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Top 5 cross-coders of all time

Rugby union and rugby league might have a somewhat chequered past, but there have been plenty of players to grace the highest levels of each sport. 

The likes of Jason Robinson, Brad Thorne and Sonny Bill Williams have all gone onto lift the Rugby World Cup after a solid rugby league career, and it doesn’t stop there.

Jonathan Davies, Chris Ashton and Semi Radrada have all gone onto become household names in both sports, and the likes of Owen Farrell, George Ford and Jamie Blamire also grew up playing the 13 man code.

Elsewhere, Sam Burgess and Andy Farrell have also given both rugby union and rugby league a go on the international stage.

But with so many players playing across the two codes, who stands out above the rest? With that in mind, here are the top five cross-coders of all time.

Top 5 cross-coders of all time

Brad Thorn

Fans of the 15-man game might not even know Thorn played rugby league. Thorn made his debut for the Broncos back in 1994, and across two stints registered an impressive 200 appearances for the club, and was also capped eight times by Australia. He also represented Queensland in State of Origin. During his two stints in league, Thorn also won three NRL titles and a World Club Championship Despite a glittering league career, his switch to union made him a household name. Thorn went onto make 59 appearances for the All Blacks, lifting a World Cup, three Tri-Nations Cups and five Bledisloe Cups. He also won the Super Rugby title with the Crusaders and the Heineken Cup with Leinster.

Sonny Bill Williams 

Thorn’s All Blacks teammate Sonny Bill Williams also had a fantastic career in both codes. He began his playing days with the Canterbury Bulldogs back in 2004, making 73 appearances for the club. He then switched codes to union to join Toulon, and also had a spell with the Crusaders. In 2013, he went back to league for a spell at the Sydney Roosters, before jumping over once again to union ahead of the 2015 World Cup. During his career in the 15-man game, he lifted back-to-back World Cups with the All Blacks, and also won a Super Rugby title with the Chiefs. He also lifted two NRL Premierships in league.

Jonathan Davies 

Probably the most iconic cross-coder of all time is Welsh legend Jonathan Davies. The Welsh wizard began his career in union with Neath, and went onto have a spell with Llanelli before his switch to league. Davies moved to Widnes in 1989, and went onto make 126 appearances for the club, before moving to Australia with the Canterbury Bulldogs. He then returned to the UK to join Widnes again, then moved to Warrington; all before heading down under again to join North Queensland. He then switched back to union at the end of his career to join Cardiff. During his career, he represented Great Britain and Wales a collective 19 times in league, and also won 37 caps for Wales in union.

Chris Ashton

Another player some fans of the 15-man game might not remember came from league. Chris Ashton started his career with Wigan Warriors in 2005, and went onto make 51 appearances for his home town club. He also won 4 caps for England. He then made the switch to union in 2007, joining Northampton Saints, and quickly became one of the most potent wingers in the game. Ashton still holds the record for tries scored in both the Premiership and in the Champions Cup too. Ashton also lifted three Premiership titles, two Champions Cups, two Premiership Cups and one Championship title across his time with the Saints, Saracens, Sale Sharks, Worcester, Harlequins and Leicester Tigers. He also had a fine international career too, winning 44 caps and helping England to win a Six Nations title.

Jason Robinson 

Another former Wigan Warrior makes our list. Jason Robinson began his career in Cherry and White in 1992, and made over 280 appearances for the club. He was also a core part of the side that won a Super League Grand Final, as well as four Championships and four Challenge Cups. Robinson also represented England and Great Britain a collective 19 times. He then made the switch into union, and again became an icon of the game. Robinson was a key part of England’s World Cup-winning team in 2003 and also won 51 caps. The winger also went onto represent the British and Irish Lions in two test matches against Australia in 2001. He also had a brilliant rugby union club career with Sale Sharks, lifting a European Challenge Cup and a Premiership title.