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Emerald Legends: The 10 Greatest Irish Rugby Players in History

Exploring Ireland and its love for rugby is a journey in itself, as the country has seen some of the most renowned figures dominate this sport on an international level. These Irish heroes have had a lasting legacy that continues to inspire countless generations of passionate rugby fans from around the world. So let’s take you through what we at Betmaster consider are The Top 10 Greatest Irish Rugby Players ever, get ready!

Key Takeaways

The Legends of Irish Rugby

The world has been graced by an impressive array of renowned Irish rugby stars, each possessing their own distinct aptitude and dedication to the game. These players have greatly contributed to Ireland’s success in numerous matches as well as left a lasting imprint on global rugby history. Among them are the top 10 all-time greats: Keith Wood, Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara, Johnny Sexton, Willie John McBride, Mike Gibson, Jack Kyle, Tom Kiernan and Rory Best.

Not only have many of these sporting heroes played for Britain & Ireland Lions too but they’ve also earned various accolades such as Six Nations championships, Triple Crowns and Grand Slam titles, effectively embodying that this nation is considered one of the powerhouses within sportive circles beyond any doubt!

Their inspiring achievements still serve up so much inspiration amongst avid spectators today proving how relentless Irish Rugby really is across time periods alike. It cannot be denied what an immense impact those tremendous athletes had not only domestically but in terms of worldwide recognition both historically & the present day!

Keith Wood: The Dynamic Hooker

keith wood

St Munchin’s College, Limerick, Ireland, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The stellar career of Keith Wood as an Irish hooker has made him one of the most renowned rugby players around the world. His dynamic skills on-field have earned respect from teammates and rivals alike, adding significant value to any match he took part in.

Wood’s outstanding contributions include: participating three times at Rugby World Cup (1995, 1999, 2003); two iconic tours with the British & Irish Lions in 1997 and 2001. Being rewarded as Player of The Year by World Rugby for his incredible achievements, a testament to his strong passion for this sport.

He managed to be engraved within fans’ hearts thanks largely to such accomplishments demonstrating endless commitment towards Ireland’s national team in various matches all over the globe. Being remembered forevermore due to his impactful role within International rugby is what makes up Brown’s legacy today leading into tomorrow.

Brian O’Driscoll: The Iconic Centre

brian o'driscoll

Paul Walsh from Dublin, Ireland, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Brian O’Driscoll is an icon in rugby and widely acclaimed as one of the greatest ever players to grace this sport. He played 141 test matches, scored 46 tries during his 15-year long career, won numerous championships including captaining both Leinster and Ireland teams plus The British & Irish Lions. After retirement he had achieved massive success – 4 Triple Crowns, 2 Six Nations Championships (including a Grand Slam), 1 Challenge Cup alongside 3 European Cups and four domestic league titles.

O’Driscoll’s splendid performance has served as inspiration for generations that followed him – being able to achieve something so extraordinary such as leading Ireland towards beating Australia will always live with us throughout history! His lasting legacy within Irish Rugby shall remain due to his unwavering dedication towards it despite passing on from the pitch itself after international duty was through. Yet another grand testament showing just how much he treasured this great game we love all over the world today!

Paul O’Connell: The Inspirational Leader

paul o'connel warmup

Ciarán Bohane (flickr), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Paul O’Connell stands as an iconic leader and highly esteemed rugby player in the annals of Irish sports history. Boasting 108 caps for Ireland, 28 times captain-ing his country’s team, winning two Six Nations championships back to back (2014 & 2015), he garnered great admiration from admirers and compatriots alike with his intense dedication to the game. Unluckily during a World Cup match in 2015 while representing Ireland he had a horrible tear on his hamstring that made him retire at 36 years old which terminated one brilliant career prematurely. Yet even so Paul O’Connell’s indelible impact will not be forgotten due to notable accomplishments like three six nations titles, four triple crowns plus grand slam title inclusion amongst them. Along with 1 European Cup victory and 3 domestic league titles topped off by taking home Celtic Cup honourably too.. His extraordinary leadership qualities have left their mark without doubt across world Rugby whilst embodying sheer enthusiasm within all those who encountered it through association or fanhood towards Irish national rugby teams over generations past since then, present now till future onwards

Ronan O’Gara: The Prolific Scorer

ronan o'gara

Clément Bucco-Lechat, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Irish rugby great Ronan O’Gara is known for his prolific scoring over 128 appearances and 1,083 points tallied. He achieved success with Ireland in the form of three Triple Crowns as well as a Grand Slam win in 2009 plus went on to represent the British & Irish Lions across 3 tours between 1966-1977 thus solidifying himself amongst Ireland’s most iconic players. To acknowledge these outstanding achievements there have been numerous awards bestowed upon him such: 2 Heineken Cups won during his time at Munster coupled with being recognised by The Guinness Rugby Writers Player of the Year award. His devotion to sport has left an indelible mark inspiring future generations likewise striving for greatness within the rugby arena – all firmly cementing O’Garas’ position throughout Irish sporting history.

