Best Premiership Rugby Players of all time
I think if you asked almost anyone who has watched Premiership Rugby before who the best winger in the leagues history is, they would almost definitely go with Chris Ashton.
There was a big chance that we were never going to see Chris Ashton play in the Premiership because he started his playing career in Rugby League. He even played four games in Rugby League for England before making the switch to Rugby Union career with Northampton.
Ashton would end up having an incredibly long career in Premiership Rugby, despite starting out as not always a first option. In that time he had some incredible try scoring seasons, including being named Premiership Player of the Season at the end of the 2009-10 season after scoring 16 tries in just 20 games.
His most successful time was with Saracens, where Ashton scored a load of tries as well as winning two Premiership Rugby titles. He was he key attacking option of these teams, scoring loads of tries from out on the wing. Ashton is one of the fastest players in Premiership Rugby history which helped him to constantly get over the try line.
Ashton has finished his career brilliantly, winning a third Premiership Rugby title, this time with Leicester Tigers. It was with the Tigers that Ashton became the Premierships top try scorer of all time, as well as being the first man to score 100 tries in the Premiership.
A phenomenal player with the best try scoring record of all-time.
Martin Johnson might be best known as the man who lifted the Rugby World Cup trophy when England beat Australia in 2003, but he is also one of the best Premiership Rugby player’s of all time and a Leicester Tigers legend.
Johnson joined Leicester before the team had actually become professional and just a couple of years into the era of Premiership Rugby. He was very much the experienced figure in the Premiership once Leicester became incredibly successful.
Johnson is one of the most successful players in Premiership history, having won five Premiership titles including four in a row. It was not just his leadership which makes Johnson one of the best player’s in the leagues history.
He was consistently recognised as one of the best player’s in the league at the time. Johnson was the first player to be named Premiership Player of the season and is one of only two player’s to be given the award twice.
A monster in the set piece, Johnson is undoubtedly one of the best player’s in the history of Leicester Tigers and helped to shape that team into what it is today. The best captain in Premiership Rugby history, Johnson is undoubtedly a Premiership Rugby legend.
In the past, Premiership Rugby has been able to attract some of the best talent from overseas. Schalk Brits is certainly one of those player’s who had a massive impact on English Rugby despite not being an English international.
Born in South Africa, Brits played 51 times for the Stormers in Super Rugby before deciding that his future was not in South Africa. He looked for a move abroad and thankfully for Brits, Saracen’s used their big budget to sign the Hooker. He was just 28 years old when signed by Saracen’s and would play for the London side for almost a decade.
He slotted into the Saracen’s team almost immediately and started in the 2011 Premiership Rugby Final. Brits was named as the man of the match for that game, helping to lead Saracen’s to their first Premiership Rugby title.
Brits continued to be the starter throughout Saracen’s dominance of the 2010s, able to hold off up and coming youngster Jamie George in the process. Even when George did eventually become the starter, Brits was a phenomenal bench option and still featured with big minutes in the biggest games.
Brits is one of the hardest runners in Premiership Rugby history. If you go back and take a look at the performances Brits put in, you can see why he is on this list. He is the perfect example of a modern day Hooker who was incredibly fast and agile while still being more than powerful enough to play the position.
If you were to make a list of player’s Premiership Rugby fan’s would like to tackle the least then Alesana Tuilagi would almost definitely be near the top of that list.
At 6ft 3in and almost 20 stone, you can see why it was a dangerous task to tackle Tuilagi. Born in Samoa, Alesana moved to Europe to try to further his rugby career and it certainly worked out. He moved to Leicester Tigers in 2004 and with Leicester, he became one of the best players in Premiership Rugby history.
Tuilagi was a major part of the Tigers team which went to the Premiership Final nine straight years. A pair of tries in the 2007 Final helped Leicester glide past Gloucester and onto Tuilagi’s first Premiership title. He was the team’s second highest try scorer in that season, giving a lot of opportunities to Tom Varndell.
A three time Premiership champion, Tuilagi was one of the most difficult player’s you could tackle. It meant that he was often able to score tries with ease. Tuilagi led the league in tries in the 2010-11 season which the Tigers ended as Premiership Rugby runners-up.
The thing that made Tuialgi special was he was used almost anywhere in attack by Leicester. The Premiership had not really seen a player in the past who was as strong and as fast as Alesana Tuilagi. He could sit down any opposition attacker.
His importance is shown anytime you hear one of his former Leicester teammates talking about Alesana.
Similarly to Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio might be mostly remembered for his impact on the England Rugby team. He was a crucial part of the team which won the 2003 Rugby World Cup. But he is also one of the best Premiership Rugby player’s of all time.
Dallaglio is a one club man, having joined London Wasps in 1990 long before rugby was going to be professional. It is certainly not a stretch to say that Dallaglio is the greatest player to ever play for Wasps and he was even involved with the club after his retirement.
When he first joined Wasps, they were not a good team but Dallaglio was part of the team which broke through to win the Premiership in the 1996-97 season. However, by far his best moments in this Wasps side was towards the back end of Dallaglio’s career because he was the captain of an incredibly successful side.
The Wasps side of the 2000s is very much seen as one of the best Premiership Rugby team’s of all time. He became Wasps captain in 1998 and led the team out in the 2003 Premiership final which Wasps won comfortably. He was captain again the following year when Wasps defender their title against Bath.
He became the third captain to lead his side to a three-peat of Premiership Rugby titles in a legendary backline. His final game for the club was the 2008 Final where Dallaglio would captain Wasps past the other great side of the 2000s, Leicester Tigers.
