By Paul Morgan, editor of Rugby World Magazine

The new edition of Rugby World goes on sale today with our Player and Team of the Decade announced.
But what do you think? Would you have selected a different player or different members of the team.
Does a side with 4 Kiwis, 3 Englishmen, 2 Welshmen and 2 South Africans reflect the Noughties?

HE STARTED the decade with a hat-trick in his first Six Nations Championship and finished it as one of the key reasons why Ireland went the whole of 2009 without suffering a defeat. So in the eyes of Rugby World there’s only one man who should be named Player of the Decade: Brian O’Driscoll.
The man from Blackrock College will earn his 100th Ireland cap in the coming Six Nations and more than any other has written his name large and bold across the decade that will be known as the Noughties.
Whether as captain of Ireland, Leinster or the Lions, O’Driscoll has shown exemplary form over a sustained period – form that wins him our accolade above and beyond a host of players who have left an indelible mark on our great game.
O’Driscoll may be our Player of the Decade, but he doesn’t captain our Team of the Decade. That honour falls to the captain without peer, England’s Martin Johnson.
The decade produced two World Cup winners, in England and South Africa, so naturally those teams had a number of players on our shortlist. But it isn’t all about World Cups as New Zealand managed to earn four representatives in our starting XV without even making a final.
Similarly, the rise of Argentina in this decade and Wales’ two Grand Slams had the judges scratching their heads
and working out how we could keep our team down to 15 players. A number of big names missed out, such as Lawrence Dallaglio and Neil Back, as we looked for balance in our side and the recognition of players like Sergio Parisse, who may never win a Six Nations or World Cup but should nevertheless always figure when we’re looking for legends of our game.
Full team

Mils Muliaina – New Zealand
Jason Robinson – England
Brian O’Driscoll – Ireland
Matt Giteau – Australia
Shane Williams – Wales
Dan Carter – New Zealand
Agustin Pichot – Argentina
Gethin Jenkins – Wales
John Smit – South Africa
Carl Hayman – New Zealand
Martin Johnson (c) – England
Victor Matfield – South Africa
Richard Hill – England
Richie McCaw – New Zealand
Sergio Parisse – Italy

Subs: Rodrigo Roncero, Mario Ledesma, Sylvian Marconnet, Juan-Martín Fernández Lobbe, Fourie Du Preez, Jonny Wilkinson, Yannick Jauzion, Juan Martín Hernández.

By what do you think? Name your Team and Player of the Decade and tell us why you have made your choices.

Also if you’d like to get 32% off a subscription to Rugby World Magazine go to our websites at, where we have a new offer available!

  • Ben Buddingh

    Wow, I just realized I listed three locks instead of two. Cut Matfield, my picks for Lock are O’Connell and Johnson.

  • Ben Buddingh

    Ok people,
    I’m here for a little perspective. I’m a Yankee so I don’t have any Europe vs. Southern Hemisphere bias going on. No players from my country were named and rightly so. I’m a neutral party. I know that everyone is going to say that, as an American, I know jack squat about rugby and should just stay out of it but I do play the game and I have followed these players, so I do have an informed opinion.

    First of all: Comparing BOD and McCaw as players is asinine because they play very different positions.
    You can compare their successes as captains but you can’t compare the way they play.

    From here I’m going to list my player of the decade and team of the decade without giving any opinionated reasons why. What you see is what you get.

    Player of the Decade: Brian O’Driscoll

    Team of the Decade:

    Mils Muliaina- New Zealand
    Shane Williams- Wales
    Brian O’Driscoll- Ireland
    Matt Giteau- Australia
    Bryan Habana- South Africa
    Dan Carter- New Zealand
    Fourie Du Preez- South Africa
    Andrew Sheridan- England
    John Smit- South Africa
    Carl Hayman- New Zealand
    Martin Johnson(c)- England
    Victor Matfield- South Africa
    Paul O’Connel- Ireland
    Schalk Burger- South Africa
    Richie McCaw- New Zealand
    Rodney So’oialo- New Zealand

    I’m not going to bother with subs

    On a final note I feel that, although they don’t belong on this list because their best years were in the 90s, that George Gregan and Stephen Larkham of Australia deserve some recognition because they are legends of the game and they did play most of this decade.

  • Alan Brady

    Can not help but notice no French player in this team,the form team in Europe over last ten years.One example Richard Hill great player but he was injured for most of the three years he played in this decade. Imanol Harinordoquy number 8 I know but has to get into the squad for his consistency over the last six years in this decade. I am sure we could go on on a number of other choices.

