Welcome back to my “Top 5” rugby series. This 13-article series has been inspired by countless conversations among friends or other fans over the years and will see me selecting my top 5 men’s rugby players who are currently playing at each position.

With all of these lists, I am picking who I feel are the best 5 at each position, so there may be some surprises in there as I select the players who I feel are most appropriate to the position despite there being multiple ways to play many positions. I try to watch rugby from a broad range of leagues as well as plenty (or too much, depending how you ask) of Test matches, but I appreciate that I still have some blind spots, while a list like this is subjective; so while the majority of each article will be my list, I also set my good friend and occasional collaborator Phil the challenge to select his top 5, which I will include below. I’d also love to hear your picks, so go ahead and post them in the comments!

And so, having made it to the halves, let’s look at the fly halves.

Top 5

Owen Farrell

This may be a controversial place to start, but it feels like Owen Farrell is one of those players who will only really get the recognition he deserves once he retires. Memed for a few no-arms tackles, Farrell is in fact probably one of the best defensive 10s in the game, so much so that he is a legitimate option at centre too. Meanwhile in attack, he calmly controls the game with a range of passes and kicks, generally relying on doing the basics well and then just occasionally adding a moment of flair when the situation is right.

Beauden Barrett

The man many would probably consider the best player in the world, and the kind of player many England fans are hoping Marcus Smith can become. His range of passes and kicks is incredible (though his goal kicking is not always the most consistent) and his eye for an opportunity has undone many defences. Controversially, while I agree that he is a top 5 flyhalf, I actually think that he is better used at fullback (though he just misses out on the top 5 at that position!), where he can work as a second playmaker but also read the game from slightly further away from the defence.

Richie Mo’unga

As great as Barrett may be, Mo’unga would be my pick at 10 were I selecting the All Blacks XV. He’s never really been given the full control of a decent All Blacks XV, so we have rarely seen the best of him at Test level, but for the Crusaders he is clearly the key man, solid in defence and with incredible footwork in attack to match his range of passes and kicks. This guy almost wins games on his own! Could the 2023 Rugby World Cup finally be the stage on which he manages to shine for the All Blacks?

Finn Russell

An absolute magician with ball in hand. Has been called a maverick for much of his career due to the mesmeric attacking variation that very few playmakers would even dream of, but he has in fact matured to control a game first and foremost, while he is also super reliable off the tee. But what is truly impressive is his self-belief. Some attempts at something special may not pay off, but he just smirks them off and carries on with the game. With this guy on the pitch, Scotland are a much more dangerous animal.

Romain Ntamack

Perhaps goes unnoticed at times with the quality of players around him in the current French team, but Romain has quality enough to be much more than just the son of French legend Émile. Controls the game well and generally seems to pick the right pass or kick for the situation, but also has the pace and footwork to go himself. He has that French rugby flair in his blood that leave him calm and confident enough to start an attack in his own in-goal (just remember that break against New Zealand) but balances this well with the restraint and knowledge of when to pick his moments.

Phil’s top 5: Richie Mo’unga, Dan Biggar, Finn Russell, Beauden Barrett, Romain Ntamack

Who makes your top 5?

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