Sport Rugby

Tuesday 24 January 2017

BOD gets the nod but no Paul O'Connell on list of bravest ever rugby players

Published 31/03/2016 | 10:02

The word bravery gets thrown around a lot in rugby - too much for some, who rolled their eyes as the adjective was used to describe the Irish team after they were filleted by Argentina in the World Cup quarter-final.

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But given the intensely physical nature of the sport, anybody who takes the field can count themselves as being at least a little bit brave. Whittling down every player who has ever played the sport to the 15 bravest is a tough task but the Daily Telegraph attempted to do just that and the results are... interesting from an Irish perspective.

Having two out of 15 isn't too bad given the size of the country but we just cannot abide by a list of brave players that doesn't include legendary lock Paul O'Connell.

Here is the complete list - we added our own commentary as to whether the player selected deserved inclusion over the former Ireland captain.

1. Shane Williams - There had to be one 'little' guy on this list, and Williams can fly the flag for Peter Stringer and all the other smallies who have played the game.

2. Tim Horan - Horan was a physical player no doubt, but was known more for his grace and powerful runs than outright 'bravery'. We demand a recount!

3. Fabien Galthie - Included on this list for helping to haul down Jonah Lomu during the 1999 World Cup semi-final. To be fair, any scrum-half who achieved that deserves their place.

4. Fergus Slattery - Finally an Irishman! No qualms here.

5. JPR Williams - DEFINITELY deserves his inclusion. Would famously sprint all the way from the fullback position just to throw a haymaker at a rampaging Springbok.

6. Jonny Wilkinson - Wilko's bravery in the tackle probably cost him a few years of his career. Teak tough.

7. Brian O'Driscoll - Like Wilkinson, O'Driscoll was such a fearsome tackler despite not being built like a traditional powerhouse.

8. Schalk Burger - Is there anything brave about gouging a prone player at the bottom of a ruck like Burger did to Luke Fitzgerald on the 2009 Lions tour? His place on this list should be revoked on that alone.

9. Richie McCaw - Slowing down opposition ball with every body part imaginable requires a large degree of bravery, especially when playing South Africa (see above).

10. Joost van der Westhuizen - Another scrum-half who makes the list on the back of a brilliant tackle on Lomu. That and so much more.

11. Wayne 'Buck' Shelford - The man who had his scrotum ripped open, stitched up and then returned to the field of play? That might be beyond brave.

12. Jean-Pierre Rives - This French maverick seemed to always be covered in blood. Must have put himself about so.

13. Martin Johnson - On the 1997 Lions tour, Johnson was taken to the medical room during one of the games with a bad ear injury and told he shouldn't go back on. His response - paraphrasing slightly - was 'stitch that f**king ear up, I'm going back on the f**king field'.

14. Lewis Moody - Moody was certainly tough, but any tougher than a host of other back rows? You could insert O'Connell here too.

15. Jacques Burger - Every time Burger finishes a game his face looks as if it has been battered with a baseball bat - that is a defensive effort.

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