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RugbyPass Top 100: Picking the 80th to 71st best players in the world

By RugbyPass
(Photos: Getty Images / Photosport)

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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 80-71, with the remainder of the list to be released over the course of the next two weeks.

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80. Vincent Koch

Age: 31
Test caps: 31
Nation: South Africa
Club: Saracens

Vincent Koch
(Photo by PATRICK HAMILTON/AFP via Getty Images)

Part of South Africa’s infamous ‘bomb squad’, Vincent Koch has helped the Springboks thrive in recent years by providing impact off the bench as part of a menacing front row replacement trio. The Wasps-bound tighthead prop’s last 13 test appearances have all been from the bench, including South Africa’s victorious 2019 World Cup final, but his influence on the game has been clear for all to see. A powerful scrummager who doesn’t shy away from physicality, Koch remains an integral part of the Springboks.

79. Luke Cowan-Dickie

Age: 28
Test caps: 34
Nation: England
Club: Exeter Chiefs

Cowan Dickie <a href=
England Exeter” width=”1920″ height=”1081″ /> (Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)
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While he has rarely been seen as a starting option for England while sharing the hooker role with veteran rake Jamie George, Luke Cowan-Dickie enjoyed a rapid rise this year. Not only did he finish the Six Nations as England’s first-choice hooker, but he also emerged as the main option for the British and Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa. For a player that had long found national selection, and then starting spots, hard to come by under Eddie Jones, Cowan-Dickie’s career hit an upward trajectory in 2021, and that would have continued into the Autumn Nations Series had injury not sidelined him.

78. Sam Underhill

Age: 25
Test caps: 27
Nation: England
Club: Bath

Sam Underhill
(Photo / PA)

One of the stars to have emerged from the 2019 World Cup, England flanker Sam Underhill remains one of rugby’s top loose forwards. Blessed with an immense work rate and rugged defensive tenacity, the nuggety back rower was unlucky to have missed selection for the British and Irish Lions after being ruled out of the Six Nations with a hip injury, but he performed strongly in the Autumn Nations Series to help propel England to victories over the Wallabies, Springboks and Tonga.

77. Julien Marchand

Age: 26
Test caps: 27
Nation: France
Club: Toulouse

(Photo by John Berry/Getty Images)

Among the core group of players that has helped spark France’s renaissance, Julien Marchand has nailed down the Les Bleus No 2 jersey following the dominance of Guilhem Guirado and Camille Chat in the lead-up to and during the 2019 World Cup. Since that tournament, Marchand has started in all 10 of France’s Six Nations matches and would have been part of his side’s upset win over the All Blacks had he not been injured the clash against Georgia the week beforehand. Still only 26, Marchand looks destined to be part of this French side for years to come.

76. Matthieu Jalibert

Age: 23
Test caps: 15
Nation: France
Club: Bordeaux

(Photo by John Berry/Getty Images)

Another young Les Bleus star on the rise, Matthieu Jalibert is one of numerous prodigious French playmakers, of whom are headlined by Romain Ntamack. The latter’s presence will make it tricky for Jalibert to break into his nation’s starting lineup as a No 10, but he has flourished when he has been named to play there. There is a possibility the pair could even coexist in France’s backline, as they did against Argentina and Georgia in the Autumn Nations Series, but Jalibert’s youth, class and potential means he can’t be ruled out from playing a vital role in the imminent success of this exciting French squad.

75. Kyle Sinckler

Age: 28
Test caps: 53
Nation: England
Club: Bristol Bears

Kyle Sinckler
(Photo / PA)

Now a veteran of English rugby, Kyle Sinckler furthered his status as one of the world’s leading props by securing selection for his second British and Irish Lions tour. During his time in South Africa, the new Bristol Bears recruit featured in all three tests against the Springboks, and started in all but one test for England throughout the Six Nations and Autumn Nations Series. Renowned for his aggressive nature and strong ball carrying, Sinckler stands as an important figure for Eddie Jones and England.

74. Sam Whitelock

Age: 33
Test caps: 132
Nation: New Zealand
Club: Crusaders

(Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The longest-serving member of the current All Blacks squad, no New Zealand player can match the experience veteran lock Sam Whitelock wields. That experience was put to use throughout 2021 when the test centurion was appointed All Blacks captain for their July test series and end-of-year tour in the absence of regular skipper Sam Cane. Although he was one of many All Blacks whose performances dipped at the end of the season, Whitelock played well early on in the year and remains a pivotal member of Ian Foster’s squad.

73. Bundee Aki

Age: 31
Test caps: 34
Nation: Ireland
Club: Connacht

(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

A constant selection in Ireland’s starting lineup, Bundee Aki has become a focal point of his adopted nation’s success since his test debut in 2017. Part of that success has been two victories over New Zealand, his nation of birth, the second of which came in November where Aki was prominent in beating the All Blacks in front of a boisterous Dublin crowd. Prior to that result, the Connacht star featured in Ireland’s demolition of Japan and started for the British and Irish Lions in their final test against the Springboks.

72. Julian Montoya

Age: 28
Test caps: 75
Nation: Argentina
Club: Leicester Tigers

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

In a year where Los Pumas struggled to replicate their impressive Tri-Nations feats of beating the All Blacks and going unbeaten against the Wallabies, captain Julian Montoya was the undoubted standout for Argentina in 2021. A robust hooker who is just as adept with ball in hand as he is on defence and at the breakdown, Montoya’s lead-by-example style of play allowed him to excel in a disappointing campaign for the South Americans.

71. Cyril Baille

Age: 28
Test caps: 31
Nation: France
Club: Toulouse

France Six Nations
(Photo by Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

France’s front row stocks are beaming at present with Cryil Baille a regular presence alongside the likes of Marchand and Uini Atonio up front for Les Bleus. Handed the starting honours at loosehead prop in the wake of the 2019 World Cup, Baille has been at the heart of French rugby’s revolution over the past couple of years and appears set to continue to feature prominently for his country heading into next year’s World Cup.

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. TBC (10/1/2022)
42. TBC (10/1/2022)
43. TBC (10/1/2022)
44. TBC (10/1/2022)
45. TBC (10/1/2022)
46. TBC (10/1/2022)
47. TBC (10/1/2022)
48. TBC (10/1/2022)
49. TBC (10/1/2022)
50. TBC (7/1/2022)
51. TBC (7/1/2022)
52. TBC (7/1/2022)
53. TBC (7/1/2022)
54. TBC (7/1/2022)
55. TBC (7/1/2022)
56. TBC (7/1/2022)
57. TBC (7/1/2022)
58. TBC (7/1/2022)
59. TBC (7/1/2022)
60. TBC (6/1/2022)
61. TBC (6/1/2022)
62. TBC (6/1/2022)
63. TBC (6/1/2022)
64. TBC (6/1/2022)
65. TBC (6/1/2022)
66. TBC (6/1/2022)
67. TBC (6/1/2022)
68. TBC (6/1/2022)
69. TBC (6/1/2022)
70. TBC (5/1/2022)
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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