The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The loosehead props


Os du Randt. Photo: ALLSPORT

Os du Randt (South Africa)

The man known as the Ox is the only non-Australian to win the World Cup twice. He is widely considered to be the greatest loosehead prop of all time with his scrummaging ability, athleticism and effectiveness in open play. Both World Cup victories were at the extremes of his career. Du Randt was 22 when the Springboks stunned the All Blacks in the 1995 final but the 2007 win was an even greater achievement. Forced to retire in 2000 after a serious injury, du Randt eventually recovered and decided to return to rugby three years later. Despite doubts about his durability he was an integral cog in the 2007 victory including a man-of-the-match performance in the semi-final against Argentina, the best scrummaging team at the World Cup.

Jason Leonard. Photo: AP

Jason Leonard (England)

Another early starter. Leonard was 21 when he debuted in 1990, the first of what would become a record 119 caps for both England and the British & Irish Lions. He is still the most capped player in World Cup history with 22 appearances in four tournaments. He was both durable – he once played 40 consecutive Tests in the 1990s – and versatile as proven by his switch from loosehead to tighthead prop later in his career. He was a member of the team that lost the World Cup final to Australia in 1991 but gained revenge against the same opponents 12 years later in the final in Sydney.

Rodrigo Roncero. Photo: Iain McGregor

Rodrigo Roncero (Argentina)

Another member of the Pumas’ fantastic front-row from the 2007 World Cup. Such was his power at the set piece, Roncero was widely considered to be the best prop of the tournament. The doctor from Buenos Aires made his Test debut in 1998 but did not make his first World Cup appearance until 2003. His international rugby ended after the Pumas made their first foray in the Rugby Championship in 2012.

Steve McDowell. Photo: Getty Images

Steve McDowell (New Zealand)

A tough-as-teak prop who also possessed silky ball skills. McDowell was a member of the all-conquering All Blacks team of the late 1980s and formed a formidable front-row partnership with Richard Loe and Sean Fitzpatrick. He made his debut in 1985 and represented New Zealand 46 times before being shown the door in 1992 after a player purge. He was a member of the New Zealand team that won the World Cup final in 1987 against France and lost the semi-final to Australia in 1991.

Tony Woodcock. Photo: Getty Images

Tony Woodcock (New Zealand)

Another member of the great All Blacks side that has denied the Wallabies Bledisloe Cup success since 2002. The 34-year-old has represented New Zealand 115 times and for much of his career he has been considered the best loosehead prop in the world. He was a member of the New Zealand team that suffered a shock loss in the 2007 World Cup quarter-final against France but bounced back to score the All Blacks’ only try in the 2011 final against the same opponents. He played in all five matches for New Zealand this season and is set to play in his third World Cup.

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