Our next section of the 100 best players goes from 50 to 41. Compiled at the end of 2017, take a look at who makes the cut
50 Agustin Creevy
Country Argentina Date of Birth 15.3.85 Position Hooker
Much like Italy’s Sergio Parisse, Creevy has shouldered a heavy burden in a struggling side. Argentina beat only Georgia and Italy last year but you shudder to think what might have befallen them without their talisman, who’s just eight shy of Lisandro Arbizu’s 48-match record as Pumas captain.
“He makes them tick. He is their man,” said Dylan Hartley of Creevy. “He’s unbelievable. Everything goes through him: the scrum, carrying the ball, turning ball over in the rucks.”
As a former flanker who started a Test against Samoa at No 7, it’s no surprise that Creevy is viewed as perhaps the game’s best jackling hooker after Malcolm Marx. His upper-body strength is astonishing, enabling him to resist attempted clear-outs, wrap opponents in a bear hug or carry hard in traffic. He’s also a snarling scrummager in a Pumas side bereft of world-class prop forwards.
Age and air miles are catching up with him but he remains a defiant and physical presence on the Test circuit.
49 Rhys Webb
Country Wales Date of Birth 9.12.88 Position Scrum-half
Webb plays with a swagger, yet even his self-belief was dented when the WRU introduced a 60-cap selection rule for foreign-based players with the ink barely dry on a lucrative Toulon contract. The Lion will be sorely missed if he’s not at RWC 2019 because he’s a pest around the base, a proven match-winner and the best game manager Wales have at nine.
48 Romane Menager
Country France Date of Birth 26.7.96 Position Back-row
The openside will play in her third Six Nations next month but it was at the World Cup that she came to global attention, for she was the star player as France romped through their pool. Her all-action style sees her involved prominently in attack and defence.
47 Ben Smith
Country New Zealand Date of Birth 1.6.86 Position Full-back
For many, he’s the top full-back on the planet. “Ben’s the best on both sides of the ball,” says Jeff Wilson. He calculates risk like some sort of super-computer and invariably takes the perfect option – you can wait a long time for a Smith mistake! Despite taking a sabbatical, the quiet leader finds himself on this list for those peerless moments of rugby clarity.
46 Bernard Foley
Country Australia Date of Birth 8.9.89 Position Fly-half
The Wallaby is cut from the same cloth as Stephen Larkham, his childhood inspiration and now one of Australia’s coaches. Foley loves to play flat to the line and exploit space, either putting runners through holes or going himself.
In last year’s Rugby Championship, he made more metres than Beauden Barrett and more offloads (six) than any other ten in the competition.
A former Australia Sevens captain, he credits the shorter game with honing his basic skills. His passing is exquisite, particularly the fast, flat deliveries that give defences no time to react.
With 543 Test points, he’s Australia’s fourth-highest scorer and the 28 he got to orchestrate England’s RWC 2015 demise will live long in the memory.
His goalkicking can be flaky but he still achieved a 79% success rate off the tee in last year’s championship and was nicknamed ‘Iceman’ after landing the last-gasp kick that won the 2014 Super Rugby title for Waratahs. “I rate him one of the best,” said Quins wing Alofa Alofa, who was part of that side.