Any top ten list always causes love and hate in equal measure. Those who agree with you will cite your list as well researched and very factual while those who disagree with your list will call you uninformed and biased.
If you write about football, the argument between Messi and Ronaldo will range on for years; a list of hip-hop icons will leave the Notorious B.I.G fans in blows with Tupac fans; and don’t get me started on the sexiest singers where Beyonce and Rihanna will divide the readers into two (personally I am for Queen Bey, but that’s not why we are here).
However you do it, a top ten list will always cause a rift between people. This is usually because it is mainly based on opinion. Sure there are stats to consider, but top ten lists are mainly based on opinion. With this burden in mind, I however went ahead after extensive research and came up with a list of the best rugby players at the moment. Please bear with me even where we have a different opinion and read the list to the end before you begin asking for my head.
Here I go……
He may not play for Wales in their remaining autumn internationals after an injury to his ankle following an awkward fall in their defeat against Australia. Jonathan Davies has however had a stellar season especially for the Lions that led his fellow players to award him the players’ Player of the Series. The 29 year old Scarlet centre played all six successive Test starts for the Lions on top of leading the Scarlets to Pro12 glory.
Vunipola was in incredible form before the game against Argentina back in November when he picked up an injury to his knee. This sidelined him for quite some time but he is now fit to play again. He was quite instrumental in the England’s two Six Nations titles. The Saracens number 8 is expected to play a pivotal role in the Lions’ summer games.
Murray is without a doubt the best scrumhalf in the world currently. His accuracy in goal-kicking is one of the key attributes that set the Munster and Ireland number 9 apart. His performance against the All Blacks in Westpac Stadium where he scored and helped the Lions defeat the All Blacks at home for the first time in over 6 years is quite memorable.
He led his Munster to the Pro12 final and was announced the winner of the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland best player award for his incredible year.
With his partner Sam Whitelock, their lock partnership is one for the fairy tales. Strength, skill, power and aggressiveness have come together to create a giant of a man in Retallick who has been one of the most stable performers in the elite New Zealand team.
Crowned the World Player of the Year in 2014, Retallick is hailed as the world’s best second row by many. Unfortunately, the loss of his unborn son has kept him out of the game for the better part of this year.
Smith is probably the most versatile player in the New Zealand team. He has played as a fullback, wing, fullback and center and excelled in all these positions. Smith has been compared severally to the legendary Christian Cullen thanks to his attacking ability, his range and his accuracy in defense. He has the ability to spot even the tiniest gaps in defense and exploit them with his deceptive footwork and searing pace.
Nobody will ever forget Coles’ pass to Ryan Crotty in the final play at the Aviva Stadium that broke the Irish fans heart. On account of that alone, Coles deserves a spot on this list. An injury to the head and the resulting concussion has however sidelined the All Blacks prolific hooker for quite some time this year. Considered widely as the best hooker in the world, his skills, pace, determination and spirit are unmatched. Though he plays as a number 2, his passes would put any number 12 to shame.
His handling skills have been compared to Barry John’s; his aggression compared to Martin Johnson’s; his breathtaking pace compared to Springboks’ legend Bryan Habana. At just 22, Maro Itoje is the youngest player on this list.
England’s young second row is drawing praise from friends and foes alike from his exceptional skills at the lineouts, to how he carries the ball aggressively and competes for the ball fearlessly at the breakdown. He was a crucial member of the Saracens team that won the Champions Cup last year and was named the European Player of the Year.
As the Captain of the most dominant team in world rugby, Read’s position on this list is cemented. He has been an irreplaceable member of the All Blacks team as their number 8 and was instrumental in their 2011 and 2015 World Cup winning teams, making him one of the only twenty players who have won the world cup twice.
He has been sidelined by injury in recent times but he is far from over and continues to be an integral member of the World Champions with his leadership skills being one of the major reasons for New Zealand’s success.
If anyone deserves this position, then it’s Farell. England has won two consecutive Six Nations Championships and the man behind it is Owen Farell. He has also guided his team the Saracens to consecutive Champions Cup scoring 13 points in the final.
Named the 2017 European Player of the Year, Farell excels whether he is deployed as a fly-half or as a center. Many criticized him for not producing a stellar performance during the Rugby Championship in New Zealand earlier in the year, but he is still one of the best and will certainly be looking forward to prove this during the 2019 world cup.
It would be cruel to deny him the top spot. The formidable New Zealand fly-half is indisputably the best rugby player in the world right now. He is the reigning World Player of the Year, a testament to his incredible pace and skill. Having taken over from retired All Blacks legend Dan Carter, he has filled Carter’s shoes and guided his club, the Hurricanes to last season’s championship.