We want you to help decide who has been the best coach in rugby union over the past 60 years


Who is the greatest ever rugby coach?

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Rugby World magazine and we want to reflect on the key movers and shakers in the sport over the past six decades.

That includes determining the greatest ever rugby coach – and we want you to help us do it.

We’ve created a ‘bracket’ listing the best of the best when it comes to coaching since 1960 and each day over the next four-and-a-half weeks we will ask you to vote for your favourite in a series of head-to-heads until we are left with just one man standing.


The criteria for this is that those in the running have to have coached at men’s international 15s level since 1960. Most were the head coach but we have included a few assistants because of the significance of their influence.

With World Cup winners and Lions series winners, there are plenty of tough choices ahead.

See below for a rundown of each of the 32 contenders and vote in the latest Twitter poll here…

 Clive Woodward – 2003 World Cup-winning coach who guided England to three Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam in 2003.

greatest ever rugby coach

Golden moment: Clive Woodward lifts the Webb Ellis Cup in 2003 (Getty Images)

Marcelo Loffreda – In charge of Argentina from 2000-07, guiding the Pumas to a historical third-place finish at RWC 2007.

Brian Lochore – The former All Black, who died last year, was in charge of New Zealand when they lifted the inaugural World Cup in 1987.

Syd Millar – British & Irish Lions coach for their undefeated tour of South Africa in 1974. He also guided Ireland to a Five Nations title in 1974.

Bob Dwyer – At the helm for Australia’s first World Cup triumph in 1991 and had spells in the Premiership with Leicester and Bristol.

Pat Lam – Led Connacht to a stunning Pro12 title in 2016 and now enjoying success at Bristol. He’s also worked with Scotland, Samoa and the Pacific Islanders.

Joe Schmidt – Masterminded Ireland’s first-ever win over New Zealand and took them to a Grand Slam in 2018. Achieved back-to-back European Cups with Leinster.

Jim Telfer – In the Scotland set-up for two Grand Slams (1984 – head, 1990 – assistant) and forwards coach on the victorious Lions tour to SA in 1997.

Steve Hansen – Assistant coach when New Zealand won the 2011 World Cup and head man when they successfully defended the title in 2015.

greatest ever rugby coach

Coaching talk: Steve Hansen and Michael Cheika before a New Zealand v Australia match (Getty Images)

Michael Cheika – Took Leinster to their first Heineken Cup title in 2009 and steered Australia to the RWC 2015 final only a year after taking the reins.

Ian McGeechan – In charge when Scotland won the 1990 Grand Slam and is a Lions legend, overseeing their series wins in 1989 and 1997.

Jamie Joseph – Guided the Highlanders to their first Super Rugby title in 2015 and Japan to the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 2019.

Eddie Jones –RWC runner-up with Australia in 2003 and England in 2019 (also a Slam in 2016), and 2007 winner with SA (assistant). Masterminded Japan’s 2015 win over SA.

Fred Allen – Enjoyed a victorious run as All Blacks coach, winning all 14 Tests in charge in the late 1960s, and inspired breathtaking rugby.

Jake White – Won the 2004 Tri-Nations and 2007 World Cup with South Africa before taking on various club coaching roles.

Guy Noves – Built a dynasty at Toulouse, winning four Heineken Cups and nine French titles in his 22-year reign before becoming France coach in 2016.

Rassie Erasmus – Took over as South Africa coach in March 2018 and 18 months later had guided them to World Cup glory. Lots of club experience too.

greatest ever rugby coach

Bok boss: Rassie Erasmus with the World Cup after South Africa’s 2019 triumph (Getty Images)

Jack Rowell – At the helm of Bath during their golden era, then guided England to back-to-back Six Nations titles in the mid-Nineties.

Carwyn James – Beat the All Blacks as coach of the British & Irish Lions (1971 – the only series win in NZ), Llanelli (1972) and the Barbarians (1973).

Bernard Laporte – Took Stade Francais from the third division to French champions in three years and won four Six Nations with France in the 2000s.

Warren Gatland – Three Grand Slams as Wales coach, a Lions series win in Australia and draw in New Zealand. Plus numerous titles with Wasps.

Nick Mallett – Springboks coach when they won a record 17 consecutive Tests (1997-98). Coached the Barbarians to wins over NZ and SA.

Kitch Christie – Steered the Springboks to their inaugural World Cup win in 1995 after lifting back-to-back Currie Cups and the Super 10 with Transvaal.

Clive Rowlands – Took charge of Wales aged just 30 in 1968 and oversaw a successful period for the national team, including the 1971 Grand Slam.

Jacques Fouroux – During his reign as France coach from 1981-90, they won six Five Nations titles (three outright) and were RWC 1987 runners-up.

greatest ever rugby coach

Man in the middle: Jacques Fouroux takes a France training session (Getty Images)

Geoff Cooke – Appointed England coach when they were at a low ebb, they won back-to-back Slams in 1991 and 1992 and finished second at RWC 1991.

Wayne Smith – Hailed by players for his work as All Blacks assistant coach, he was in the set-up for the 2011 and 2015 World Cup triumphs.

Declan Kidney – Won two Heineken Cups and a Celtic League with Munster and the 2009 Six Nations Grand Slam with Ireland – their first in 61 years.

Rod Macqueen – At the helm of Australia from 1997 to 2001, when they won the 1999 World Cup, the 2000 Tri-Nations and beat the 2001 Lions.

Shaun Edwards – Famed for his abilities as a defence coach, he helped Wasps to myriad trophies and Wales to four Six Nations titles.

Graham Henry – Guided Wales to 11 straight wins in 1999 and became All Blacks coach in late 2003, taking them to a first RWC win in 24 years in 2011.

Alan Jones – In charge of the Wallabies’ 1984 ‘Grand Slam’ tour of England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland as well as the 1986 win over NZ at Eden Park.

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