Published to coincide with the 2023 Rugby World Cup, in conjunction with Rugby World, we have taken on the task of selecting the World's greatest ever players It's customary when choosing all-time greats from a cast of thousands to say how difficult a task it is, and how you're unlikely to agree the selection in Rugby Legends. Both those statements are true, of course, and certainly we have agonised over numerous positions. Fly-halves Johnny Sexton and Adrian Stoop, a tactical innovator, played a century apart to a staggering standard, yet neither makes our list. You could make a case for a raft of excluded Springbok forwards, from Hennie Muller to Eben Etzebeth. And how about Neil Back, described once by Austin Healey as the world's best player for many years. But there are only ten slots per position, with wings, locks and centres lumped together, so something has to give. We make no apology for our choice of 120 male and ten female players, each of whom are indisputably masters of their craft. At the back, we have whittled down our legends to an ultimate XV. We hope you enjoy this tribute to the great players and gain a few insights into the skills and character.
Alan Pearey has worked in sports journalism for nearly 40 years. He covered the great Bath team of the early Nineties for the city's Evening Chronicle and has worked at Rugby World for 25 years. A qualified referee, he chairs a judging panel for the British Sports Book Awards and also worked as a statistician for ITV during RWC 2015.