Rory Best: The Resilient Captain

Rory Best

Blackcat, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For 17 years, Rory Best has become a renowned figure in Irish rugby and is placed third in the history of Test matches for Ireland. He managed to accomplish four Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams campaigns, Four Triple Crowns and winning an Ulster league title throughout his stint as a hooker, with scrummaging being one of his main specialties.

In 2015 when Paul O’Connell retired from playing professional rugby it was Best who took over the captain role since then they have experienced lots of success such as beating the New Zealand All Blacks for the first time ever, making their debut win on South African soil plus achieving another historical three-time Grand Slam victory.

Best’s contribution to Ireland’s team can’t be underestimated; his commitment clearly places him among some great legends that will remain forever remembered by many other aspiring players worldwide whose dream is now achievable thanks to a man like himself

Jack (or “Jackie”) Kyle: The Trailblazer

Jackie Kyle

Unknown (Crown Studios of Wellington), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) honored Jackie Kyle as the greatest player in Irish rugby history, citing his 46 games for Ireland and dedication to the sport. He was instrumental in inspiring many generations of players since then with a string of remarkable achievements including helping capture an elusive Grand Slam win for Ireland in 1948, leading them to their first Triple Crown victory alongside taking home a championship title during 1951 – all feats that will remain key elements within Irish rugby’s permanent record books. For this reason, he gained international recognition when inducted into both the International Rugby Hall of Fame and the IRB Hall Of Fame. Jack Kyle also received The OBE award in 1959 due to outstanding services rendered at such an elite level towards advancing not only men’s but also women’s sports alike through unprecedented achievement on field grounds across continents throughout its peak season runs over time.

Willie John McBride: The Towering Lock

Willie John McBride, the Irish lock widely known for captaining his team to a Five Nations victory in 1974, boasts an astounding 63 appearances with Ireland and 17 test matches under his belt while playing as part of the British and Irish Lions. His admirable leadership and commitment make him one of rugby’s most iconic figures in Ireland’s history. To this day, he is still remembered fondly by fans worldwide who are inspired by what he accomplished during his time on the field — setting both personal records such as 21 consecutive victories with The Lions squad, but also paving the way for later generations within which success had become more achievable due to all that Willie achieved throughout sport’s evolution over decades past.

Mike Gibson: The Versatile Back

Mike Gibson is a giant in Irish rugby, having represented Ireland for 15 years and attained 69 caps with 112 points. He was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame as well as the International Rugby Hall of Fame and received an MBE for his contribution to the game. His versatility, ability and loyalty to sport made him one of the greatest players ever from Ireland who went on to play for the British Lions too.

His accomplishments will remain etched in history inspiring future generations not only at home but all around the international level where rugby continues its legacy due to Mike’s influence..

Tom Kiernan: The Accomplished Fullback

Tom Kiernan, an illustrious fullback who dedicated a 13-year career to Ireland and is honored with the title of one of Irish rugby’s all-time greats due to his 52 consecutive match victories plus 24 times as captain. His legendary status was cemented by earning 54 caps at full-back and kicking winning points in the first ever victory against South Africa for Ireland in 1965 – granting him the nickname ‘the Grey Fox’.

His entire playing history captures his commitment to the sport, inspiring countless players since through exemplifying what it takes to achieve greatness on both individual and team levels thus leaving a rich legacy behind for generations across Irish Rugby history.

Johnny Sexton: The Current Captain

jonathan sexton

PierreSelim, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Johnny Sexton, the current leader of Ireland’s rugby squad, has demonstrated an extraordinary dedication to his sport and earned himself 113 international caps. As captain of this team, he steered them in their monumental achievement (winning against New Zealand All Blacks for the first time ever as well as being victorious on South African soil back in 2016) a feat which was made even more special when they clinched their 3rd Grand Slam victory while under his command.

Sexton can be credited with having left a distinct legacy behind. Inspiring generations after him by demonstrating what drive and commitment alongside true leadership looks like within Irish Rugby history, creating an everlasting emblem that is synonymous with sporting success from Ireland’s National Team.

The Impact of Irish Rugby on the World Stage

Rugby has a long and storied history in Ireland, dating all the way back to 1888 with their first Lions tour. Irish players have gone on countless tours since then, playing an invaluable role in matches that had global implications for both world rankings and international rugby competitions like the Rugby World Cup. The IRB (International Rugby Board), which governs union events such as those mentioned above recognizes them as one of its member nations. They also field four professional teams within various leagues across multiple countries– A testament to their importance in driving sports at large around the globe.

The British and Irish Lions Connection

The amazing impact Irish rugby players have made on the British and Irish Lions is highlighted by their regular inclusion in this prestigious team. Many famous names from Ireland, including Brian O’Driscoll, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson and Robbie Henshaw are just a few of those to have been chosen for the line-up over time. John Dawes (1971) and Paul O’Connell (2009), both had spells as captains during tours with the Lions revealing an intrinsic relationship between Rugby Ireland’s finest individuals and The Lions squad.

