Ever since the inaugural tournament in 1987, the Rugby World Cup has been a showcase of some of the hardest men in the world planting some of the biggest tackles on each other.
Join us as we look at ten players who will be crashing into their opposition when rugby union’s top tournament kicks off in September.
- Chris Robshaw- England
Stuart Lancaster’s England has been moulded in the image of its hard-working skipper Chris Robshaw with his tough-tackling, high intensity, approach being the fundamental style the team has tried to adopt during preparations for this year’s home World Cup. The 29-year olds big engine, and physicality around the tackle area have certainly made him a favourite among supporters, and England’s hopes of capturing the Web Ellis cup for a second time is somewhat on his shoulders.
- Bernard Le Roux- France
Tackling machine Bernard Le Roux has established himself as one of finest players of current Les Bleus crop. The 6ft 5-inch flanker plays his club rugby at Racing Metro and has picked up 16 caps for France so far with a lot more likely to come.
- Jonny Gray- Scotland
Six foot six of Scottish steel, Jonny Gray, despite being 21-years old, has proved himself to be one of the most dominant second rows in Northern Hemisphere rugby, even the world. During the 2015 RBS Six Nations Championship Gray was even listed as one of the nation’s two nominees for the player of the tournament award as he racked up an outstanding tackle count of 84, the record in the tournament. He similarly astoundingly only missed only one attempted tackle throughout the competition’s five games.
- Richard Hibbard- Wales
Welsh Hooker Richard Hibbard has accomplished everything in his international career other than winning a World Cup, having won IBS Six Nations titles as well as representing British Lions thus far. The renowned hard hitter was quoted saying “You just have to put it out there. The more you try and hit hard, the better you come off”, which is probably why he takes no prisoners with regular huge hits.
- Simone Favaro- Italy
At the age of 20 Simone Favaro became the youngest player to be named in Nick Mallett’s Italy squad for the 2009 RBS Six Nations, before going on to make his debut against Australia on the summer tour that year. He rapidly, despite his young age, gathered a reputation as being one of the hardest hitters and is very much a player you should keep an eye on at the World Cup if you love a crunching hit.
- Will Skelton- Australia
Through his size and stature, which includes having size 18 boots, powerhouse Will Skelton has left many players flat out on the ground. The powerful six foot eight 23-year old made his test debut for Australia against France on 21 June 2014, starting as the right lock and scoring the first try for the Wallabies in their 39–13 win. His offload game has also been compared to Auckland-born rugby footballer Sonny Bill Williams, implying he is more than just a big hitter.
- Jamie Cudmore- Canada
Despite being 36-years old, Canadian Jamie Cudmore is well distinguished as one of the hardest men in world rugby. He has a bit of a shadowy past – as a teenager he was an enforcer for a drug dealer in his hometown before rugby saved him and since he has not looked back. Funnily him and his wife launched a wine label named ‘Sin Bin’ with the white wine being entitled ‘yellow card’ to poke fun at the ferocious flankers imperfect discipline record.
- Nicolas Sanchez- Argentina
Despite his relatively small structure compared to some of his teammates, Los Pumas Nicolas Sanchez can plant a tackle as hard as anyone in world rugby, which is uncommonness for a Fly-half. He has already also showed his toughness in The Rugby Championship shaking off big hits from All-Blacks Sonny Bill Williams and Richie McCaw.
- Richie McCaw- New Zealand
All-Blacks Skipper Richie McCaw is well known as one of rugby’s all-time great Captains, presiding over his team with an iron fist. His brutal tackling alongside his work-rate and proficiency with the ball in hand makes him probably the best flanker in the game today. He has tasted victory 84 times in those 95 Tests for an amazing 88 per cent success rate, which is better than any other All Black.
- Schalk Burger- South Africa
In terms of big tackles and commitment, Springbok Schalk Burger is someone who comes straight to mind. The 32-year old made an incredible comeback from a life-threatening illness to play for South Africa again, which earned him the Comeback of the Year Award at the Laureus World Sports Awards. And after his involvement in The Rugby Championship we now look forward to seeing the flanker hit some whopping tackles at the World Cup.