When it comes to rugby, it doesn’t always get the exposure to rival that afforded to football. Back pages are frequently adorned with pictures of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and managers such as Alex Ferguson and Brendan Rodgers, but what about rugby stars? Who are the best managers in rugby? What about the world’s top 5 players? If you want to read more about your favourite sport, look no further.

The most we tend to see of rugby players in UK tabloids outside of the 6 nations and the Rugby World Cup is stars such as Johnnie Wilkinson doing some fashion modelling in rugby clothing and corporate sponsorship (indisputably the sport’s David Beckham equivalent) and Thom Evans, the hunky Glasgow Warriors winger who is now seen more on the arm of Kelly Brook than on the rugby pitch.

Just because the sport doesn’t always get the exposure it deserves, it doesn’t mean that the players aren’t performing at their best and at a level that has been hard to match up to in the past. Below are some of the best players from the past 12 months:

Toby Flood: The English 27 year old fly half can also play centre and has proven to be one of the best young players in the England team and his current team, Leicester Tigers. Expect Flood to prove his worth once again in the upcoming 6 nations if he can avoid injury.

Thierry Dusautoir: The French captain and hero of the 2011 World cup was voted man of the match for his final performance against New Zealand. The 30 year old Flanker has repeatedly performed to the highest level with his great pace and ball carrying skills proving to be real assets.

Sergio Parisse: The 29 year old Number Eight was one of the highest capped youngsters for the Italian national side and is now the national team captain (since 2008). His regularly high level performances have seen Parisse rise to be one of Italy’s top players.

Johan Goosen: The 20year old Springbok flyhalf is certainly one to watch in the future for the South African national team. Before injury in his debut season in Super Rugby he scored a superb 145 points in his first 9 games. Has the potential to be a world beater.

Richie McCaw: Following the New Zealand All Blacks’ inaugural Rugby Championship win, Richie McCaw could take the All Blacks to the world record for number of consecutive un-beaten games. The 31 year old openside flanker has captained the team to the 2011 world cup and can expect to do so again soon.

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