Iconic Players of TOP 14
A look at some of the most iconic rugby players, past and present, to have participated in the TOP 14 league. It will be updated all year long with new famous players!
Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon, 2009-2014)
Jonny Wilkinson (England)
The former Toulon fly-half, Jonny Wilkinson, or also lovingly nicknamed ‘Sir Jonny’ by French Toulon supporters, is best known for becoming captain of the English rugby national team and scoring the winning drop goal in the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final. When playing for Toulon, however, Sir Jonny did not disappoint - he led the team to two Heineken Cup victories (2012/2013, 2013/2014) and a Top 14 final victory in 2014, the same year he hung his boots for good. Shortly after retirement, Wilkinson was induced into the World Rugby Hall of Fame, along with other exceptional players.
Tana Umaga (New Zealand)
New Zealand native, Tana Umaga, and the former All Black captain (2004-2005) originally joined the Top 14 league, not as a player, but as coach for Toulon during the 2008/2009 season. He was off to a rocky start as Toulon was struggling midseason and was in danger of relegation. Instead of continuing as coach, Umaga returned to the field and helped his team exit relegation trouble, eventually making it to 9th place that season. Shortly afterwards, he announced his retirement as a player.
Matt Giteau (Australia)
Australian utility back, Matt Giteau, was a key force for Toulon when the team wrote history in 2015 for winning three successive European titles. He is now playing closer to home in Japan for Suntory Sungoliath, and has unsurprisingly become indispensable to the Japanese.
Carl Hayman (New Zealand)
New Zealander, Carl Hayman, was one of a sizeable number of high-profile players that signed for Toulon. There, he played as tighthead prop and started in the final game against Clermont Auvergne, which Toulon won by 16-15, making them the champions of the 2013 Heineken Cup. Hayman hung his boots at the end of the 2014/2015 season.
Vincent Clerc (France)
Another Frenchman on our list of iconic Top 14 players is Vicent Clerc, Clerc played most of his professional career, about 14 years, as winger for Stade Toulousain after having left FC Grenoble in 2002. Clerc played most of his professional career, about 14 years, as winger for Stade Toulousain after having left FC Grenoble in 2002. Vincent Clerc’s list of achievements is quite impressive as he has won three Top 14 titles (2008, 2011, and 2012), three European Cups (2003, 2005, and 2010), three victories in the Six Nations Tournament (2004, 2007 and 2010), for which he achieved the Grand Slam in both 2004 and 2010.
Brock James (Australia)
Australian (and now French naturalised) fly-half, Brock James, hardly needs an introduction. Although Brock James was relatively unknown when he started his French career with ASM Clermont Auvergne, he proved himself right from the beginning as he started in every game, and was named the top scorer of the league with a total of 380 points. The fly-half also holds a Top 14 record with ASM Clermont: in 2009, he scored 41 placed kicks in a row, beating the previous record of 35 kicks in a row by Romain Teulet.
Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa)
The youngest player on our list is Cheslin Kolbe, the South African fullback. Kolbe started his French rugby career when he signed on with the State Toulousain at the end of 2016. During 2018-2019, Kolbe was recognised as the best fullback of the season by fans. Not to mention, 2019 has been a great year for Kolbe as he won both the Top 14 final with the Stade Toulousain and the Rugby Championship with the South African team. Cheslin Kolbe still has a long career ahead of him to prove himself in the Top 14, but as we see it, it’s looking quite bright for this young player.