Who is at the top of the list?

The top ten best women’s rugby players is a difficult list to compile. There are many stars in the game who are currently playing and who have retired that undoubtedly deserve a place on the list.

But here at Rugby World, we have taken a shot at putting together a top ten of those who have graced the pitch. Read the list below.

Read more: Rugby’s all-time greatest women’s XV

Top ten best women’s rugby players

10. Gabrielle Vernier

The French centre is still playing the game and having an impact on any team she is a part of. She was named the 2023 Women’s Six Nations Player of the Tournament. She scored five tries and played every single minute of the campaign. France lost out on a Grand Slam title with a loss to England in the final round.

Vernier, who is also known for her gainline ability, was also part of France 2021 Rugby World Cup squad who reached the semi-finals.

9. Liza Burgess

The former Wales lock was a stalwart for her country, winning 87 caps and skippering her team for 62 of them. Burgess was named in the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2018 for her efforts as a player.

She represented Wales at four Rugby World Cups before retiring in 2007 at the end of the Women’s Six Nations.

8. Maggie Alphonsi

The ex-England flanker will be best known for winning the Rugby World Cup in 2014 but she has other achievements to her name. She was a part of the squad who won the Women’s Six Nations seven times in a row, six of which were Grand Slam victories.

In 2011 she won the the Pat Marshall award from the Rugby Union Writers’ Club becoming the first woman to do so in the club’s 50-year history.

Best women's rugby players

Maggie Alphonsi running with the ball (Getty Images)

7. Gill Burns

Former England number eight Gill Burns is a pioneer in the women’s game. She was represented England in four Rugby World Cup’s including the women’s inaugural tournament in 1991. She also captained England to Rugby World Cup glory in 1994.

Burns played for Firwood Waterloo throughout her career and represented the club more than 250 times. She was awarded an MBE in 2005 for her services to sport.

6. Ruby Tui

New Zealand’s versatile back Ruby Tui has made a name for herself in both the sevens and 15s game. She won the Olympic gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Games before switching back to 15s to win the 2021 Rugby World Cup.

She was instrumental to both medal successes and is a role model to the next generation.

5. Emily Scarratt

England centre Emily Scarratt is the women’s side’s top point scorer and continues to add to her tally. She won the Rugby World Cup in 2014 and has amassed over 100 caps for her country.

Scarratt has won eight Women’s Six Nations titles, won World Rugby’s Women’s Player of the Year in 2019 and was named Women’s Six Nations Player of the Tournament in 2020.

4. Vanessa Cootes

The former New Zealand wing was key to the team’s first Women’s Rugby World Cup win in 1998. In the final the team played the USA with New Zealand scoring eight tries to win 44-12. Cootes scored four of the eight tries in the final.

She was also a part of the Black Ferns team who defended their Rugby World Cup title in 2002.

3. Jessy Tremouliere

The former France versatile back was central to the team throughout her international career. She won World Rugby’s Player of the Year in 2018 and also Player of the Decade.

She represented France in two Rugby World Cups and won the Women’s Six Nations in 2014.

Best women's rugby players

Jessy Tremouliere kicking the ball (Getty Images)

2. Sarah Hunter

The ex-England number eight is the most capped player for the country of all-time. She has 141 caps to her name in her career that spanned from 2007-2023. Hunter won the Rugby World Cup in 2014, claimed 10 Women’s Six Nations titles with eight Grand Slams and was captain for the last eight years of her England career.

Hunter was also a thoroughly consistent in her performances throughout her career. She was named World Rugby’s Player of the Year in 2016, received an MBE in 2015 and a CBE in 2023.

1. Portia Woodman-Wickliffe

New Zealand wing Portia Woodman-Wickliffe is a huge name in both the sevens and 15s games. The star was named World Rugby’s sevens Player of the Decade and has won Olympic and Commonwealth golds in the game.

In 15s she has won back-to-back Rugby World Cup titles, in 2017 and 2021. She is also the all-time top Rugby World Cup try-scorer, across the men and women’s game. She has scored 20 Rugby World Cup tries in the two tournaments she has competed in.

She has also been named World Rugby Rugby Women’s Player of the Year twice in 2015 and 2017.

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