World’s greatest ever XV: The best ever rugby team in pictures

9. Gareth Edwards (Wales)

The former Wales and British and Irish Lions scrum-half is simply the greatest player in his position in history. Edwards is also considered by many to be one of the greatest rugby players of all time.

He was notorious for his pace but also had an unexpected strength for a leaner player. He made 53 caps for Wales as well as making ten appearances for the British & Irish Lions, featuring on tours in 1968, 1971 and 1974.

The second tour, to New Zealand, is still the only victorious Lions tour to the Land of the Long White Cloud. During the third, to South Africa in 1974, was the greatest ever Lions jaunt, in which the tourists played 22 matches and remained unbeaten.

Did you know: In 2004 a statue of Gareth Edwards was erected in the St David’s Shopping Centre in Cardiff, as a memorial to his magnificent play for the country.
Honourable mentions: Joost van der Westhuizen (South Africa), George Gregan (Australia)

1. Jason Leonard (England)

 Leonard was 21 when he debuted in 1990, the first of what would become a record 119 caps for both England and the British & Irish Lions.

He is still the most capped player in World Cup history with 22 appearances in four tournaments.

He was both durable – he once played 40 consecutive Tests in the 1990s – and versatile as proven by his switch from loosehead to tighthead prop later in his career.

He was a member of the team that lost the World Cup final to Australia in 1991 but gained revenge against the same opponents 12 years later in the final in Sydney.

Did you know: His lengthy career straddled both the amateur and professional eras and he had a job as a carpenter.
Honourable mentions: Os du Randt (South Africa), Rodrigo Roncero (Argentina), Steve McDowell (New Zealand)

2. Keith Wood (Ireland) 

The force of nature Wood was a dominant figure in the Irish front row.

Wood made his international debut in 1994 against Australia and was capped 58 times for Ireland up until his retirement in 2003.

He played on the 1997 and 2001 Lions tours and was the inaugural winner of the IRB World Player of the Year award in 2001, seeing off competition from the likes of Geroge Gregan and Jonny Wilkinson.

Did you know: Wood now works for the BBC and The Daily Telegraph as a freelance journalist.
Honourable mentions: Sean Fitzpatrick (New Zealand), John Smit (South Africa), Mario Ledesma (Argentina)

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