Best scrum-half of all time?

Discussion in 'General Rugby Union' started by sCriv, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. big ginger 8

    big ginger 8 International

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2011
    Messages:
    8,631
    Country Flag:

    Ireland

    Club or Nation:

    Leinster

    One thing that doesn't get mentioned when comparing eras is simply that the player pool is far larger now. Even in a lot of traditional rugby nations. It's not just the better training, nutrition etc. The standard of athlete in comparison to the athlete of their day is now higher than it once was. This differentiates rugby from something like sprinting I would imagine as well as a recent enough switch to professionalism.
     
  2. Forum Ad Advertisement

  3. big ginger 8

    big ginger 8 International

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2011
    Messages:
    8,631
    Country Flag:

    Ireland

    Club or Nation:

    Leinster

  4. Umaga's Witness

    Umaga's Witness Bench Player

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    932
    Country Flag:

    New Zealand

    Club or Nation:

    Hurricanes

    Indeed.

    At least in terms of population. But a rediculously higher percentage of boys played rugby in nz when it was amateur compared to now
     
  5. bushytop

    bushytop First XV

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2011
    Messages:
    3,045
    Location:
    Here be dragons!
    Country Flag:

    Wales

    Club or Nation:

    London Welsh

    Against the grain (as per) I have never really had an issue comparing era's as although obviously different, I personally believe the same players who excelled in one era would also excel in a separate era if they had been privy to that other era's coaching, nutrition, competition etc. Just my opinion though.
     
  6. TRF_heineken

    TRF_heineken RIP #J9

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Messages:
    10,620
    Location:
    Polokwane, South Africa
    Country Flag:

    South Africa

    Club or Nation:

    South Africa

    I think that's applicable in certain positions.

    Let's take lock for example, in the earlier era, the guys were never over 2m tall, now you hardly get a lock under 2m. But as a whole, I agree with you, rugby is either in your blood or it isn't, regardless of your size/weight/height
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. themole25

    themole25 First XV

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2015
    Messages:
    2,091
    Location:
    Sad Meow
    Club or Nation:

    Western Province

    so in American sports we divide sports into eras for terms of record keeping.

    Tennis and Golf have open era
    Baseball has live ball and dead ball with 1900 being the usual dividing line
    Hockey has a couple post expanison and post 1918

    I'd imagine rugby will be doing the same with terms of the professional era.

    The skillset of scrum halves has really changed over time. from what I've watched of old games it was a lot more digging the ball out of rucks/scrums as they were more contested/cluster**** than they are now.

    All the advantages of professionalism mean no player from amateur era could match the players today. I'd even go as far to say that players up until 2008ish would struggle in the modern game (obviously there were some great athletes in that era but on average) as rugby took awhile to professionalize once they started to pay players in the open.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  8. bushytop

    bushytop First XV

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2011
    Messages:
    3,045
    Location:
    Here be dragons!
    Country Flag:

    Wales

    Club or Nation:

    London Welsh

    I wasn't suggesting just transplanting them straight in... more that if they were born later and nurtured through the modern systems, I'm confident they would still rise to the top.
     
  9. snoopy snoopy dog dog

    snoopy snoopy dog dog First XV

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
    Messages:
    4,541
    Club or Nation:

    Leinster

    Best I've seen are George Gregan, Joost van der Westhuizen and Fabien Galthié.

    I'd love to see what Cameron Smith could have done if he switched codes in his prime.
     
  10. themole25

    themole25 First XV

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2015
    Messages:
    2,091
    Location:
    Sad Meow
    Club or Nation:

    Western Province

    i mean... what if i was born in a rugby playing nation/ rugby playing city in america.

    that's a lot of variables to change... playing what ifs is a never ending game.
     
  11. bushytop

    bushytop First XV

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2011
    Messages:
    3,045
    Location:
    Here be dragons!
    Country Flag:

    Wales

    Club or Nation:

    London Welsh

    Just abstract thought my friend, something surprisingly few of us can muster anymore.
     
  12. RedruthRFC

    RedruthRFC First XV

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2011
    Messages:
    1,627
    Country Flag:

    England

    Club or Nation:

    England

    First post for a while, just to repeat something that I've said before here. I really don't understand the difficulty in comparing eras - to me it's how they looked against their peers, which in turn means that you need to be very well steped in rugby history to be able to offer an opinion. Of the rugby I've watched myself and have had the opportunity to look back upon thanks to the footage available, it's Edwards hands down.

    Sports that are easier to distill down into meaningful (I mean you RugbyPass) statistics make comparisons easier. Don Bradman must be the classic case in point. The game has moved on since he played, but his name is quite rightly thrown in to any greatest ever conversation because he was that much better (statistically) than anyone who played the game, before and since.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Umaga's Witness

    Umaga's Witness Bench Player

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    932
    Country Flag:

    New Zealand

    Club or Nation:

    Hurricanes

    You've alluded to the point that rugby cannot be distilled into statistics. You've also suggested that you need to be well steeped in rugby history. But rugby history, apart from the statistics, is just the opinions of the few that recorded it and the rehashing of said opinions by others. There is no way that can be called your opinion. So it is important not to offer it as such. Because the point of discussions like these is to hear the range of opinions, and their weight in numbers, so the person who wrote "history of rugby" does not deserve more votes than the rest. State what they said, sure, but don't use their opinion to compare to yours (the opinion you have gained from watching or playing with or against players).

