The 12th installment of my Greatest Ever series is here!
In this series I will look at the greatest talents to grace various sports. This time I continue to look at Rugby Union, and, following my "Top Five No. 8s of All Time", I will look at the top five players ever to play at Scrum Half.
As the main link between the forwards and the backs, scrum halves are rarely out of the game for long. They are there at every scrum, line-out, ruck and maul, either commanding their forwards to pick and drive, or flinging the ball out to start a move in the backs.
So, without further ado, lets get into the list:
5. Matt Dawson (ENG) - England's most capped scrum-half, Matt Dawson is one of only two players (the other is Lawrence Dallaglio) to have won World Cups in both the 15 and 7-a-side forms of Rugby Union.
The 2003 World Cup was the highlight of his 77 England caps, as he made the pass from which Jonny Wilkinson scored the winning drop-goal in the final. His famous sniping runs and intelligent rugby brain won him seven British and Irish Lions caps over three tours.
His 16 tries for England make him their ninth highest try scorer of all time.
4. Nick Farr-Jones (AUS) - Australia captain for four years, Nick Farr-Jones led his country to success in the 1991 World Cup, and victory over both New Zealand and South Africa in 1992.
He played 63 test matches for the Wallabies, 36 of which were as captain, and scored nine tries. His partnership with Michael Lynagh was formidable and they once held the world record half-back combination of 47 tests played together.
3. George Gregan (AUS) - With 139 Australia appearances to his name, George Gregan is the most capped player in international rugby history. He has also played more matches as captain of Australia than any other player, passing John Eales' total back in 2006.
Gregan has shared a fantastic half-back relationship with Stephen Larkham, bypassing Nick Farr-Jones and Michael Lynagh's record of 47 tests and going on to win 79 test caps together. This remains a record today.
Since 1994, Gregan had been an almost automatic pick for Australia, helping his team to Rugby World Cup success in 1999, as well as a final in 2003.
2. Joost van der Westhuizen (RSA) (pictured) - A talismanic, inspirational and unforgiving player, no-one enjoyed playing against van der Westhuizen. He was quick but incredibly strong, and a heroic defender. He was part of the successful 1995 South Africa World Cup squad, where he really burst on to the scene as a force to be reckoned with.
When he retired in 2003, he was the most capped player in South Africa's history with 89 (a record that has since been surpassed by Percy Montgomerie), and the highest try-scorer in their history as well, with 38 tries (a record which still remains.) That try tally also makes him the highest try-scoring scrum-half in test rugby history.
In 2007, van der Westhuizen was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.
1. Gareth Edwards (WAL) - Quite simply, a genius. Probably the greatest player to have ever played the game, Edwards was a pivotal part of the Welsh team that dominated the late 60s and throughout the 70s.
He won 53 caps for Wales, scoring 88 points, and he also won ten caps for the Lions, in their successful 1971 Tour to New Zealand and the undefeated 1974 Tour to South Africa.
Not only is he the greatest scrum half ever, and perhaps the greatest player ever, but he finished off the greatest try ever. He quite simply was a magician on the rugby pitch, and will forever be remembered by Wales and rugby fans alike, as the greatest scrum half of all time.
Coming soon—The Top 10 Fly-Halves of All Time!
Other articles from this series include: