The 2023 Rugby World Cup is edging ever closer, with fans from Cape Town to Cardiff grabbing their world cup tickets and planning their trips to France. And the fans are right to be excited, because next year’s tournament is absolutely jam-packed with superstars from all over the world.
When you buy rugby tickets, it’s to see your team compete against the very best sides and the very best players. But if you’re not sure who they’ll be this time around, then we’ve got five players you definitely need to keep an eye on.
Antoine Dupont (France)
France’s number nine is one of world rugby’s undisputed superstars. His team honours speak for themselves. French and European titles with his club side Toulouse, and France’s historic first Six Nations victory in 12 long years. Strong, compact, and electrifyingly quick off the mark, Dupont is an attacking threat, a defensive lynchpin, and no mean kicker either. It’s hard to find fault with his game.
Marcus Smith (England)
It’s been an eventful two years for England fly-half Marcus Smith. He’s won the Premiership with Harlequins, made his England debut, been called up to the Lions tour of South Africa and kicked a last-minute match-winner against the world champions in front of a packed out Twickenham. But he won’t be hoping for a calmer 2023. If England are to upset the odds, it’ll be on the back of efforts from exciting newcomers like Smith. England ticket holders will be backing him all the way.
Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
Irish prop Furlong is a huge physical presence for his country, for his club side Leinster, and for the Lions. But as the cliche goes, he’s got great feet for a big man, as Scotland’s embarrassed players will be all too unhappy to tell you.
They call him the Jukebox, because the hits just keep coming, and he’ll be hoping his huge physicality can see Ireland safely through their group at the expense of Scotland or South Africa, and then deep into the tournament proper.
Siya Kolisi (South Africa)
As captain of the holders going into a world cup, Siya Kolisi knows the meaning of pressure. But as the first ever black Springbok captain, he could be forgiven for feeling the weight of history too. If he does, he’s not shown it. South Africa’s player of the year for 2021, Kolisi has already captained his country to glory once. Widely considered as one of the best players in the game, it’d take a brave, brave person to bet against him doing it again.
Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)
Why are South Africa favourites? Because they’ve got two players on this list, and half a dozen more who could feel aggrieved to miss out. While he won’t expect to score many tries, Etzebeth is a prime physical specimen, bench pressing 175 kilos, and sprinting 40 metres in 5.1 seconds. It’s no wonder he’s considered the most feared man in rugby. He sums up the South Africa team as a whole. Strong, fast, and used to winning. He’s definitely worth keeping an eye on, especially if he has to see off Ireland’s Furlong!
The joy of a rugby world cup is that every single player will have the chance to shine and make a name for himself as a legend of the game. But these five players have a bigger chance than most, and you should definitely pick up a ticket to see them.