    Just my thoughts.
     
  14. TRF_heineken

    TRF_heineken RIP #J9

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Messages:
    10,620
    Location:
    Polokwane, South Africa
    Country Flag:

    South Africa

    Club or Nation:

    South Africa

    Well that, and things like Apartheid which prevented South Africa from playing tests or other international teams. Which also had an effect on other games and protests around the world. That alone was a 20 year gap where some classy players didn't get the chance to show what they can do, or get the recognition around the world.
     
  15. Cruz_del_Sur

    Cruz_del_Sur First XV

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2011
    Messages:
    2,559
    Location:
    Yurop
    Country Flag:

    Argentina

    Club or Nation:

    CASI

    True, but i dont think as a south african you are aware of the aura that that created on the springboks. Rephrase: the way the outside world saw the springboks.
     
  16. unrated

    unrated First XV

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2010
    Messages:
    1,036
    Location:
    KZN
    Country Flag:

    South Africa

    Club or Nation:

    Sharks

    What was that?
     
  17. Cruz_del_Sur

    Cruz_del_Sur First XV

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2011
    Messages:
    2,559
    Location:
    Yurop
    Country Flag:

    Argentina

    Club or Nation:

    CASI

    I'll exaggerate a bit here and there for dramatic purposes, and i know some will disagree, but i've talked about this with enough people from enough places to know that, maybe not a majority, but i am at least part of a significant minorty in this view.

    It's a mellange of things i suppose: talent, passion, a somewhat romantic political background*, and context. When someone told you "check this guys" its not as if you could google him, and watch last weeks youtube clips of his games. Most of the info at the time came from newspaper articles and mouth-to-mouth stories and anecdotes. It's not as if you could watch every game live when your national team played away. Watching a deferred game was a luxury (mostly because time zone differences and the fact that tv wasnt running 24/7). Getting copies of games in VHS too.

    Imagine you just started watching rugby. Say 1980s. And you start reading and watching about the sport and everyone tells you about the all blacks, and how good they are. Then the first world cup comes along, and the expectations are huge. Everyone wants to be claimed as the first world champion. You are very excited and try to watch every game you, drooling. The all blacks dont dissapoint and win categorically. History is made.

    So there you are, a week after that telling your non-rugby friends what happened: "you HAVE to see these guys, they are amazing, out of this world stuff. Another class. Unbeatable". Suddenly, from across the room a voice says "not quite". Then you are told this story about this not so rich country, who is not allowed to compete for political reasons, a pariah. The problem is, this outcast, this reject, happens to have a positive record against the unquestionable champions. Your first intinct is "not true", "impossible". But you do your best to see if that was true, a not easy task at the time (no internet), trust me, and find out it was actually true. So you ask yourself who are these guys?

    Well, those are the ingredients for great storytelling. Talent, political problems, poor vs rich, general lack of reliable info, a hero and a false anti hero who is not allowed to participate. This is pretty much it.

    It's as if you were told about dragons, but someone forgot to tell you about dragon slayers.
    Basically, the springboks were seen as the team who inspired respect from a team that, results showed, respected no one.

    And the more details you found, the more romantic the story became: all countries had sparring partners (aus and nz, 4 nations and france). RSA did not. It was them against the world.
    And, to crown it all, when they were allowed to play, they won.

    And i know rugby didnt start in the 1980s, but i chose it as 1987 was, whether we like it or not, a pivotal moment in rugby.

    Again, I am exaggerating, course. And another thing. Some other teams appeal was there by design. Take the all blacks. The colour, the haka, etc. It was a choice (some say the shirt colour wasnt but that for another thread). The springboks didnt chose what happened to them. They didn't choose to be a top 1-2 team. They didn't choose to play for a country that happened to support apartheid. They just played.

    Not particularly happy how this post turned out, but i hope it paints a decent picture and answers the question.

    *: just to be absolutely clear, i am not saying apartheid was romantic. I am saying being left out for political reasons adds romanticism to the springboks brand at the time.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Old Hooker

    Old Hooker First XV

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2015
    Messages:
    2,706
    Country Flag:

    England

    Clearly a totally unanswerable question. Best is totally subjective at the best of times, let alone cross era.

    But if you’re looking for the scrummie who was the perfect fit for the era and most complemented the teams in which he played then look no further than England and Lions fourth flanker Dewi Morris :)
     
  19. Tigs Man

    Tigs Man Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2013
    Messages:
    16,517
    Location:
    LimerDick
    Country Flag:

    Puerto Rico

    Club or Nation:

    Wigan

    No Harry ellis no care.
     
  20. Leinster Fan

    Leinster Fan First XV

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2017
    Messages:
    1,859
    Location:
    Dublin
    Country Flag:

    Ireland

    Club or Nation:

    Leinster

    Stringer? Wtf. I love him, but he isn't even the best 9 to play for Munster over the last 15/20 years. From an Irish perspective, Conor Murray is easily our best 9 ever and I wouldn't have him near this conversation.
     
  21. Old Hooker

    Old Hooker First XV

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2015
    Messages:
    2,706
    Country Flag:

    England

    Think I read that he’s been playing in the centre at 3rd team level for a junior club after a rough few years.
     
Enjoyed this thread? Register to post your reply - click here!

Share This Page