Our next section of the 100 best players goes from 20-11. Compiled at the end of 2017, take a look at who makes the cut
20 Emily Scarratt
Country England Date of Birth 8.2.90 Position Centre
Scarratt is one of the world’s best players and is a massive part of the England set-up in both sevens and 15s. She scored the crucial try in the 2014 Women’s World Cup final as England won the title, was a vital cog in their 2017 campaign, where they lost 41-32 to New Zealand, and this year is focusing on sevens.
19 Taulupe Faletau
Country Wales Date of Birth 12.11.90 Position No 8
No player has appeared in more Tests for Wales since June 2011 than Faletau – 70 in all and 63 of those from kick-off. On top of that, he’s been picked at No 8 for the Lions’ last four Tests, usurping Jamie Heaslip for the decider against Australia in 2013 and starting all three in New Zealand last summer. Those figures are testament not only to his class but his consistency.
He may not grab headlines but the standards he sets are such that he’ll be among the top performers in every game.
The Tonga-born No 8 has incredible control at the base of the scrum, even when it’s in retreat, and he’s a rock in defence – he made more tackles (69) than any other player in the 2016 Six Nations and missed just four.
He is a powerful and clever ball-carrier, often using footwork to find a weak shoulder or exploit a gap rather than charging into contact, while his handling skills (the errors against Australia last autumn were an anomaly!) are such that Wales regularly position him out wide.
“He competes on the floor, jumps in the lineout, carries – I can’t come up with anything he can’t do,” Sam Warburton told RW back in 2014. “He ticks all the boxes of a great No 8.”
Expect Faletau to keep delivering for Wales at RWC 2019 and beyond.
18 Sam Whitelock
Country New Zealand Date of Birth 12.10.88 Position Lock
Less vaunted than some but he puts in an almighty shift. Whitelock adores hitting rucks and enjoys those carries that link phases together, but what sets him apart is his Test nous. Watch him operate in a defensive lineout and you will see a tactician at work.
Related: Super Rugby New Zealand Conference
17 Courtney Lawes
Country England Date of Birth 23.2.89 Position Lock
Even at 6ft 7in and 18st, there is plenty that’s balletic about his work in the skies for Northampton, England and the Lions. Yet what makes Lawes even more valuable is that he has the athleticism to play at six, carrying hard and covering the turf at pace as he scans the offensive line to line up his next big hit.
16 Kendra Cocksedge
Country New Zealand Date of Birth 1.7.88 Position Scrum-half
Notably absent from the Women’s Player of the Year shortlist, she is the heartbeat of the Black Ferns. She dictates whether the world champions play fast and loose or tactical and tight. She scores and creates tries – and can goalkick. Complete package.