Our next section of the 100 best players goes from 30-21. Compiled at the end of 2017, take a look at who makes the cut
30 Dane Coles
Country New Zealand Date of Birth 10.12.86 Position Hooker
He lost only two throws when helping New Zealand win RWC 2015, but his blistering breaks were a rare sight last year as he spent months out with concussion symptoms. After scoring v France in November from a perfect out-to-in line, he damaged his ACL.
29 Billy Vunipola
Country England Date of Birth 3.11.92 Position No 8
The world’s best carrier in 2016, when he set a Six Nations record of 93, Vunipola was restricted to two Tests last year due to injury. He blends extraordinary power with soft hands, frequently occupying three defenders as he creates space for others. Paul O’Connell has called him “fit, hungry and relentless… a machine”
28 Sam Warburton
Country Wales Date of Birth 5.10.88 Position Back-row
He has led the British & Irish Lions on their last two tours, securing a win in Australia and an unexpected draw in New Zealand. Yet leadership is only one of his attributes; he’s one of rugby’s best turnover specialists, has a high work-rate and has improved his link play. A brilliant role model too.
27 Mako Vunipola
Country England Date of Birth 14.1.91 Position Prop
The starting loosehead for the Lions against the All Blacks has improved his scrummaging in the past few seasons, but his rampaging nature in open play is what sets him apart. As England scrum coach Neal Hatley said: “There aren’t many props in world rugby who can do what he does with ball in hand. His set-piece has come on immeasurably.”
26 Portia Woodman
Country New Zealand Date of Birth 12.7.91 Position Wing
It’s her ability to change direction while at full speed, often more than once, that is her most impressive asset, and she was the top try-scorer at the Women’s World Cup with 13. A consummate tackler, the World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year is stronger than her size suggests, too.