The 50 best rugby players in the world 2009

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

The Top 50 list is back for another year with the star performances of 2009 forming the basis for our rankings.

Click here or the image above to launch our guide to the 50 best rugby players in the world.

Once again the IRB's choice doesn't take the No.1 slot in our list. Richie McCaw has had a good year, but not outstanding by his high benchmark. Outstanding is certainly something you can say of the 12 months Brian O'Driscoll has had.

The Irish captain sits in pole position after leading - sometimes dragging - Ireland to their first Grand Slam since 1948, lifting the Heineken Cup at last with Leinster and having an outstanding tour with the luckless 2009 British and Irish Lions. He still had enough in the tank to play a key role in Ireland's impressive Autumn series as well.

There are some who have slipped from view - Shane Williams and John Smit to name just two to miss out this year - who fall foul of a loss of form and the emergence of other shining talents such as Tommy Bowe and Schalk Brits.

There are fewer front rowers in this year's list, a sign of the mess that the scrum has become in 2009 with world class exponents of the dark arts of the coalface spending more time face down in the mud than displaying their wares. And the breakdown debate has also had an influence. There are three back row players in our top ten - McCaw, Heinrich Brussow and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe - who have exploited the laws as they stand to shine this year.

As with last year, it is never easy to assess the merits of a second row against those of a fly-half when trying to sort these players into some sort of order, and so it comes down to the impact a player has had in the role he is asked to perform. It is on that basis that we give you our best 50 players of the year, and retreat to lay down in a darkened room.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave