The former Wales and Lions captain has been named as the most influential Welshman in the sport by Rugby World magazine.

According to rankings published in the September edition, Warburton is 21st in a list of 50 of the most powerful people in rugby.

That puts him ahead of the other two Welshmen who made the cut - second row totem Alun Wyn Jones (38th) and Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips (34th).

Wales coach Warren Gatland is six places behind Warburton in 21st and eight behind England counterpart Eddie Jones (19th),   with the most influential person according to Rugby World being, perhaps unsurprisingly, World Rugby vice-chairman and former Argentina scrum-half Agustin Pichot.

Of Warburton, Rugby World states: "His impact in rugby won't blow away on the breeze simply because he's worn his boots in anger for the last time.

 
Sam Warburton's injuries
Sam Warburton's injuries

"This is a man who led Wales a record 49 times, captained the Lions on successive unbeaten tours and became one of the greatest flankers to play the game.

"As the son of a Londoner, he has strong English roots. He supports Spurs and got behind England on their World Cup winning trail in 2003.

"His background has helped defuse the excessive nationalism that can spring up in sport. Love your country but don't hate opponents - his attitude reflects that and it helps put him on the highest pedestal."

Phillips meanwhile, is praised by the magazine for running the WRU in a 'transparent and prudent fashion' and for repairing a previously damaged relationship between the governing body and the regions.

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Lock Jones is, according to the magazine, poised to fill the captaincy boots of Sam Warburton.

"The consistency of his performances is remarkable and he drives others to reach those same standards," it states.

As for Gatland, Rugby World believes his influence could grow after he vacates the Wales job.

It's summary states: "When Gatland steps down as Wales coach after next year's World Cup,

he won't leave behind a hole to fill, he'll leave a veritable crater."


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