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Inside the 22

England’s Top 5 Greatest Rugby Players of All Time

Despite only winning the Rugby World Cup once, England has seen some of the world’s most incredible players don the famous red and white shirt over the years. Here is our rundown of the top 5 greatest England rugby players of all time. Who do you think will come out on top?


5. Wavell Wakefield

A truly inspirational captain, Wakefield led the English side to Grand Slam wins in both 1923 and 1924. 

A pillar of the back row through most of the 1920s, for Harlequins as well as England, he is famed for reinventing the flanker position, which previously had been a static position. 

Wakefield made a total of 31 appearances for England, 13 as captain and though he retired from Rugby in 1930, he stayed involved with the sport becoming RFU President in 1950.

4. Rory Underwood

With three World Cups and two Lions tours under his belt, it comes as no surprise that Rory Underwood is one of England’s most capped players. He also holds the record of England’s all-time record try-scorer with 49 trys won between 1984 and 1996.

A lightning-quick and prolific winger, in his later years he played on the opposite wing to younger brother Tony. They were the first set of brothers to represent England since 1937.

3. Lawrence Dallaglio 

Lawrence Dallaglio was a linchpin of the England team during the nations most successful era, including the World Cup win in 2003.

Playing in all three positions on the back row, he achieved 85 caps for England, 22 as captain. He is also one of a very small number of players who has won both the Rugby World Cup and the Sevens World Cup. 

In 2016, he was inducted in the World Rugby Hall of Fame alongside England teammate Johny Wilkinson.

2.  Will Carling

England’s most capped captain of all time, Carling’s honours include the 1991 Grand Slam Five Nations win and getting England to the 1991 World Cup Final. He was only 22 when he was first appointed England captain.

Carling was a fan favourite, with his speed and accuracy at centre playing a huge role in the team’s success at the time.

1. Jonny Wilkinson

England’s youngest cap for 71 years, Wilkinson debuted for England at just 18 years of age in 1998. Initially an inside-centre he moved to the No. 10 shirt 2 years later.

A professional through and through, he won 91 caps for England and is the nations top point scorer of all time. He was a pivotal figure in the 2003 World Cup-winning team, securing a drop goal in the last minute of extra time against Australia. 

It was Wilkinson’s kicking that propelled him to the highest level, but he also possessed exceptional game management skills and was a ferocious defender. 

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