Rugby union is the national sport of Wales and the country has a rich history of producing gifted players, enjoying several golden periods of success.

There have been plenty of mercurial talents to represent Welsh rugby over the years; some achieving everything is to achieve in the game while others earned cult hero status for their commitment to the nation.

Greatest Welsh Rugby Players Of All Time:

  1. Sir Gareth Edwards

  2. Shane Williams

  3. Barry John

  4. Phil Bennett

  5. Alun Wyn Jones

In the 1970s, Wales were the best team in the world. Many believe that the Welsh team of that era belongs in the greatest rugby union teams of all-time discussion. And in more recent times, Warren Gatland’s Wales were unstoppable at times.

His side clinched three Six Nations Grand Slam titles during an 11-year period between 2008 and 2019, with supporters enjoying ridiculous levels of success. Sadly, the Rugby World Cup winners list eluded them – and continues to do so to this day…

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Choosing the five best Welsh rugby players of all-time proved very difficult indeed. Punters who bet on rugby will remember all of these iconic figures but have we got the order right?

5) Alun Wyn Jones

If you are a fan of modern day rugby, you’ll know all about Jones. With a grand total of 170 caps for Wales and the British & Irish Lions, his longevity is unrivalled in the sport.

He is the world’s most-capped rugby union international, with his tally of 158 Welsh caps beating the likes of Richie McCaw, Sam Whitelock and Sergio Parisse – all true greats of the game.

His relentless mentality and hunger to succeed acted as motivation for the Welshman and he finished his international career with five Six Nations titles, three of which were Grand Slams, while appearing on Lions tours in 2009, 2013, 2017 and 2021.

A fantastic communicator with both players and officials, Jones is a fantastic role model for aspiring youngsters and his legacy will undeniably stand the test of time. He is fully deserving of a place on this list of the greatest Welsh rugby players.

4) Phil Bennett

Bennett had the whole skill set needed to thrive as a half-back, with an elusive running style that helped him to side-step and swerve opposing defenders with consummate ease. This was highlighted perfectly by his role in what is arguably the greatest try ever scored.

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In 1973, Bennett stepped past a total of four New Zealand players and went on a marauding run down the flank before setting up Sir Gareth Edwards for the try.

While the history books show Edwards as the try scorer, it would be unfair to ignore the role of Bennett. Capable of playing in a range of rugby union positions, Bennett was the utmost professional and he remains one of the most naturally gifted players to represent Wales.

He captained the Lions on their tour of New Zealand in 1977 and Welsh rugby supporters will always remember that speech ahead of their clash with England that same year. A true legend of the game and one of Wales’ greatest ever players.

3) Barry John

John represented Wales 25 times during a six year period in the 1960s and early 1970s, scoring a total of 90 points and playing a key role in the establishment of one of Welsh rugby’s greatest periods.

He made five Test appearances for the British & Irish Lions, touring South Africa in 1968 and New Zealand in 1971. Alongside fellow Welshman Sir Gareth Edwards, he was one of the most influential players in the squad.

Excellent with the boot and effective running with the ball, John earned a reputation for his drop-goal kicking ability. In fact, he was widely regarded as one of the best kickers in the game during his career.

Smart, composed and able to make quick decisions, John was the perfect fly-half and it was sad to see him retire at just 27 years old. Always respectful of rugby union rules, he lit up the rugby world and deserves to be recognised as one of Welsh sport’s all-time greats.

2) Shane Williams

A joy to watch at his brilliant best, one of his illustrious career’s defining moments took place in the 2005 Six Nations competition as he scored a try in every Wales fixture.

Williams' extraordinary ability to score tries was essential to Wales winning every game, which led to an incredible Grand Slam triumph.

Instead of being satisfied with a single accomplishment, he was essential in assisting Wales to repeat this success in 2008. Williams will forever be remembered for his superb try-scoring ability and many would rank him as one of the most clinical scorers in union history.

Williams also made history by being the first Welshman to win the prestigious IRB Rugby Player of the Year Award, a reflection of his outstanding abilities and services to the game.

1) Sir Gareth Edwards

With 53 Wales caps to his name, Edwards is widely recognised as the greatest Welsh rugby union player in the history of the sport. And who could argue with that?

He captained his country on 13 occasions while making 10 appearances for the British & Irish Lions against the likes of South Africa and New Zealand. Without a shadow of a doubt, he belongs in the greatest rugby union players of all-time conversation.

One of just a few players to win three Grand Slam titles, Edwards was playing at a level way beyond his years. His energy, understanding of the game and world class kicking ability were key to Welsh rugby’s unprecedented success during the era.

In many ways, he played with a modern style that wouldn’t look out of place in today’s day and age. Edwards wasn’t your typical 1970s scrum half and his try for the Barbarians against the All Blacks in 1973 is arguably the greatest score in the history of the sport.


 

Alex is a sports betting tipster, specialising in Premier League football, the Champions League and horse racing.

He loves placing a weekly accumulator on the football at the weekend and dreams of landing the big winner that will take him back to Las Vegas.

As well as writing sports betting tips for 888sport since 2015, Alex has produced content for several international media companies, such as Goal.com and The SPORTBible.