The Rugby World Cup is one of the most prestigious events in rugby union, and the next renewal will take place in France from September 8 to October 28, 2023.
This will be the tenth edition of the tournament, which takes place every four years. The Rugby World Cup brings together the best rugby teams worldwide to compete for the coveted William Webb Ellis trophy, and South Africa are the current holder, having won the 2019 final against England.
And with all eyes set to be on France for the Rugby World Cup, we’ve taken a closer look at 10 Rugby World Cup top players who are set to have a big say on who wins this year’s tournament.
Top 10 Rugby World Cup Players
Below, we’ve listed 10 Rugby World Cup top players who are set for strong performances in this year’s tournament in France.
🏴 Maro Itoje
The Englishman they call ‘The Pearl’ is a man mountain at lock, with speed that belies his stature. His height makes him a natural target at lineouts, while his overall size has helped him to powerful statistics in the tackling department through the years.
He was an integral part of Saracens’ domination from 2015-2019. Furthermore, he helped them to three European Cups and four Premiership titles in that five-season spell. He also added to his reputation when he won European Player of the Year in 2016.
🇫🇷 Antoine Dupont
Already an excellent scrum half, since being named the French captain, Dupont has taken his form to another level. He was named captain ahead of the 2022 Six Nations, guiding his country to their first title since 2010.
Player of the tournament in the 2022 and the 2023 Six Nations, he also took home that honour in 2020. He scored a try at the 2019 World Cup, and with the 2023 tournament on his home soil, there could be fireworks in front of a partisan crowd.
Regarded by many as the top player in the world at this present time, the scariest thing for his opponents is that at the age of 26, they will have to face Dupont for quite some time yet.
🏴 Finn Russell
The thirty-year-old is the fourth-highest points scorer for Scotland in their proud history with 269. He helped Glasgow Warriors lift the Pro 12 trophy in the 2014-15 season before joining Racing 92, where he was runner-up in the 2019-20 European Rugby Champions Cup.
A fly-half, his rise through the sport has been akin to a Hollywood movie script. Having to drop to the second division to even get a game in 2011, to turn that into a Pro 12 winning player just a few seasons later, is a huge testament to his natural talent and mentality.
That mentality has been questioned in recent years after some lesser displays, but a move to Bath after the 2023 Rugby World Cup might be what he needs to spark a top display back at the highest level.
🇮🇹 Ange Capuzzo
Having the option of picking whether to represent France or Italy, he chose the latter and, having only made his debut for Italy at the 2022 Six Nations, has quickly made quite an impression on the game.
Two tries on his debut against Scotland, despite only playing 35 minutes, were followed by tries against Australia, South Africa and France, so he is not one to shy away from the big teams.
At just 24, there should be plenty more to come from the 2022 breakthrough player of the year, and while Italy are not going to contend at a major tournament anytime soon, players like Capuzzo will give their fans something to cheer about.
🇦🇷 Emiliano Boffelli
Scottish fans will know the Argentinian well, playing for Edinburgh Rugby. He has wasted little time in becoming a fan favourite in the capital, notching 284 points in 31 matches to go along with the 251 he has in 50 games for his country.
When Argentina beat New Zealand last summer, he was the lynchpin for his team, through which all play flowed, and his pinpoint kicking guided the Pumas to success over the All Blacks.
One of the most accurate goal-kickers in rugby at present, he makes Argentina a threat to anyone on their day. They finished third at the 2007 World Cup, and Boffelli has the talent to drag the current 8th-placed team in the world to similar heights.
🇮🇪 Tadhg Furlong
The Irish prop is what a forensic sketch artist would produce when asked to draw the perfect all-round player. Outstanding in the set piece, he is one of the hardest workers on the pitch and has a touch that surprises, given his size.
Furlong is a battering ram of a player who has the feet of a ballet dancer. Four times a Pro 14 winner with Leinster and a dual Six Nations champion, his name is one of the first on the sheet when it comes to the top players in the world at present.
One thing missing from his CV is a World Cup, but with the Irish, the top-ranked team in the world, that space in the trophy cabinet might not be vacant for too much longer.
🇿🇦 Eben Etzebeth
A behemoth is the best way to describe the South African. Standing at 6’8″, the lock is unsurprisingly one of the top lineout targets in world rugby. With 110 caps, he currently stands 5th all-time in South African history, just one behind John Smit in 4th and 17 off the all-time leader, Victor Matfield.
Furthermore, he was the quickest to 50 caps for South Africa, dominant at a young age, reaching that level at just 24 years old.
Already a World Cup winner in 2019, his physical play has drawn the odd controversy throughout his career. A big hitter, Etzebeth is the kind of player fans love to have on their team and hate to have to line up in opposition.
🇮🇪 Josh van der Flier
The Irish flanker, the reigning World Rugby Player of the Year, enjoyed a sensational 2022. This year has seen a continuation of that, with part of the dominant Six Nations winning squad scoring a try against Wales.
His quest for personal improvement has seen his ball-carrying improve massively in recent years. Big, strong and agile, he reads the play incredibly well, possessing almost a sixth sense of exactly where he needs to be to best support his teammates.
A four-time winner of the Pro 14 with Leinster, Ireland have only lost one of the ten games in which he has scored a try for his nation. That’s a win rate the Irish would love to see him keep.
🇳🇿 Ardie Savea
The powerful flanker is one of the most feared ball carriers in world rugby. Not only is Savea a strong runner, but he also reads the defence in front of him better than most, possessing one of the finest dummy passes to embarrass the opposition.
He scored the only try in New Zealand‘s losing effort against England in the World Cup semi-final in 2019, and 13 of his 18 tries for the All Blacks have been scored on home soil.
So all eyes will be on him when New Zealand open the World Cup against the hosts France on the 8th of September.
🇫🇷 Gregory Alldritt
Alldritt made an immediate impact for France in the 2019 Six Nations, coming on late in the game against Scotland (his third cap), he scored a pair of tries in the dying minutes to put himself on the world rugby map.
While Antoine Dupont is the French pin-up, he would not be able to make the same impact if it were not for the industrious, hard work that Alldritt puts in. A turnover machine, Alldritt makes his impact by getting down and dirty.
Few can compete with his output, quickly becoming a world-leading number eight at just 26 years of age. A Six Nations winner and a European Rugby Champions Cup winner, he will carry a weight of expectation on home soil to add a World Cup winner to that personal trophy haul.
The 2023 Rugby World Cup looks like a wide-open tournament with several nations with real chances of lifting the trophy. However, to do so, they will need huge performances from the Rugby World Cup top players we have covered above.
Many people believe France will finally lift the William Webb Ellis trophy, and much is expected from Antoine Dupont and Gregory Alldritt. At the same time, South Africa’s defence of their title will hinge on how Eben Etzebeth performs.
Whoever lifts the trophy, we’re set for a thrilling tournament as the Rugby World Cup top players battle it out for glory.
France’s Antoine Dupont is widely regarded as the best player heading into the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson is the top scorer in Rugby World Cup history with 277 points.
New Zealand and South Africa have won the Rugby World Cup on three occasions.