An incredible player, Dallaglio is one of the best leaders and player’s in the history of Premiership Rugby.
Best Premiership Rugby players right now
Mainly due to the struggles of the England team at the moment, a lot of people are forgetting just how good Owen Farrell is, and there is a good argument that when he chooses to retire, he will go down as the greatest Premiership player of all time.
Farrell was the original prospect, having become the youngster ever player to play in professional rugby in England when he was 17. At just 20 years old, Farrell became Saracen’s starter at Fly-Half, getting a huge amount of responsibility at an early age.
Thankfully for Saracen’s, he immediately looked like a phenomenal player. It was his boot which took Saracen’s past Leicester Tigers in the 2011 Premiership Final, helping Saracen’s to their first title.
Since then, Farrell has been the team’s most important player for another five titles, with Farrell now being a six time Premiership winner and this could still keep going up. He is quickly starting to climb on some of the Premiership ranks, currently sitting in eighth on the all-time Premiership point scorers list.
Farrell has been the leader and orchestrator of this Saracen’s team, able to hand the ball off to some incredible talent around him. The salary cap breaches of Saracen’s has hurt his resume slightly, but Farrell is the best number 10 in the history of the league and deserves recognition as one of the best Premiership Rugby players of all time.
It would be wrong to talk about the best Premiership Rugby players right now without talking about the reigning Premiership Player of the Season. Ollie Lawrence won the award in the 2022/23 season for his brilliant, destructive performances throughout the year.
Born in Birmingham, Lawrence joined the academy of Worcester Warriors when he was just 15 years old, making his first team debut at age 18 against Sale Sharks. He made many more senior appearances in the 2018-19 season and was promoted to the senior squad a year later.
Lawrence looked like an incredible talent, even making his England debut in 2020. Injuries derailed his progress and Lawrence was slightly forgotten about until the end of the 2021-22 season when he helped Worcester win the Premiership Rugby Cup.
Not long after turning 23, Lawrence had to look for a new club due to Worcester Warriors going into administration. He moved to Bath in October of 2022 and has immediately looked like a superstar.
Able to cut through defences with ease, Lawrence has the combination of speed and power that all teams are looking for from their centres. His great performances have even led to Lawrence being recalled to the England team and it looks like he will play a crucial role at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
With Bath making some massive signings for next season, Lawrence could be part of a Bath team that races back to the top. There is no doubt that he is going to be one of the best player’s in the Premiership for a long time.
Ben Earl might not have a sparkling international career, but that can often make people forget just how good he is in Premiership Rugby. As a very sporty child, Earl eventually committed to Rugby and signed for the Saracens academy.
He made his debut for the team at age 18 in 2016. It did take a few years for Earl to become a starter as he was competing against players like Michael Rhodes, Jackson Wray and Maro Itoje for place on the flanks for Saracens.
It was really with Bristol Bears that Earl became one of the best player’s in the Premiership. He helped the Bears to the 2020 Challenge Cup title as well as helping them to finish first in the table in the 2020-21 Premiership season, with brilliant performances throughout.
The following season he returned to Saracen’s and made his mark on a very talented side, eventually being named Premiership Rugby Player of the season. It was a deserved award as Earl was the team’s second highest try scorer as well as being one of the biggest contributors in attack and defence.
Earl can really do it all. He is fast enough to break past backs in attack, while also being strong and smart enough to get over the ball at the ruck. His hattrick in the 2022 Premiership Rugby semi-finals was the perfect show of just how good Ben Earl really is. It really is a shock he is not playing regularly for England at the moment.
Premiership Rugby has had a lot of success with South African player’s in the past, with guys like Schalk Brits, Vincent Koch, Petrus du Plessis and Francois Louw all playing in Premiership Finals.
Jasper Wiese is now the Springbok who is playing exceptionally well in the Premiership. Having come through the Cheetahs team, Wiese was looking for a move which would give him the chance to play top flight rugby and impress the South African selectors. He has certainly done that with the Leicester Tigers.
He was the dominant force in pushing Leicester to the Premiership title in 2022. In the final, he dominant ball carrying was too much for Saracen’s and he scored a crucial try in that game. Wiese was named Player of the Match for his performance and he has certainly not slowed down with Leicester since.
While Ollie Lawrence had a better all-around season, Wiese’s form towards the back end of the year was out of this world. It truly looked like it was completely impossible to tackle Wiese at any point.
His performances have since meant that Wiese has been called up to the Springboks team and will feature heavily at the Rugby World Cup. Despite Leicester losing in the 2023 Premiership Rugby Semi-finals, he was still named as the Rugby Players Association Players’ Player of the Year.
If you were making a list of the most exciting players in the Premiership then Marcus Smith would likely be top of that list. Born in the Philippines, Smith started playing rugby when he was just seven years old.
He was spotted by the Harlequins academy when he was at Brighton College and made his professional debut when he was just 18 years old and he received a man of the match award a few weeks later for a brilliant performance against Wasps.
Over the last few years, Marcus Smith has become the best attacking Fly-Half in the Premiership. He has an incredibly long highlight reel with some brilliant moments throughout his young career.
The 2020-21 season was by far his best as Smith was able to lead Harlequins to the Premiership title despite the team struggling early on in the season. They kept on being able to pull off incredibly exciting comebacks, defeating Exeter in the highest scoring Premiership Rugby final of all time.
Smith has not yet been able to convert that attacking brilliance into international rugby, so there have been doubts about his quality. But everytime Marcus Smith plays in the Premiership he does something incredible.
Smith gets the best out of every attacker outside of him. A magician with the ball in his hand and with the boot, Harlequins would have struggled massively over the last few years without him.