Over the years the Rugby World Cup has seen many heroic, tournament-defining performances from legendary flyhalves.
To cite possibly the greatest ever moment in any Rugby World Cup, the 2003 final was won with a perfectly struck drop goal by Jonny Wilkinson, sealing England’s only tournament win – and a first and so far only northern hemisphere triumph.
Today, the argument regarding who the best player to wear the number 10 for their nation is as controversial as it has been in a long time, as there is a plethora of quality, in youth and experience heading into this year’s World Cup.
5. Richie Mo’unga (New Zealand)
Despite his excellent, Super Rugby-winning season with the Crusaders, and the fact that he took the 10 shirt for the All Blacks away from Beauden Barrett, I’m still holding off calling Mo’unga a top-tier international flyhalf.
He simply does not matter to the All Blacks as much as the other players on this list to their respective sides. Not to mention, in a few of his recent matches, New Zealand have shown some uncharacteristic vulnerabilities. I need proof that he is truly deserving of replacing Beauden Barrett.
4. Finn Russell (Scotland)
When they play their style of rugby, Scotland are a seriously fun team to watch, and at the centre of that game is Finn Russell. Intelligent with ball in hand, and with many skilled attackers to feed the ball to, Russell is sure to have a great World Cup and show the world his ability, especially with matches agains lowly pool opponents, which will likely promise plenty of open, attacking rugby.
3. Handre Pollard (South Africa)
Pollard is potentially the most in-form player on this list. With a revived South African side under Rassie Erasmus set to enter the tournament firing on all cylinders, the Boks playmaker has also found form. He can be a distributor with great passing and kicking, and he has the pace to score tries, with an unteachable rugby IQ to back it up.
In South Africa’s last Test in the Rugby Championship, Pollard broke point-scoring records in a thrashing of Argentina in which he racked up two tries of his own. I’m looking forward to watching him against New Zealand tomorrow.
2. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
The 2018 World Rugby Player of the year has a choice of two narratives at this World Cup. After a shaky opening to the 2019 Test season, Sexton and Ireland (because that’s how much the Irish gameplan revolves around their flyhalf) can find form and contend for a World Cup, with their main man being the brilliant playmaker and match definer that won him and Ireland their 2018 accolades.
Or, he can completely disappear and with him, Ireland’s hopes of a semi-final appearance. Keep in mind that they likely face New Zealand or South Africa in the quarters.
1. Owen Farrell (England)
This is perhaps the strongest an England side has looked going into a World Cup since 2003, and the most complete player on the squad, and perhaps in the world, is Owen Farrell. His athleticism and versatility give England options with Farrell that, for example, Ireland do not have with Sexton.
The English captain’s all-around consistency as one of the world’s best in attacking and defensive rugby are what gives him the nod as the best flyhalf on the planet leading into this World Cup.