We take a look at the top scorers in men’s Rugby World Cup history since the competition began in 1987.
277 Points: Jonny Wilkinson (England)
1 Try, 28 Conversions, 58 Penalties, 14 Drop Goals
In addition to scoring arguably the most iconic Rugby World Cup points of all-time – nailing an extra-time drop goal to sink hosts Australia to win England their sole Webb Ellis Cup (to date) – the legendary Jonny Wilkinson has scored 50 more points than any other player in the competition’s history, thanks in part to his penchant for drop goals, slotting 14 of them between the sticks, over double the tally of any other player.
Wilkinson was one of four players to start both the 2003 and 2007 finals for the English (together with Jason Robinson, Ben Kay and Phil Vickery) scoring all six of England’s points as they finished runners-up against South Africa 15-6 in France, making the fly-half the only player to have scored points in two men’s Rugby World Cup finals.
227 Points: Gavin Hastings (Scotland)
9 Tries, 39 Conversions, 36 Penalties
Scottish icon Gavin Hastings is the only other player to have scored 200+ points in the men’s Rugby World Cup rankings, amassing 227 in total. It’s a tally that includes 12 points in Scotland’s only ever RWC quarter-final victory (against Samoa in 1991) and a gargantuan 44 points against Ivory Coast in 1995, which held the World Cup record until Simon Culhane broke it a week later by scoring 45 against Japan.
195 Points: Michael Lynagh (Australia)
4 Tries, 36 Conversions, 33 Penalties, 2 Drop Goals
Michael Lynagh fell just shy of reaching 200 Rugby World Cup points, but his eight points in the 1991 final against England were enough to secure Australia’s maiden title and seal his place in rugby folklore. Lynagh would go on to be captain in his last World Cup in 1995, where England exacted their revenge in the quarter-finals, and he finished his career as the Wallabies’ all-time leading points scorer in Test rugby (911).
191 Points: Dan Carter (New Zealand)
3 Tries, 58 Conversions, 17 Penalties, 3 Drop Goals
The highest-scoring All Black on this list is the legendary Dan Carter, who would have surely eclipsed the 200-point mark had injury not curtailed his involvement in the 2011 edition of the competition after just two group games. Carter recovered from that setback in 2015 to play a key role as the All Blacks became the first-ever side to retain the Webb Ellis Cup, scoring 19 points to firmly cement his status as one of the all-time greats.
After Beauden Barrett crossed the line in the last minute to deal a final hammer blow to Australia’s World Cup dreams, Carter stepped up to attempt the conversion with his right foot, the first time he had ever taken a place-kick on his weaker side, on what was his last ever kick for the All Blacks – the result was expected though, as he dissected the posts amid jubilant scenes at Twickenham.
170 Points: Grant Fox (New Zealand)
37 Conversions, 31 Penalties, 1 Drop Goal
Grant Fox’s tally of 170 points is made all the more remarkable by the fact he played just seven Rugby World Cup games. That means he scored 24.3 points on average every time he took to the field on world rugby’s most prestigious stage.
The Kiwi international scored 126 points in the inaugural rugby union tournament in 1987, a record high that still stands to this day, as the All Blacks became the first side to have their name engraved on the Webb Ellis Cup.
Who Could Break Into the Leading Point-Scorers in 2023?
Wilkinson’s record of 277 points shouldn’t be troubled during this year’s tournament. Argentina’s Nicolas Sanchez (117) and England’s Owen Farrell (101) are the only two players going into the Rugby World Cup with over 100 points to their name, while Wales’ Dan Biggar (97) and Ireland’s Johnny Sexton (78) are also within touching distance of their own centuries. The Springboks’ Handré Pollard (162) is closer, but won’t feature in this year’s tournament.