Their skill set combined with determination has seen them contribute significantly to tournament results achieved which cannot be underestimated – these players hold invaluable guidance roles within such celebrated teams. Influencing performances both out there on the field playing but also off it through strategy talks or decision-making procedures before games kick off et cetera.. Irrespective of that particular tour result though they’ve all left their mark etched into international success stories related back to The British & Irish Lion family who acknowledge many strengths manifested throughout featuring participants linked directly again each other via national origin associations belonging solely Celtic People living today across respective home nations sections globally recognised worldwide united together thanks principally acclaimed input derived form IRISH RUGBY PLAYERS ultimately!

Ireland’s Role in the International Rugby Board

As one of the founding members, Ireland has strongly influenced worldwide development and governing decisions related to rugby through their presence on the International Rugby Board. Professional provincial teams and a successful national team have elevated interest in rugby union within Irish borders, consequently raising its overall popularity beyond them as well. The country is at work with key reforms meant to benefit international rugby like opting into World Rugby’s global trial aiming to lower tackle heights, building an efficient model for sustaining it in Ireland itself via consultation between parties concerned, as well as reformulating governance structures associated with World Rugby’s developments too. Thanks largely to Ireland’s collaborative efforts from all involved, this sport continues booming globally while solidifying its own status among major players of the game.

Betting on Irish Rugby Players: A Guide by Betmaster provides a comprehensive guide for those wanting to place bets on Irish rugby union teams and players. With numerous betting options, punters can bet on the potential tournament winner as well as particular games or awards at any given time. Live In-Play is also available for users who wish to take their gambling experience further. Whether you are an experienced player or a newbie trying your luck, gives everyone the opportunity of capitalizing from their knowledge of rugy by providing them with an easy-to-use platform where they have a chance to win big!

How to Bet on Irish Rugby Players at Betmaster

Navigating the betting markets and odds for rugby union at is straightforward: firstly, visit their website before searching in ‘Sports’ to find either ‘Rugby Union’ or specific matches/tournaments. Then select a desired market – such as the outright winner of an Irish match – add it on your bet slip with the chosen stake amount. Review all selections before you confirm them. When betting on games related to Ireland’s rugby players be sure that registration has been completed beforehand and log into your account so you can explore various bets like win ones or each-way bets plus potentially taking advantage of offers including free wagers and casino bonuses once certain requirements are met!

Betting on rugby at Betmaster Ireland is very simple and can be done by anyone, from the most experienced punters to beginners. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to help you get started:

  1. Registration and deposit: First, you will need to create your account if you don’t already have one. The registration process is easy and only takes a few minutes. After creating your account, you will need to deposit funds to start betting.
  2. Navigate to the rugby section: Once logged into your account, navigate to the sports section and find the rugby category. You will usually see different tournaments and leagues listed, such as the Six Nations, Rugby World Cup and club leagues.
  3. Choose the event and market: Once you have found the event you want to bet on, click on it to see the different betting markets available. You can pick from various options such as Match Winner, Handicap, Over/Under in Points and much more.
  4. Place your bet: Select the market you wish to bet on, and it will be added to your bet slip. Enter the amount you want to bet and confirm the bet.
  5. Track and collect your winnings: After placing your bet, you can track its performance in real time through the Betmaster Ireland platform. If your bet is successful, your winnings will automatically be added to your account balance, from where you can make a withdrawal.

Navigating Rugby Union Betting Odds

Rugby union betting odds are a great way to make informed decisions when placing bets on rugby matches. These odds represent the probability of an event occurring and can be displayed as fractional odds, such as 5/1. This indicates that there is a 16.67% likelihood of winning if you placed £1 bet on Ireland in the Six Nations or South Africa at the World Cup at this set rate. For which you would win £5 with your original stake also returned back to you upon victory..

Bookmakers take various factors into consideration when setting these probabilities – including team form, player injuries, past performance records and other relevant statistics, whilst ensuring their profitability by adding margin included within each odd value. Having greater knowledge about how rugby Union betting works with regard to potential wins gives better insight before deciding where best place one’s bets for maximum returns.


As we celebrate the top 10 greatest Irish rugby players, including Keith Wood and Johnny Sexton whose accomplishments have created a legacy around this sport on both Ireland’s and world stages, let us not forget to add more excitement by engaging in rugby union betting at Their commitment has been key to preserving an impressive history of Irish rugby, one that will be remembered forevermore! Here’s to continued success across the globe when it comes to Ireland & Rugby Union!

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the current best Irish rugby player?

In 2022, Josh van der Flier won the World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year award, making him the third Ireland player to attain such a feat after Keith Wood and Jonathan Sexton. This prestigious achievement proves his status as one of today’s best rugby players from Ireland.

Rugby is an integral part of Irish culture and receiving this accolade really celebrates just that for Van de Flier, allowing fans all around the world to recognise how great Irish talent can be when competing on an international level.

Who is the number 7 Irish rugby player?

Number 7 is the open-side flanker. As of right now,  Josh van der Flier is Ireland’s number 7 rugby player.

Who is the most famous Irish rugby player?

Brian O’Driscoll, Ireland’s most celebrated rugby player who wore the national jersey from 1999-2014, is remembered as an icon in his sport. His career shone brighter than greats such as Keith Wood, Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara who all made their own mark on Irish Rugby during this period. Along with Rory Best currently leading that legacy into the present day.