The 50 best rugby players in the world in 2020
The Rugby Onslaught investigation unit has gathered a crack team of the best analysts, codebreakers and pundits in the universe to pick the 50 best rugby players in the world in 2020.
The list comprises of the best rugby players in the world in the calendar year of 2020, using code and analytics to work out how, on form, deserves to be in the list.
50. Ollie Thorley
Well earned spot on this list for the 24-year-old who has been a powerhouse for Gloucester this year.
49. Callum Sheedy
Sheedy has been a points machine for Bristol Bears in 2019 and 2020. He even did enough to earn a place for Wales at the end of the year.
48. Tate McDermott
The young Reds scrum-half emerged on the scene early this year. You may not have heard of him much if you don’t play Super Rugby, but rest assured, he is a future star for the Wallabies.
47. Bundee Aki
The Connacht man has been sensational for club and ok for country this year. His dominant performances have kept his name up there and earned him a place just in this list.
46. Jake Polledri
The Gloucester and Italy forward is quickly making a name for himself as the Azzuri’s replacement for Sergio Parrisse. He has been a constant for club and country this year.
45. Taniela Tupou
The Australian has been massively impressive for Australia and the Reds this year despite struggles for international games.
44. Camille Chat
The France and Racing 92 hooker is the definition of power in the front row. His performances have almost been as monumental as his sizable neck.
43. Ngani Laumape
The All Black, cast out by Steve Hansen in the 2019 World Cup has made a sensational comeback for New Zealand in 2020. He seems to be playing with genuine bad intentions which has made him so dangerous to play against.
42. Michael Hooper
The Australian captain should really be higher up this list, however, he has been let down by the players around him yet again. A strong year for the Wallabies would help to raise his stock.
41. Morne Steyn
A sensational Bulls season in Super Rugby unlocked helped the South African into this list at the ripe age of thirty six. It shows the quality of the man to be that good at this stage of his career.
40. Joe Simmonds
What an achievement for this young man. Just 23-years-old and he captains the best team in England to a double in England and in Europe. It is a travesty that he is not being considered to play for the roses. He would be higher up this list if he had a chance to impress for England.
39. Kyle Sinckler
Sinckler is undoubtedly one of the best props in World Rugby. His transformative play style in the front row has helped carve his name out in that position for years to come. He recently admitted he has only played at 20% of his capability for Bristol Bears this year because of off-field pressures. Imagine him at 100%!
38. Louis Rees Zammit
A stunning start to 2020 had this young Welshman in the focus for the whole of January in the rugby world. He has managed to continue that form when rugby restarted towards the end of the year. Surely Wales will want to keep him in their plans under Wayne Pivac next year.
37. Nemani Nadolo
What a year for the gigantic Fijian. Nadolo managed to bag a hat trick of tries for Fiji having just played one game in the Autumn Nations Cup. That shows just how good the Leicester Tigers winger is. There aren’t too many years left in the star, but he undoubtedly will be key for any side he plays for.
36. Eben Etzebeth
Another player who has managed to make his way into this list despite no international rugby. The hulking Springbok has started the 2020-2021 rugby season in crusading form and he will undoubtedly be key to everything the South Africans do next year.
35. Marika Koroibete
The Australian has been a bright light in what has been a tough year for Australian rugby. After their loss to New Zealand in the Tri Nations, he helped turn results around for the men in green and gold. Would certainly be higher up this list if we got to see more of him in action.
34. Pablo Matera
His off-field controversies can’t take away from the fact that the Argentina captain has been sensational for Los Pumas in 2020. With everything stacked against them, they have still somehow managed to excel to one of their best years ever. Matera was behind almost all of this.
33. Marcus Smith
Despite being young in years the Harlequins star man has consistently managed to get himself in the top scorer points in the Gallagher Premiership. No mean feat for a rugby player who is just 21-year-old.
