The 50 best rugby players in the world 2009
Friday 18 December 2009
The Top 50 list is back for another year with the star performances of 2009 forming the basis for our rankings.
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.
The Microsoft mogul told fans a few home truths during his Reddit AMA
First full-length look is finally here
Brooklyn Beckham poses in Arsenal training kit following rumours of signing for the Gunners
Manchester United transfer news and rumours: David De Gea could leave for FREE; £38m for Marquinhos; £37m bid for Mats Hummels;
Transfer talk: Juan Cuadrado Chelsea move imminent; Manchester United eye Nathaniel Clyne; Andre Schurrle medical at Wolfsburg
Danny Ings to Liverpool: The Reds attempt to steal a march on rivals in race to sign Burnley striker
Kim Sears 'swearing' outburst threatens to overshadow Andy Murray's Australian Open semi-final win
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures