All eyes will be on France this September and October as the country hosts the 2023 Rugby World Cup. This will be the 10th edition of the tournament, and this year’s renewal looks like one of the most competitive yet.
South Africa are the reigning champions, having defeated England in the final of the 2019 tournament in Japan, and the Springboks are aiming to be only the second-ever country to win back-to-back Rugby World Cups.
With millions of fans worldwide tuning in to watch the action, each nation’s captain will become well-known as the tournament progresses. And in this article, we look closely at some of the rugby union team captains set to line up in France.
Sam Cane is a New Zealand rugby union player who plays as a loose forward for the Chiefs in Super Rugby and has been the All Blacks captain since 2020.
Cane is known as one of the top rugby union team captains in world rugby began playing rugby at a young age and represented his school, Rotorua Boys’ High School, at both provincial and national levels. He made his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs in 2011 and quickly established himself as a regular in the team. He won his first All Blacks cap in 2012 and has since won 86 caps for his country.
A versatile player, who can play as blindside flanker, openside flanker, or number eight, he is known for his powerful running, strong tackling, and ability to scavenge for turnovers.
In 2020, Cane was named captain of the All Blacks following the retirement of Kieran Read. He is the 21st captain of the All Blacks and the youngest since Richie McCaw in 2006.
Cane is a vital member of the All Blacks and considered one of the world’s best loose forwards, and he will be aiming to lead New Zealand to a record-breaking fourth Rugby World Cup success.
Antoine Dupont is a French professional rugby union player who plays as a scrum-half for Toulouse in the Top 14 and captains the France national team.
He is considered one of the best players in the world and one of the best scrum-halves ever to play the game.
Born in Lannemezan, France, in 1996, Dupont represented his school at provincial and national levels and played for the France Under-18s and Under-20s teams. Making his professional debut for Castres in 2016, Dupont won his first France cap in 2017 and has since gone on to make 47 appearances for Le Bleus.
Dupont is known for his speed, passing, kicking, and ability to break the line, and in 2021, he was named World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year – the first French player to win the award since 2011.
Many think 2023 is France’s best chance of winning a first-ever Rugby World Cup, and Antoine Dupont will be critical to those chances.
Ellis Genge is a professional rugby union player who plays as a prop and is the England rugby union captain.
Born in Bristol in 1995, Genge plays domestic rugby for Leicester Tigers and has
represented the England Under-18s and Under-20s teams. He made his professional debut for Bristol in 2013 and was named Young Player of the Season in 2014. In 2016, he moved to Leicester and has since won two Premiership titles and one European Challenge Cup.
Genge made his international debut for England in 2016 and was part of the England squad that reached the 2019 Rugby World Cup final.
And the loss in the final to South Africa will be a strong motivator for Genge as he aims to lead England to glory this time.
The current captain of the South Africa rugby union team is Siya Kolisi, who plays as a loose forward for the Stormers in Super Rugby and Western Province in the Currie Cup.
Born in Zwide, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in 1991, Kolise began playing rugby at a young age and represented his school before playing for the South Africa Under-18s and Under-20s teams. Kolisi made his Super Rugby debut for the Stormers in 2013 and won his first Springbok cap in 2016. He has since won 75 caps and was named captain of the Springboks in 2018.
A versatile player, Kolisi can play anywhere in the back row and is known for his powerful running and strong tackling.
In 2019, Kolisi led the Springboks to victory in the Rugby World Cup, becoming the first black captain to do so. He was named World Rugby Player of the Year in 2019.
And 2023 will see Kolisi aim to be only the second player to lead his country to back-to-back Rugby World Cup victories.
Jonny Sexton is one of the greatest fly halves of all time, so it is no shock that he is seen as one of the top rugby union team captains in international rugby.
Born in Dublin in 1989, Sexton’s rugby journey began at St. Mary’s College before honing his skills with the Ireland Under-18s and Under-20s teams. In 2009, Sexton made his debut for Leinster and swiftly established himself as a key player. His Ireland debut followed in 2010, and he has now earned 113 caps for his country and made six appearances for the British and Irish Lions.
Known for his exceptional skills and versatility, Sexton is renowned for his long-range kicking, precise passing, and ability to break through the defensive line.
His rugby accomplishments include four European Rugby Union Champions Cups and four Six Nations championships.
The Ireland rugby union team have so far failed to make it past the quarter-final stage of any Rugby World Cup, and if they are to overcome that in 2023, Sexton will be vital to their chances.
Andres Vilaseca is a centre representing the Uruguay national team and RC Vannes in Pro D2.
With 55 caps for Uruguay and being named captain in 2023, Vilaseca was an integral figure in his country’s qualification for the Rugby World Cup.
Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1991, Vilaseca’s senior debut for Uruguay came in 2013, and that same year, he played a crucial role in the team’s victory at the South American Rugby Championship. Vilaseca has competed in two Rugby World Cups, in 2015 and 2019, and his performances led to his inclusion in the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year shortlist in 2015.
Vilaseca possesses exceptional ball-handling skills and an impressive running game, and he is expected to play a pivotal role in Uruguay’s 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign.
Michele Lamaro plays for Benetton Rugby in the United Rugby Championship and is the current Italian rugby union captain.
Born in Rome, Italy, in 1998, Lamaro’s rugby journey began at a young age, playing for various clubs and despite a year out of the game due to injury, he is now one of the leading talents of Italian rugby. Lamaro made his international debut for Italy in 2020 and swiftly secured a regular spot in the starting back row.
Known for his powerful running game and work ethic, Lamaro was named the Italian Rugby Union’s Player of the Year in 2021, a testament to his exceptional performance.
Furthermore, his remarkable talent earned him a spot on the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year shortlist in 2022, and he’s very much a player to keep a close eye on at this year’s Rugby World Cup.
The 2023 Rugby World Cup is shaping up to be one of the most competitive tournaments in recent history. With so many talented teams and players competing, predicting who will be crowned champions is tricky.
However, the rugby union team captains mentioned in this article will all be key players in their respective nation’s campaigns – if their countries are to be successful, they must lead from the front.
New Zealand’s Richie McCaw is widely regarded as the most successful international rugby union captain ever. He led the All Blacks to 93 wins in 148 Tests, including winning the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and 2015.
The current captain of the New Zealand All Blacks is Sam Cane.
The former captain of New Zealand is Kieran Read, who made 127 appearances for his country between 2008 and 2019. Read was highly regarded in world rugby and is seen as one of the best rugby union team captains over the past decade.