If there was ever time when rugby gloves ruled the sporting landscape, it was probably the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia. From Matt Dawson to Matt Giteau, George Smith to Stirling Mortlock, some of the best players in the world donned the gloves when they played.
Gloves have seemed to come and go -- mostly go -- over the years, but there are still the few who wear them. Here is our list of the five best players to ever wear gloves on the rugby pitch:
Arguably the greatest halfback of all time, New Zealand's Aaron Smith will always be remembered for his general-like qualities and his rocket pass off the deck. What may be forgotten, however, is that the maestro dipped his hands into the glove-wearing waters on a few occasions. The gloves didn't seem to hinder his pass too much, but the little scrum-half ditched them after a brief phase.
Still the first choice #9 for the All Blacks, Smith has spent his entire career in New Zealand where he's made 87 caps for the All Blacks, 137 for the Highlanders, and 43 for Manawatu.
Like Smith after him, Giteau sported gloves for a short stint in his early days with the Wallabies. Perhaps peer-pressured by the glove-wearing fashion trend of the 2003 World Cup, Giteau rocked those bad boys from his center position en route to the final. He may have forgotten all about them afterwards, but we haven't. He's one of the best to ever play the game, and for a while did so with some nice black gloves on.
Giteau notched 103 caps for the Wallabies in his career, and he was a key member of the Brumbies and the Western Force in Super Rugby before heading off to Toulon for six years, where the team became the most dominant in Europe. He has since spent the past three years in Japan.
Before he shaved off his long, flowing locks, George Smith was also a glove-touting flanker at the heart of Australia's run to the World Cup final in 2003. Smith's professional career spanned a remarkable 21 years, and included stops all across the globe. Smith has played for the Brumbies, Toulon, Lyon, Stade Francais, Wasps, the Reds, the Bristol Bears, and the Suntory Sungoliath in Japan. In addition to all his club stops around the world, Smith has appeared 111 times for the Wallabies.
Yet another member of the old Australia teams from the turn of the millennium, Mortlock was one of the most prolific point-scorers in the world during his time. An inside center that could score tries and kick goals, Mortlock could do it all. Even wear rugby gloves. Mortlock spent nearly his whole career with the Brumbies, before a quick stint with the Rebels before retiring. He made 80 caps for the Wallabies, scoring 489 points in his test career.
Perhaps the one man who never put his gloves away, Englishman Andy Goode has become somewhat of a cult figure in rugby circles. Despite not necessarily looking the part, Goode was a great fly-half in his day, leading Leicester through a period of dominance in the first decade of the millennium and making stops for Saracens, Brive, Wasps, the Sharks, Worcester, and Newcastle along the way. He also appeared 17 times for England and proved that a.) fly-halves have no size limits and b.) that you're never too old to wear gloves.