32. Caelan Doris
A shining light of Irish rugby this year, the Leinster and Ireland forward has made leaps and bounds in the rugby world at the tender age of 22. We are certain that we will find him in action even more as the years go on. Ireland is going through a transitional stage at the moment and we are certain Doris will be behind all the changes in that team.
31. Beauden Barrett
The box office fly half has had a quiet 2020 by his own standards, and he was more in the media for his high profile moves to the Blues and Japan than his actual rugby skill. He has however, always been a threat for any side that he played for and he will always deserve to be on a list like this.
30. Brice Dulin
Nothing but integral for La Rochelle in the Top 14 this year. Despite not featuring regularly for France this year, his form for his club has been that good that he certainly deserves a spot in this list.
29. Garry Ringrose
He has failed to deliver on the international stage, but for Leinster, Ringrose has been integral. A strong start to 2021 could certainly see this man back in a red shirt in South Africa.
28. Liam Williams
The Scarlets fullback has managed to maintain a high level for both club and country despite the fact that both his head coaches are quite simply, clueless. It’s a testament to Williams that he is still considered one of the main options to play for the Lions despite the incredible competition in those positions.
27. Faf de Klerk
Despite no international rugby for South Africa this year, he has still wowed fans in England for Sale Sharks. The World Cup winner has put in multiple man of the match performances this year. He is one of the main reasons why so many South Africans choose to play their rugby in the Gallagher Premiership.
26. Henry Slade
The Exeter Chiefs centre is always involved when Exeter of England score a sensational solo try. He is an elite pedigree player who has excelled under the tutelage of Eddie Jones in recent years. He certainly deserves to be in this list.
25. Justin Tipuric
The 31-year-old Ospreys flanker has always managed to maintain a level of elite form, and he has yet again managed to do this in the 2020 rugby season. His speed is still sensational, his tackling non-stop. Don’t be surprised if this man is still up there for a spot in the 2021 Lions starting team.
24. Finn Russell
What more can we say about the mercurial Scottish fly half. Many have tippeded the Scotland player to start for the Lions after he put in multiple sensational performances for Racing 92 this year. However, he has struggled to match this form for the national side and it means he is sadly not higher up the list.
23. Charles Ollivon
Everything good about France and their rugby this season can be linked to the work ethic of their new captain Charles Ollivon. The softly spoken Frenchman has carried his form for Toulon onto the national team. A few more strong years and he could be one of the greats of French rugby.
22. Jordie Barrett
He pips his brother Beauden up the list this year purely because the rugby he has played has been better. Barrett was brilliant for the Hurricanes this year, playing a more influential role for the Wellington team
21. Sam Whitelock
There is no way we could leave the giant All Black second row out of this list. He has been a stalwart of Crusaders rugby in Super Rugby Aotearoa, helping the team dominate the tournament this year. Add that to the Tri Nations this year and you have a player who believe should have been a captain for the New Zealand rugby team.
20. Nicholas Sanchez
His legendary and influential performances against New Zealand in the Tri Nations is almost enough to earn the 32-year-old a place in the list. The Stade Francais 10 has been a constant in world rugby and it looks like he is peaking at the best time for Argentina.
19. Jacob Umaga
Another deserving player on this list. The son of Mike Umaga and nephew of legendary All Black Tana Umaga, he certainly deserves a place on this list being just 19 years of age. His performances for Wasps in England have been way ahead of his years. A sure-starter for England in 2021.
18. Juan Imhoff
The 32-year-old Argentina winger certainly deserves a place on this list after his sensational form for Parisian side Racing 92. His try-scoring record speaks for itself as he helped the side to a Champions Cup final.
17. Stuart Hogg
Many fans will not be happy at all about how low down the list this Scot is. He has been sensational for Exeter Chiefs this season, winning the domestic and European title. He was truly sensational for Chiefs, adding a completely new weapon to their arsenal. However, he did let himself down on multiple occasions for Scotland when he captained them this season. He dropped a ball against Ireland and a misplaced kick in the final match of the Autumn Nations Cup. Always considered one of the best rugby players around.
