In general, rugby has been much more of a game about the team. Despite this, there have still been some very famous individuals to come out of the sport.
Who is the most famous rugby player? It is difficult to say exactly who is the most famous rugby player of all time, as rugby is such a global sport. But most people would probably say that former New Zealand international Jonah Lomu is the most famous rugby player across the globe.
Rugby has always been a game much more about the team. Individualism is not really encouraged as it is often seen as coming at the expense of the team. While this is in the identity of rugby, it can make it difficult for players to become famous, unless they establish themselves as stars.
There have been a few players able to do this, with their incredible skill and performances being enough for them to differentiate themselves from everyone else. There have been a few different players who have managed to do this. But the way that Jonah Lomu dominated the sport while bringing in a new audience likely makes him the most famous rugby player of all time.
Jonah Lomu reinvented how rugby was played and his incredible combination of size and speed brought many fans to the game. Lomu was 6ft 5in and yet could still run faster than pretty much anyone in the world. This incredible physical ability lead Lomu to become a try-scoring machine for New Zealand.
43 tries in 73 appearances for New Zealand showed his skill and Lomu created one of the most memorable moments in rugby history when he ran over Mike Catt in the 1995 World Cup Semi-Final to score the first of his four tries to take New Zealand to the World Cup final.
Sadly for Lomu, his performance started to decline as his health deteriorated, with Lomu being diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome in 1995. Sadly for the rugby world, Lomu passed away in 2015 at the age of just 40, stemming from a heart attack linked to his kidney disease.
His incredible fame meant that Lomu left a massive legacy behind after his death. He reinvented the winger position, with guys like Nemani Nadolo, Alesana Tuilagi and Josua Tuisova all becoming international superstars as physical wingers, something that just did not happen before Lomu’s career.
Lomu has lent his name to multiple video games as well, with Jonah Lomu Rugby being the leading rugby video game for many years. Lomu was really seen as the first global superstar of rugby and seven years after his passing is still likely the most famous rugby player of all time.
Who is the best rugby player in 2022?
At the time of writing, it is difficult to say exactly who is currently the best player in the world, but there are certainly a few guys who it is easy to consider as one of the best at the moment.
South Africa are the current World Champions of rugby so it is hardly surprising that they have a few of the best players in the world. Lukhanyo Am is looking like one of the best players in the world this year and he has been phenomenal, particularly internationally.
Am is a brilliant ball carrier who has the incredibly fast feet to speed through any defence. While his physical attributes are what catches the eye, Am is crucial to what South Africa does in attack and defence because of his brilliant playmaking and strong tackles in defence.
There is no doubt that Am is one of the best players in the world and it will be exciting to see him return from the knee injury that kept him out of most of the Rugby Championship.
I think if you ask most people, they would still say that Antoine Dupont is the best player in the world. The 25-year-old started playing rugby at a very young age and eventually came up through the ranks at Castres before moving to Toulouse in 2017. Over the last couple of years, Dupont has risen to the best player in the world.
The scrum-half is the best player for the French team that won the Grand Slam earlier this year. His physical ball-carrying is so difficult to stop as you don’t expect someone his size to be able to push through defenders as he does.
While his work as an individual is impressive, Dupont is also crucial to what France does as a team. Dupont moves the ball incredibly quickly and gives his backs plenty of opportunities to score. Dupont got his recognition last year, being awarded World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year.
While Dupont has been a bit quieter over the summer, being rested by France for the tour of Japan, Dupont is still likely the best player in the world. He also won Six Nations Player of the Tournament in 2022, due to being so crucial to France winning the title earlier this year.
Josh van der Flier
Ireland’s test series win over New Zealand in the summer was likely the biggest achievement in the history of Irish rugby, as It is incredibly difficult to win a test series in New Zealand. It was the first time since 1994 that New Zealand lost a home test series.
Ireland’s tour victory was really spurred on by the brilliant performances of Josh van der Flier. The 29-year-old Flanker came up through the ranks of Leinster’s academy before making his Leinster debut in 2014. Van der Flier made his Ireland debut in 2016 and has really become a key part of the team over the last 18 months.
He has done this with a brilliant combination of attack and defence. Van der Flier scored the first try in the deciding game which really set the tone for Ireland to go on to win the series. He was brilliant in defence as well, with 62 tackles and four total turnovers. The Leinster Flanker looks like Ireland’s best player, a massive accomplishment on a star-studded team.