  • Echo

    O’Driscoll has got 106 caps to his name, during which he scored 38 tries, so he’s not quite as prolific as you may think. Tana Umaga actually got 36 tries in 74 tests, a much higher strike rate, although most of these were on the wing.

    Moreover, if you take the view that I do – which is a good centre is one who sets up his wings to score – then the abiding question is why aren’t there many more prolific Irish wings playing alongside O’Driscoll? Conrad Smith does that, as did players like Bruce Robertson in earlier eras, and the number of tries being scored by the likes of Sivivatu, Rokocoko and Howlett, outside him, speaks for itself.

  • Paul O’Brien

    Echo – comparing McCaw to O Driscoll is like comparing Pele with Bobby Moore. I know who I’d prefer to watch. I enjoy watching great tries and O’Driscoll has scored his fair share of those being the highest scoring centre in history, despite playing for Ireland. Name a better all black centre? The truth shall set you free my friend!!

  • Echo

    It’s all conjecture really. But O’Driscoll certainly wouldn’t ‘walk’ into an All Blacks team of any era. No player does. O’Driscoll may have an untouchable aura in Europe (Ireland especially), but McCaw has won more games under his influence than any other player during the last 10 years. You’re the one who needs to pull his head out!

  • Paul O’Brien

    Rugby Fan – good centres no doubt but the not in the same class as O Driscoll. Pull your head out of the sand buddy!

  • Rugby Fan

    Conrad Smith, Tana Umaga, Joe Stanley, Frank Bunce, Bruce Robertson, Just to name a few good centres so Paul, BOD would not walk into anyside, he is an over rated prima donna

  • Paul O’Brien

    Echo – Brian O Driscoll would walk into any kiwi team since you guys started playing rugby. Player of the decade without doubt. Keep them coming though……your hilarious!

  • Danny Boy

    Fairweatherjohn in reference to your comment about BOD ” (by the way he is considered an arrogent a-hole by quite a few irish)”

    If you lived over here you’d know that’s a load of rubbish. The guy comes across very grateful for what he’s achieved. I’ve never seen him act or give off an air of arrogance.

    No surprises for guessing what province the biggots are from that are filling your head with that nonsene. If people over here don’t like the man because of the province he plays for or the city he’s from or his accent or the school that he went to well no further comment required. Arrogant, he’s anything but !!

  • Lechón

    Está bien el equipo, déjense de joder. Yo lo pondría a Juani de titular. Y por ahí porngo a Mortlock como dijo el anterior. Y ya está.

  • Gentleman please stop this,

    These lists are generally a non starter because its opinion based. Got to laugh at the wallaby comment as the only wallaby that should be in there is Mortlock ahead of giteau lol.

    Mccaw has just been recently named IRB player of the year and imo should have gone to BOD. Can see the reason for the fallout between the 2 players and any1 could argue for either.

    Im half Irish so do lean towards BOD. Not cos im from NH but because he is pretty good at rugby(by the way he is considered an arrogant a-hole by quite a few irish).

    Who would go for Elsom above Hill. I think that is a toughy as Hill was the most influential in a WC winning team.

    BBC Scrum V have got exactly the same pack for this but backline from different planet!!

    It has Habanna instead of Shane(i agree and im Welsh 1st but as said above would have both in), Latham for Mils(disagree), Mortlock for Giteau(agree), Gregan for Pichot(close call as both legends), Rokocoko for billy whizz(see left wingers) and wait for it Wilko for Carter (lmfao)!!!!!

    Suprised aswel that Castrogiavanni doesnt get a mention on the bench in either side.

    Any thoughts guys?

  • Echo

    The Lions tour in 2005 was an unmitigated disaster from start to finish. You cannot argue that BOD continuing would have made any difference to the series result.

  • Davewa

    BOD Player of the decade, have these guys been into Aunty agnes speciail tobacco? Mc Caw 1st…..2nd daylight…..3rd…???
    and no I am not a kiwi or all blacks supporter..

    and 1 aussie WTF?? yes I am a Wallaby

  • Rugby Fan

    Covey, BOD may have been influencial in the Northern Hempishere, but this is a world team not a NH team. As to whether or not BOD was taken care of, he has still only played in 1 winning Lions side and that was against Australia, he was not in the side that recently beat South Africa

  • Covey

    What Im seeing here is a clear north/south devide in world rugby. The fact of the matter is that BOD has been the most influencial player in the northern hemisphere for the past decade. He is world class in every aspect of his game. You only had to look at how the Lions tour of 2005 crumbled when he was brutally ‘taken care of’ in the first test. Its a wonder the Lions didnt target McCaw…not as influential methinks.

  • Echo

    Oh, please.

