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RugbyPass Top 100: Picking the 50th to 41st best players in the world

By RugbyPass
(Photo / Getty Images)

Who is the best player in the world? It’s a question every rugby fan has an answer for, but rarely are any two answers the same.

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That’s why RugbyPass has undertaken a comprehensive deep dive into the last 12 months of test rugby to formulate an answer of our own.

In doing so, five members from our editorial team – split between the northern and southern hemispheres – compiled their own lists of the top 100 players on the planet.

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From there, the cumulative lists were averaged out to create the RugbyPass Top 100, an overall list of the 100 best players on the planet based primarily on test rugby performances in 2021.

Other factors that, to a lesser extent, contributed to how players were ranked included test rugby performances from previous years, the influence of a player within their team, and how players fared at club and domestic level.

However, in essence, the RugbyPass Top 100 is a celebration of the stars who shone the brightest on rugby’s biggest stage last year.

That celebration continues today by announcing the players ranked 50-41, with the remainder of the list to be released over the course of this week.

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50. James Lowe

Age: 29
Test caps: 9
Nation: Ireland
Club: Leinster

Ireland <a href=
All Blacks Foster Sexton” width=”1920″ height=”1080″ /> (Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

After years of All Blacks exclusion during his time in New Zealand, James Lowe made test rugby is own in 2021 as he continued his rise in Ireland. Qualifying for his adopted nation on residency grounds in 2020, not only did the ex-Chiefs wing become a regular for the Irish last year, but he was flourishing by the end of the season. A superb showing against his home country in a stunning victory two months ago capped a stunning year for Lowe, and expect him to carry that vein of form into 2022.

49. Tadhg Beirne

Age: 30
Test caps: 27
Nation: Ireland
Club: Munster

Tadhg Beirne Lions
Photo / Getty Images
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An important member of Ireland’s squad in recent years, Tadhg Beirne’s influence was recognised in 2021 when he earned selection for the British and Irish Lions for their tour of South Africa. There, the utility forward made two test appearances off the bench against the Springboks in a series that was sandwiched by a Six Nations campaign and an Autumn Nations Series in which Beirne played in all eight of Ireland’s fixtures.

48. Owen Farrell

Age: 30
Test caps: 100
Nation: England
Club: Saracens

Farrell England Saracens McCall
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England’s best playmaker since Jonny Wilkinson, Owen Farrell has been nothing short of sublime at international level since his test debut a decade ago. His experience and class enabled the five-eighth to notch his 100th test match against the Wallabies at Twickenham in November, four months after he embarked on his third British and Irish Lions tour. Still only 30-years-old, Farrell appears well-equipped to help guide England towards another World Cup campaign next year.

47. Will Skelton

Age: 29
Test caps: 21
Nation: Australia
Club: La Rochelle

(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Will Skelton’s five-year hiatus from test rugby was brought to an end last year when was dragged back into the Wallabies after Rugby Australia altered its eligibility laws. Regarded as one of the finest locks in European club rugby, the Wallabies were desperate to have the giant second rower back in their ranks to bolster a positional group in which they have lacked quality in recent times. As such, Skelton played in all three of his country’s Autumn Nations Series matches in 2021, and Australian fans will be hoping he features regularly throughout this year.

46. Marika Koroibete

Age: 29
Test caps: 42
Nation: Australia
Club: Saitama Wild Knights

(Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

Among Australia’s standout players in recent times, Marika Koroibete has established himself as one of the world’s most exciting and powerful wings. The former NRL star’s ability to consistently churn out impressive performances for an often-underwhelming Wallabies outfit speaks volumes of his talent, of which the Saitama Wild Knights have paid good money for in Japan’s League One.

45. Handre Pollard

Age: 27
Test caps: 60
Nation: South Africa
Club: Montpellier

Handre Pollard
(Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

Reported to be one of rugby’s highest-paid players in 2021, Handre Pollard remains South Africa’s premier playmaker as he continues to dominate the No 10 jersey for the Springboks. That much is reflected by the fact that the 2019 World Cup champion started in all but two of his nation’s test matches last year. With 60 test caps to his name at the age of just 27, it would take a brave person to bet against Pollard from becoming a test centurion.

44. Alun Wyn Jones

Age: 36
Test caps: 161
Nation: Wales
Club: Ospreys

Alun Wyn Jones
(Photo / Getty Images)

The most-capped player in the history of test rugby, Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones continues to make his mark on the international scene at the age of 36. A decade-and-a-half after his test debut in 2006, the veteran lock embarked on his fourth British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa last year after having skippered Wales to a Six Nations title in March, which is a feat in itself given he dislocated his shoulder in a warm-up match against Japan just weeks beforehand. That injury flared up again against the All Blacks in November, leaving him unavailable for this year’s Six Nations, but don’t rule out the prospect of Jones suiting up for a record-equalling fifth World Cup in France next year.

