Choosing the best rugby players will always be a tough ask in a world cup year, with many talented players raising their game and rising to the occasion. Contributory factors include the sense of occasion, the atmosphere at the biggest stadiums and, of course, playing against the best opposition. It has been a great year for rugby and we have seen some of the most compelling and competitive matches in the world cup’s prestigious history.
All Black legend
Daniel Carter hangs up his boots this year, calling time on a truly illustrious career sealed with a world cup winner’s medal in October. When talking about the All Blacks, you have to be talking about a very special player when using the word ‘legend’; however, with a 12-year run and 112 caps under his belt, Carter does set himself apart. He racked up 1,579 test points and still looked at his best in 2015, topping off a glittering career by being awarded his third World Rugby Player of the Year trophy in November. There can be few ‘top player’ lists this year without Dan Carter among them.
A long-term, reliable presence in the second row for Wales, Alun Wyn Jones has been a mainstay for his country, and the British and Irish Lions, in recent years. There are few forwards to reach 100 caps, but Wyn Jones passed this milestone in the RWC 2015 quarter-final against the Springboks (including his six Lions caps). A fierce competitor and impressive figure on and off the pitch, it is no surprise that he captained the side in the warm-up match against Ireland.
Scottish scrum-half Greig Laidlaw led his team to its best performance in a world cup for years. Laidlaw’s team lost in the quarter-finals and he was leading points scorer with 79. He has started in 12 of his country’s 14 test matches this year, leading his squad through rugby drill and team bonding.
Each of these greats has natural talent; however, no one reaches the top without practice. They will have spent hours on rugby drill exercises even before their first competitive game. Repetition and skills drills are readily available on websites such as http://www.sportplan.net/ if you want to start honing your own game.
With so much talent on show in 2015, 2016 looks like being another exciting year for the sport.