    McCaw has been playing international matches since 2001. He won his first cap against Ireland in fact, and won Man of the Match that day (O’Driscoll was playing I believe!). If O’Driscoll had been born in NZ, he would have had to win a place first – against the likes of Mauger and Umaga at that time. People seem to forget that the reason why NZ wins so many matches is mainly because the players themselves have to compete so hard just to get into the team.

  • Echo

    Hernandez isn’t the best flyhalf in the world, and I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. The reason why the All Blacks win so many matches is not because of some mystical spell they cast every time they play – it’s because of the players they have.

  • CM

    Of course O’Driscoll is the player of the decade. Whereas McCaw has been the best player in the world over the last 3 to 4 years, when he was awarded newcomer of the year in 2002 O’Driscoll was already an international force having come onto the scene 2 years previous and having an outstanding Lions tour in 2001. I am always amused when people from NZ (who I absolutely love by the way) start talking about everything they have won as a nation when you are talking about individual players. If O’Driscoll had been born a kiwi his trophy cabinet would have exactly the same silverware as McCaw’s. Sayinf O’Driscoll would’nt make the team is just silly when you consider the No.13s that have been there in the last 10 years. Good players but nowhere close to the calibre of O’Driscoll. You have to remember that O’Driscoll spent most of his career as part of a mediocre Irish side and had to do his own creating and a hell of a lot of defending.

  • Seb

    The number of Argies (Parisse was born there too) reflects that they are probably better individuals than a team as a whole ?
    Pichot over Du preez ?
    Juan Fernandez lobbe has been excellent in the last 2 years, but leaving players like Burger and Juan SMith from South africa or Soialo from NZ is a real nonsense
    if you consider the last decade
    Well at the end of the day they want to sell magazines in the UK, and controversy always sells !!

  • Rugby Fan

    6 players born in Argentina, you would think they would have had a better test record in the decade then. I do believe they lost all 7 tests they played against South Africa and lost the 4 they played against the All Blacks. I would back Carter against Hernandez any day of the week

  • Javier

    Do you notice that 6 of 23 players are born in Argentina?

  • Pablo Baez Bermudez

    Wrong opinion ECHO, this evaluation o categorizing is about the quality of the players not about the titles, do you really think what juan martin hernandez is not the best number 10 of the world? think again and tell me man

  • Echo

    He’d have to get into the team first!

  • Echo

    The All Blacks got two Grand Slams, a Lions whitewash, six Tri-Nations trophies, a record undefeated run at home, by far the best winning ration of any team (in fact, one of the best in history), scored the most tries by a bucket load and played the most attractive rugby.

    They didn’t win the World Cup, true, but this is a bias selection in favour of Northern Hemisphere teams – including players from teams that barely made it out of their respective World Cup pools…

    The case for Argentinean players is overstated too.

  • harris22

    any player is made look good in the all blacks what would o driscol have achieved if he played with the players mcCaw has

  • Rugby Fan

    I know this is a UK based Magazine, but I have to diaagree with BOD being named player of the decade sure he had a couple of good games, but has played in 8 losing sides against the All Blacks 7 with Ireland 1 with The B&I Lions. His influence over a game is not the same as Richie McCaws, who should have been the true player of the decade

  • Binso

    Would love to know what format was used to decide this list? Some very odd choices, seems more an exercise in trying to pick a team that will draw the least amount of controversy and keep most people happy.

  • Curate’s Egg

    You’ll never get everyone to agree with you on an exercise like this. Picking Robinson as a winger on your team of the decade is odd though. England’s success came through the pack and Wilkinson. There are many other people who would have a shout for wing but, for me, Habana would have to get the nod, even if that means having two left wingers. Not sure Pichot was the scrum half of the decade (although I understand your desire to include an Argie). Definitely sure Richard Hill was not the blindside of the decade – he only played a few years of the decade!

  • While I agree with most of your team of the decade I cannot understand Stephen Jones of the Sunday Times’ piece in Rugby World re a choice of the current world’s top players. Not only does O’Driscoll not appear in the top three but isn’t in his top 10!! (and we Irish believe he should have been chosen as the IRB player of the year ahead of Richie McCaw having captained Ireland to the Slam, the team remaining unbeaten throughout 09, his key role in Leinster’s Heineken Cup win, performance with the Lions and 6 tries and 1 drop goal during the 6 nations – what does he have to do?). Simon Shaw is ubderrated but ahead of Paul O’connell?! I think not. And what about Brussow, Elsom and Habana? Jonny was bonny but now past his sell by date. No I’m afraid there is only 1 Stephen Jones who knows a bit about rugby and he’s the Welsh fly half!!