16. Caleb Clarke
Another New Zealand emerger on the scene in 2020. His blockbuster game against Australia in the Tri Nations had crowds amazed about his potential. The Blues winger will surely be a mainstay for the men in black in years to come.
15. Aaron Smith
Just pipped out by the Harlequins man this year, but nobody could deny that Danny Care has been truly impressive for the Stoop-based side this season. If he could break into the England side in 2021, could a Lions spot really be out of the equation?
14. Danny Care
A no brainer on this one. The former England scrum-half put in some world-beating performances for Harlequins over 2020 with many fans and critics alike seeing this 33-year-old as the world’s greatest 9 on the planet.
13. Sam Underhill
England’s tackling terminator has kicked on from an extraordinary 2019 season with another superb year for club and country. The Bath openside was an integral cog in Eddie Jones tournament winning side’s in the Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup.
12. James Ryan
A rare bright spark for Ireland in a tough year for the men in green. The 24-year-old shouldered the burden of the Ireland captaincy this year for the Autumn Nations Cup. He is highly fancied to feature for the Lions in their test series against the Springboks next summer.
11. Gregory Aldritt
The French renaissance this year has been put down to Shaun Edwards by many pundits. However, it would not have been possible without the likes of France’s Number 8 Gregory Aldritt putting in some incredible performances for the team. Couple that with his performances for La Rochelle in the Top 14. Surely one of the best rugby players on the planet right now.
10. Will Jordan
Very much a breakthrough player for New Zealand this year after some incredible performances for the Crusaders late in 2019. With New Zealand having such a premium history of back three players, Jordan looks like he may have what it takes to rival the illustrious careers of the likes of Ben Smith and Mils Mulianina in the future.
9. Ardie Savea
In a year of transition for the All Blacks, Ardie Savea has been a constant in the New Zealand rugby team. His barnstorming runs and unrivalled aggression have helped to make him the starting number 8 after Kieran Read retired. Those are some big shoes to fill and he certainly did that.
8. George North
Despite struggling for form in recent years, the Welshman is certainly deserving of a spot in the top 10 this year. Could he be in with a shot of a Lions starting place next summer if he can perform at the start of next year?
7. Romain Ntamack
Almost everything that has been brilliant about Les Bleus this year can be traced back to the son of Emile Ntamack. The 21-year-old French fly-half has been sensational this year for France. We see many more years from this man.
6. Semi Radradra
Could very much be higher in this list if we got to see him more in action for Fiji this year. Sadly the pandemic meant he could not play in the Autumn Nations Cup. Despite this, it is clear to see the massive impact he has had for Bristol Bears since the massive signing was announced at the start of the year.
5. Owen Farrell
The 29-year-old has captained England to a Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup title in 2020. His kicking was poor in the final game against France, however, most fans would admit you would die to have someone of Farrell’s calibre in their team. Almost certain to captain the Lions in 2021. Best players in the world, and Farrell is right up there.
4. Maro Itoje
The Saracens lock is not everyone’s cup of tea in rugby. However, his non-stop workrate in matches and refusal to leave the opposition alone has made him unstoppable for England. He is without a doubt the first name on the sheet for the Lions against South Africa in 2021.
3. Jonny May
By far the most impressive winger in the Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup in 2020. His relentless work ethic during lockdown has helped this winger to somehow excel even more. He hasn’t dominated for Gloucester, but his incredible solo try has earnt him that spot at number 3 in this list.
2. Antoine Dupont
The Rugby Onslaught editorial team based around the globe spent hours debating whether this Frenchman should have been Number 1 in this pick. He has been nothing short of sensational for the men in blue this year. He helped France to their strongest campaign in almost a decade, and he helped Toulouse as they dominated their domestic league.
1. Cheslin Kolbe
Nothing but class from the Springbok flyer in 2020. Despite playing no games for the Springboks in 2020, he still had more than enough flashy moments for his domestic club, Toulouse. One of the memorable moments of 2020 was when he sidestepped Jacob Stockdale in two consecutive games in the Champions Cup.