43. Charles Ollivon

Age: 28
Test caps: 23
Nation: France
Club: Toulon

Six Nations
(Photo / Getty Images)

At the age of only 28, Charles Ollivon stands as a senior figure in France’s youthful yet exciting squad that has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence since the 2019 World Cup. The loose forward’s influence in the Les Bleus set-up was reflected by the fact he was named France captain at the beginning of 2020 and started in all but two tests between his appointment and the end of last year’s Six Nations. While a knee injury robbed Ollivon of playing for France beyond that tournament, his pedigree as a world-class prospect cannot be denied.

42. Dalton Papalii

Age: 24
Test caps: 12
Nation: New Zealand
Club: Blues

(Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

It took three seasons of limited involvement in the All Blacks squad since his test debut in 2018, but Dalton Papalii made every post a winner at international level in 2021. The long-term injury of New Zealand captain Sam Cane helped in handing Papalii extra game time, but the young flanker deserved every minute he got as he produced a string of compelling displays throughout the year. Even with Cane and Ardie Savea onboard, it will take a massive effort to edge Papalii out of New Zealand’s No 7 jersey.

41. Dan Biggar

Age: 32
Test caps: 98
Nation: Wales
Club: Northampton Saints

Lions Biggar
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Long regarded as Wales’ best pivot, Dan Biggar’s reputation as one of the world’s top playmakers was cemented when he started in all three British and Irish Lions tests against the Springboks last year. Prior to that, the experienced flyhalf starred in his nation’s Six Nations title success, with his 20-point haul against France in Paris the pick of his performances. With his 100th test cap lingering on the horizon ahead of next month’s Six Nations, Biggar remains a vital component in Wayne Pivac’s Welsh squad.

RugbyPass Top 100

1. TBC (14/1/2022)
2. TBC (14/1/2022)
3. TBC (14/1/2022)
4. TBC (14/1/2022)
5. TBC (14/1/2022)
6. TBC (14/1/2022)
7. TBC (14/1/2022)
8. TBC (14/1/2022)
9. TBC (14/1/2022)
10. TBC (14/1/2022)
11. TBC (13/1/2022)
12. TBC (13/1/2022)
13. TBC (13/1/2022)
14. TBC (13/1/2022)
15. TBC (13/1/2022)
16. TBC (13/1/2022)
17. TBC (13/1/2022)
18. TBC (13/1/2022)
19. TBC (13/1/2022)
20. TBC (13/1/2022)
21. TBC (12/1/2022)
22. TBC (12/1/2022)
23. TBC (12/1/2022)
24. TBC (12/1/2022)
25. TBC (12/1/2022)
26. TBC (12/1/2022)
27. TBC (12/1/2022)
28. TBC (12/1/2022)
29. TBC (12/1/2022)
30. TBC (12/1/2022)
31. TBC (11/1/2022)
32. TBC (11/1/2022)
33. TBC (11/1/2022)
34. TBC (11/1/2022)
35. TBC (11/1/2022)
36. TBC (11/1/2022)
37. TBC (11/1/2022)
38. TBC (11/1/2022)
39. TBC (11/1/2022)
40. TBC (11/1/2022)
41. Dan Biggar (Wales)
42. Dalton Papalii (New Zealand)
43. Charles Ollivon (France)
44. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
45. Handre Pollard (South Africa)
46. Marika Koroibete (Australia)
47. Will Skelton (Australia)
48. Owen Farrell (England)
49. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
50. James Lowe (Ireland)
51. Andrew Porter (Ireland)
52. Len Ikitau (Australia)
53. Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)
54. Aaron Smith (New Zealand)
55. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
56. Garry Ringrose (Ireland)
57. Trevor Nyakane (South Africa)
58. Andrew Kellaway (Australia)
59. Akira Ioane (New Zealand)
60. Steven Kitshoff (South Africa)
61. Franco Mostert (South Africa)
62. Rob Valetini (Australia)
63. Melvyn Jaminet (France)
64. Courtney Lawes (England)
65. Paul Willemse (France)
66. Codie Taylor (New Zealand)
67. Gael Fickou (France)
68. Ben Youngs (England)
69. Pablo Matera (Argentina)
70. Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)
71. Cyril Baille (France)
72. Julian Montoya (Argentina)
73. Bundee Aki (Ireland)
74. Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)
75. Kyle Sinckler (England)
76. Matthieu Jalibert (France)
77. Julien Marchand (France)
78. Sam Underhill (England)
79. Luke Cowan-Dickie (England)
80. Vincent Koch (South Africa)
81. Ellis Genge (England)
82. Iain Henderson (Ireland)
83. Hugo Keenan (Ireland)
84. Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa)
85. Richie Mo’unga (New Zealand)
86. Jasper Wiese (South Africa)
87. Tate McDermott (Australia)
88. Kwagga Smith (South Africa)
89. Liam Williams (Wales)
90. Frans Steyn (South Africa)
91. James Ryan (Ireland)
92. Ken Owens (Wales)
93. Uini Atonio (France)
94. Sam Simmonds (England)
95. Ellis Jenkins (Wales)
96. Lood de Jager (South Africa)
97. Josh van der Flier (Ireland)
98. Cameron Woki (France)
99. Ox Nche (South Africa)
100. Anton Lienert-Brown (New Zealand)

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