This week we formulate our rankings with a view to who are the elite scrum-halves in world rugby at the moment. In a position where consistency at the highest level is seemingly hard to come by, the Top 5 could have potentially changed on numerous occasions throughout the course of the season.
But with the European season now at an end we decided we would take a dig at outlining who reigns atop the number nine elite in the world.
The stock of Rhys Webb had been rising considerably prior to a serious foot injury which had ruled him out for a significant portion of the season just passed. However when fully fit the Osprey has displayed on-field performances indicative of his evolution as a scrum-half thus becoming a mainstay for the Welsh number nine jersey.
Webb possesses all the acute characteristics and wherewithal of an elite scrum-half as he has become proficient in leading opposing players astray around the breakdown and in capitalising to run in some crafty tries. Webb will be very much looking to put his injury behind him and push on to have a strong 2016/17 season in order to state his claim for the starting Lions scrum-half position.
Ruan Piennar has been one of the world’s elite scrum-halves for quite some time now. Since moving to Belfast the 31-year world cup winner has shown time-and-time again his international standing and worth. Such is his renowned quality, much interest has been generated from right across Europe’s money-laden clubs with the likes of Toulon making an offer for the South African.
However, much to the delight of Ulster fans, Pienaar has committed his future to the northern province who will have genuine title ambitions next season on both a European and domestic front having assembled a squad of real class; with Pienaar right at the fore.
26-year old Ben Youngs is a very smooth operator at the rear of both the Leicester Tigers and England scrums. It would seem that the 61-times capped England international is currently ahead of Danny Care in the England set-up and if recent form is anything to go by, then it would appear that things will remain that way in Eddie Jones’ squad over the foreseeable future.
As the son of a former Leicester scrum-half, the intricacies of the position are in his blood with few players more adept in the position than Youngs.
The Limerick native has emerged as one of the genuine leaders in both the Munster and Ireland squads over the last number of seasons, and such is his worth to Munster that any injury, or even departure (dare we mention such a harrowing prospect) from the Irish province would leave the side’s already challenging prospects in serious jeopardy.
Murray has mastered the box kick to such sheer precision that it has become one of Joe Schmidt’s predominant tools in Ireland’s attacking arsenal and has aided in Ireland’s success of two successive 6 Nations triumphs. Murray also provides a physical element with ball in hand, has an eye for the try line when presented with a chance and commands the back line with superiority.
If the British and Irish Lions were to play their first test with New Zealand tomorrow, Murray would be a shoe in for the starting number nine position.
Such is Smith’s importance to the All Blacks that he has somewhat subsided the authority of back play from the out-half position to number nine.
The speed, range and precision of his passing is key to how New Zealand play in opening defences for no-one exploits space quite like the world champions do. It is well known amongst opposing sides the degree of success you will enjoy against the world champions depends on how well Smith’s input can be tamed.
Read More About: aaron smith, All Blacks, ben youngs, British and Irish lions, conor murray, England, Ireland, leicester tigers, Lions, Munster, new zealand, Ospreys, rhys webb, ruan pienaar, rugby union, Top 5, ulster, Wales