Home International Rugby The 5 Toughest Rugby Players Of The Professional Era

The 5 Toughest Rugby Players Of The Professional Era

by Saba Gulmagarashvili

Everyone enjoys seeing a hard bastard represent their team, and England, New Zealand, and South Africa have all had their fair share of them during the professional era.

The 1990s and 2000s were a breeding ground for rough tackles and bust-ups aplenty, but they’re a vanishing breed.

Here are some of the most famous and vicious hard men to play in the professional era of rugby union. This is by no means a comprehensive list.

Bakkies Botha (South Africa)

He was able to stand out as the Springboks’ enforcer for a decade in an era when it was more difficult to ‘establish yourself’ as a hard guy since there are so many TV cameras around these days.

Bakkies and Martin Johnson are my dream number 4 picks - KEO.co.za

Jerry Collins (New Zealand)

With his violent tackling and deadly ball-carrying, he frightened. Simply ask Colin Charvis, who was knocked out cold by one of Collins’ tackles during a New Zealand v Wales match.

Car crash kills ex-All Black Jerry Collins | News | DW | 05.06.2015

Martin Johnson (England)

The former England captain was a tough cookie, once having to leave the pitch to have an eye cut treated before returning a few minutes later.

British & Irish Lions | Feature: The Rise Of Martin Johnson

Paul O’Connell (Ireland)

Paul O’Connell is the type of person you should avoid at all costs. He stands over six feet tall and has the head of a battering hammer.

Paul O'Connell retires as one of rugby's finest captains, an inspiration in Ireland and beyond

Jacques Burger (Namibia)

His unkempt hair and malformed nose attest to his years spent hammering away at the breakdown as a player capable of excelling in all three back-row positions.

Stunning new compilation is definitive proof that Jacques Burger is the hardest man ever to have played rugby | Rugby Onslaught

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