The 10 Best Rugby Players in New Zealand

top ten rugby players nz
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Rugby is one of the most popular sports in New Zealand, and it’s not hard to spark up a conversation with someone who will tell you their hot take on the best rugby players NZ has to offer. The New Zealand Rugby Union and the All Blacks team have become a part of the nation’s culture. There are millions of dedicated fans that look forward to sporting events.

After all, rugby is considered NZ’s national sport.

If you’re a fan of this exciting sport, you’ve likely become familiar with some of the players in the league. Have you ever wondered who the best in the league is?

Today, we’re going to cover the 10 rugby players who have a pretty strong candidacy for the best of all time from New Zealand (find out who has the most World Cup and Bledisloe Cup title wins)

History of New Zealand Rugby

Rugby in New Zealand dates back to 1840 when the British settlers first arrived. The first official rugby game didn’t take place until 1870. Several years later, the first New Zealand rugby team was formed in 1884 to play in tournaments throughout Australia. They ended up winning 8 matches.

The New Zealand Rugby Union was officially formed in 1892. When the union was first formed, it went by the name New Zealand Rugby Football Union. However, in 2006 it dropped the word “football” from its name.

To date, New Zealand has the best world rugby rankings. They are tied with South Africa for the most Rugby World Cup wins. Both teams have won the Rugby World Cup 3 times.

However, New Zealand has better rankings because they have been runner ups more years than South Africa. In their trophy cabinet, they have the Rugby World Cups of 1987, 2011, and 2015, plus 10 tri-nations trophies.

The 10 Best Rugby Players of New Zealand

Have you ever wondered which rugby players have made the biggest impact in New Zealand? Below are the 10 best players in the nation.

1. Brad Weber

Brad Weber is a player for the Chiefs in Super Rugby Sides. He also plays as a halfback for Hawke’s Bay. Weber has an impressive international career. He debuted for the All Blacks in 2015.

He really made a name for himself in 2019 when the team won the World Cup against Canada. During this game, he scored his first try internationally.

2. Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams is a double threat. He is a heavyweight boxer and played rugby professionally for the New Zealand Rugby League and the All Blacks. His international career is recognized by many for his 2 world cup wins.

This is something even the best New Zealand athletes that have competed haven’t achieved.

3. Ethan De Groot

One of the best athletes currently playing is Ethan De Groot. He made his international debut in 2021. In 2022, the All Blacks decided to choose another player over De Groot. After a brutal loss to Ireland, they realized passing on this rugby superstar was a big mistake and reselected him.

He later played in Auckland when New Zealand won the Bledisloe Cup against Australia. This is one modern player Kiwis recently can’t get enough of.

4. Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw is also considered one of the best modern rugby competitors from New Zealand. During his time on the field, he was the captain of the All Blacks. He led the team to win the World Rugby Championship in 2011.

He was also inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame. From his first test match, his incredible speed and ability were noticed. He ended up playing 148 tests and won 110 of them. It’s easy to see why he was one of the most impressive players in the country.

5. Charles Monro

We can’t talk about rugby in New Zealand without giving Charles Monro the credit he deserves. You likely haven’t seen Monro compete in a rugby championship match. However, he plays the most important part in New Zealand’s relationship with rugby.

Monro is the person who introduced the sport to New Zealand. He was the one who taught the rules to Nelson Football Club and arranged matches.

6. Colin Meads

Colin Meads has been recognized by the International Rugby Hall of Fame and was awarded the title of New Zealand Companion of Merit. He was a key player in the success of the All Blacks in the 1960s, known for his role as fly-half. Still to this day, Meads makes the page as one of New Zealand’s most famous rugby players.

7. George Nepia

George Nepia has a short career playing fullback for New Zealand All Blacks, but he made a huge impact. He is still recognized for his talents to this day. Nepia played for the All Blacks for only one season between 1924 to 1925. New Zealand played 32 games that season.

Thanks to Nepia’s skills in the game, the team ended up winning all of them. They made history as they competed against Canada, Britain, and France. He retired from rugby in 2007, and unfortunately passed in 2015 after he suffered from a heart attack.

8. Sean Fitzpatrick

Another Hall of Fame member from New Zealand is Sean Fitzpatrick. His father, Brian Fitzpatrick, made a great impression during his debut in 1951. Sean ended up making his debut in 1986 and become the best hooker in the league. His passion for the game earned him a spot as team captain in 1992.

He brought his team to victory in the championship competition against Britain. Sean has also played more international games than any other New Zealand rugby player. He is now a sports commenter and is still named the best rugby hooker in New Zealand.

9. Beaudon Barrett

Beaudon Barrett is a fullback who played a key role in helping New Zealand’s national team, the All Blacks squad, win the 2015 Rugby World Cup. He won the World Rugby Player Of The Year Award 2 years in a row in 2016 and 2017. Barrett also won the Taranaki Sports Award for Sportsperson Of The Year 3 times in 2013, 2016, and 2019. This winning fullback is one of the best from New Zealand.

10. Jonah Lomu

Many of the rugby players you see on the field today were inspired by Jonah Lomu. A graduate of Wesley college, he was one of the best rugby players throughout the 1990s. Lomu was known for his large physique and for picking up incredible speed.

This made him a force when he charged at other players. Throughout his career, he scored 37 tries and played the test match 63 times.

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Lincoln Trembley
Lincoln Trembley
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