from International Rugby after Australia’s loss to England in the quarter-final of the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Did you know: After quitting the game he maintained close links as a TV pundit in the UK with both Sky Sports and ITV as well as working with the IRB.
3 Dan Carter
Dan Carter has established himself as one of the greatest players in history, being near faultless in every department: he can attack, break the line and kick accurately tactically or at goal. The incomparable All Blacks playmaker, Vice Captain and top points’ scorer set a new international point-scoring record during New Zealand’s triumph at the Rugby World Cup 2011. He has also won an incredible eight Tri-Nations/The Rugby Championship’s as well as a series victory over the British and Irish Lions in 2005.
Did you know: In 2008, American Cable Channel E! judged Carter to be 11th on its list of the world’s sexiest men.
2 Jonathan Davies
Cross-code star Jonathon Davies made up for his lack of height, standing 5ft 8in, with great pace, great acceleration and natural quality. The fly-half would have made a lot more appearances for Wales if he had not switched to Rugby League between 1989 and 1995. During his two periods in Union, he made a total 37 appearances for Wales and is considered one of Wales’s finest ever rugby talents.
Did you know: Davies has since become a television rugby football commentator and media personality, in both the Welsh and English languages.
1 Jonny Wilkinson
We could only have been one man as number one. Forever remembered as the man whose last-gasp drop-goal won England the Rugby World Cup by edging past the hosts in Australia in 2003. That moment is just one highlight of a record-breaking career that has seen Wilkinson rise to one of the sport’s all-time greats. England won 67 of the 91 games Wilkinson played in with him scoring an outstanding total of 1,179 points. He also holds the Rugby World Cup points record with 277.
Did you know: In 1997 he gave up the student life to become a professional rugby union player with the Newcastle Falcons.