Gas, wheels, juice, call it what you want. Speed is an ever more essential commodity for today's players but who are the fastest men in rugby? We caught up with Christian Wade at the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens for his top picks...


It’s a question posed in every clubhouse, watering hole or playing field in the land. Who are the fastest men in world rugby? The players who leave others clasping at thin air. Well, we asked Christian Wade, no slouch himself, who the fastest men he’s seen on the rugby field are…

Carlin Isles

“Man, Carlin has to be the fastest across the turf. I think he’s been clocked at 10.18secs over 100, plus he’s straight off the track. I caught him when he was over for the World Club Sevens last year and since then we’ve had a few conversations on Twitter. He seems like a good guy. I’ll be watching his progress at Glasgow now he’s crossed to the 15-a-side code.”

Tadzuka Ngwenya

“It’s a shame Biarritz are going down, but Ngwenya has unbelievable wheels. It’s not just straight out speed though, he has good footwork and a lovely left-foot step. It’s like you know it’s coming but you can’t stop it. The way he smoked Bryan Habana playing for USA against the Springboks in 2007 was incredible, he backed himself. He did the same to Shane Williams gassing up the touchline for Biarritz against the Ospreys in 2008. Those are two serious scalps to have.”

Shane Williams

“In his pomp, Shane was virtually untouchable. He scored 59 tries at Test level, which is quite ridiculous. He was at his peak in 2008 where he won IRB Player of the Year, and after a great Six Nations, I remember seeing him score a try against South Africa, where picked up the ball up went down the touchline and turned the Springbok defence inside out before scoring in the corner. He had such good feet, a great player.”

John Bentley

“When people ask me about electrifying wingers, my earliest memories were of John Bentley on the 1997 Lions tour to South Africa, he was tearing up! That individual try he scored against Gauteng was incredible. He slalomed his way past about half the side and went under the posts. He was very strong but he had superb evasive skills and the top end speed to finish. He had naughty wheels!”

Charles Piutau

“There are so many Southern Hemisphere speed merchants, you could go for Zac Guildford or Jonah Lomu, who could run a sub-11 second 100m but I’ll got for a player seen in the flesh, so it’s Charles Piutau, who plays on the wing or full-back for the Auckland Blues. I saw him out in Treviso for the Junior World Championship playing against Ireland and he pulled out some crazy skills, he can do anything on the pitch!”

Christian Wade was speaking on behalf of HSBC at the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens. For more information visit

HSBC are also running Rugby Festivals around the world and we were with them when they took the game to the favelas of Brazil. Find out more in the latest issue of Rugby World