Greatest Ever: Rugby Union: Top Ten Wingers Of All Time

Barney Corkhill@@BarneyCorkhillSenior Writer IAugust 14, 2008

The 15th 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 Ten Centres of All Time", I will look at the top ten players ever to play on the wings.

This was another tough one to narrow down to just ten. Wingers are often the main attacking threat and top try scorers in the team. Often either big and strong or exceptionally fast, or sometimes even both, a great winger on his day can be incredibly difficult to stop.


10. Shane Williams (WAL) - The little Welsh magician just makes it in at number ten. He defied all the odds when he first came onto the international scene, with claims that he was too small. At just 5'7 and 11 stone the claims weren't completely unfounded.

However, Williams let his feet do the talking, and his deceptive running, fantastic side-step and sheer speed have elevated him to hero status in Wales. In 58 caps for them he has become his country's top try scorer ever, chalking up 215 points in the process.

He has appeared in one British and Irish Lions test on the 2005 tour to New Zealand.


9. Gerald Davies (WAL) - Originally a centre, when Davies was switched out to the wing he quickly established himself as a Welsh rugby great. He was a key part of the all-conquering Welsh Rugby side of the 70s.

In 46 tests, Davies managed to score 20 tries for Wales. He was also part of two Lions tours, in 1968 and 1971. More recently he has been named manager of the Lions team that will tour South Africa in 2009.


8. Jason Robinson (ENG) - He was known as "Billy Whizz" for his incredible pace and for his trademark sidestep. One on one, Robinson is as good as anyone. He is one of few players to have excelled in both Rugby Union and Rugby League.

In his 56 test matches in an England shirt, he scored 30 tries, including the only try in the 2003 World Cup final, which England would go on to win. He has been selected for two Lions tours, winning five caps and scoring two tries.


7. Joe Rokocoko (NZ) - I am a huge fan of Rokocoko's. He is one in a line of ridiculously good All Black wingers. His strength and speed have helped him to a fantastic 43 tries in 48 tests so far, including 25 in his first 20.

He scored 17 tries in one year once, breaking the New Zealand record. Aptly nicknamed "the rocket man", he has been terrorizing defences for five years now, including the England defence every time he has come up against them.


6. Doug Howlett (NZ) - To be New Zealand's highest ever try scorer considering some of the players they have had, you have to be good. And Doug Howlett is good. His 49 tries for the All Blacks in just 62 tests remains a record.

Now plying his trade at Munster, it really says something about New Zealand's strength and depth that sometimes Howlett and Rokocoko struggled to get into the team.


5. Daisuke Ohata (JAP) - Yes the first Japanese in this countdown! Perhaps not as well known as he should be, Ohata is the leading try scorer in international rugby history.

He has also done this in phenomenal style, scoring his world record 69 tries in a miraculous 58 tests. Had these figures been against higher class opposition, Ohata would probably make it to No. 1 on this list.


4. Rory Underwood (ENG) - England's record ever try scorer with 49 tries, if you count his one try for the Lions then Underwood is the third highest try scoring player in international rugby history.

His 85 international caps (then an England record) included three World Cups, including helping England to the 1991 World Cup final. He was also selected for two Lions tours, winning six caps in the process.


3. Jeff Wilson (NZ) - The super-athlete, Jeff Wilson had it all. He was strong, fast, agile and a deadly finisher. He is sixth in the all-time list of try-scorers (44), and third in the All Blacks list.

His 44 tries came in 60 test appearances, and he scored 234 points for New Zealand, adding three penalties, a conversion and a drop-goal to his 44 tries. Not only did he represent his country but he also represented them at Cricket, displaying his fantastic all-round sporting talent.


2. Jonah Lomu (NZ) (pictured) - Lomu was a phenomenon. Never before and never since has someone had such a big impact on the game of rugby. He burst onto the scene as a truly spectacular physical specimen. A man as tall as most second-rows, as heavy as most props and faster than most wingers.

A 20 stone man who could run the 100 metres in 10.89 seconds. We had never seen anything like it. If he couldn't run past you, which he normally always could, he would just go through you, failing that, his hand-off was one of the finest ever seen in rugby history.

In his first training session with the All Blacks, Zinzan Brooke went in for a big tackle, just to be brushed aside by Lomu. He became the youngest New Zealand test player ever and went onto score 37 tries in 63 appearances. The main reason it wasn't higher was because whenever he got the ball teams adapted just for him and doubled or even trebled up on him.

Still, sometimes even this didn't work, as in 1995 when he scored four tries against England in the World Cup semi-final, including famously running over and through fullback Mike Catt, a man who isn't exactly a dodgy defender.


1. David Campese (AUS) - Yes, he was sometimes prone to mistakes, but his moments of brilliance far outweighed this. In his 101 Australia caps he amassed 64 tries, which was at the time an international rugby record, but is now second in the all-time list.

Love him or hate him, Campese was such a danger to all defences he faced. He was the equal top try scorer in Australia's victorious 1991 World Cup campaign. He was subsequently named man of the tournament.

Such was his quality that he has been called the Pele of rugby, the Maradona of rugby and the Don Bradman of rugby.

Campese is my greatest winger of all time!


Coming soon - Top 10 Fullbacks of All Time.



Other articles from this series include:

Top Three Loose Head Props of All Time

Top Three Hookers of All Time

Top Three Tight Head Props of All Time

Top 10 Second Rows of All Time

Top 10 Flankers of All Time

Top Five No. 8s of All Time

Top Five Scrum Halves of All Time

Top Ten Fly Halves of All Time

Top Ten Centres of All Time


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