Over the years we have seen a number of players cross codes in rugby, moving from League to Union and vice versa. Whilst many of them have disappeared into obscurity in their new code, failing to make the impact they had hoped, some adapt and even manage to achieve a greater level of success in their new found sport and have gone on to become an icon of the game. Here are our top 10 cross coders, vote for your favourite below or let us know if we’ve missed someone out in the comments section…
World Cup winner, two times Lions tourist, first league convert to Captain England and a member of Sale Sharks 2006 Premiership winning team, never mind his exploits in league. Jason Robinson can truly be considered one of the greatest players in both codes and possibly the greatest of all the cross coders.
Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill Williams is possibly one of the greatest natural athletes any sport has seen, able to turn his hand to League, Union or even boxing. He remains only the second player ever to have played League for New Zealand before pulling on the All Blacks shirt which eventually led to a World Cup winners medal in 2011. Sure to return to Union before too long the world waits with anticipation to once again witness the magnificence of his off loading game.
It is very rare for a league convert to play within the forwards, but Brad Thorn has well and truly bucked this trend. Possibly one of the most decorated players in rugby, Thorn has pretty much won it all in both codes.Still going at the ripe old age of 38, Thorn truly has been one of the truly great exponents of Rugby League.
Despite only being in his first season of Union, and having failed to impress some fans in his first few months playing the game, Folau has since become a fan favourite for both the Tahs and Wallabies seemingly able to score tries out of nothing. His double in the opener against the Lions well and truly cementing his place on this list. We just hope he decides to stick with Union for the foreseeable future as he has become one of Australian sports hottest properties.
Although his recent form has drawn criticism from some quarters, Ashton must still be considered the most successful league convert since Jason Robinson. The ‘Ash Splash’ has become famous for a reason, and its not because of its obtuse nature, but simply because we see it so often. 17 tries in 30 internationals is no record to be mocked and if he can re-find the form of a couple of seasons ago he could well be key to England’s success in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
In his six years playing Union, Tuqiri managed to claim 67 caps scoring 30 tries in the process for Australia. He also enjoyed success with the Tahs and Leicester Tigers during his time in Union and despite his sacking by the ARU will still be remembered fondly by Aussie fans for his brilliant attacking play on the pitch.
Despite a number of incidents somewhat marring his time in Union he still remains one of the few League converts to successfully make a name for himself at fly-half in the game. He also mimicked his success in Union during two spells in League and will long be remembered by both codes of the game.
Messenger eventually became dubbed ‘the master’ as he is considered one of the greatest players to have played either code. Believed to be the first player to have crossed codes, Messenger well and truly is the standard-bearer for all the other players mentioned in this list. He was so successful in rugby both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United tried to sign him but he dismissed both offers considering football to be too decadent.
No not the recent Lions winner nicknamed ‘Fox’ but the chirpy commentator who is maybe just a little bias when Wales are playing. Davies is the first player on our list to have started his career in Union before converting to League at a later date. A true great in bot codes, Davies is still fondly remembered by fans around the globe after he had a stint playing in Australia.
One of the few players to have successfully played both codes before going on to enjoy a top level coaching career in the sport. Harris earned the nickname the ‘Welsh Wizard’ for his excellent play in both codes and despite living up to reputation in Union always had his heart set on a return to League unfortunately.
Vote now for your favourite cross coder or make a suggestion in the comments section below…