Top 20 players of the 2023 Championship

Top 20 players ahead of Six Nations 2023 Credits: Alamy

Top 20 players ahead of Six Nations 2023 Credits: Alamy

With just three weekends of rugby games left until the 2023 Six Nations, Planet Rugby takes a look at who are the top 20 players to enter the tournament this season.

After much discussion and differing opinions, which can be expected in ranking lists like this, here are the stars we decided on in descending order.

Planet Rugby’s 20 best players in the 2023 Six Nations

20 Gael Fickou (France, centre)

Without the crippled Jonathan Danty, Fickou’s importance to France grows. Their defensive leader and 13-year-old rock has an enormous 1.85cm presence in midfield and enough throttle and handling skills to play on the wing at Test level. The French midfielder may drop to 12 this season to increase his punches.

19 Michele Lamaro (Italy, wing)

Incredible run rate with the ability to play in any of the back row positions. He is the heir to the throne of Sergio Parisse, who stands out as king of the Azzurri, and has the common sense to support this candidacy.

18 Cyril Baille (France, loose propeller)

Despite tough competition from Ellis Genge and Andrew Porter, our top stray pick is France’s front row. Baille’s fighting and versatile skills give him the edge over his British and Irish counterparts.

17 Robbie Henshaw (Ireland, centre)

Equally at home indoors or out, the 12 is where Ireland bolsters its talents. Highly skilled defensively, faster than he looks and capable of carrying raid carry after raid, the Leinster star is one of the best three-quarters players in the game.

16 Maro Itoje (England, lock)

Itoje isn’t at the peak of stars two or three years ago and looked a bit rusty on the international scene late last season. However, his form with the Saracens is still outstanding and he remains in pole position as a starter during England’s Six Nations campaign.

15 Taulupe Faletau (Wales, number eight)

Faletau may be approaching 33 right now, but his mobility and intelligence continue to impress, whether in Cardiff or Wales. His native form has greatly improved since he came back from the bridge and has returned to something close to his sharpest at a time when it was vital to the fate of Wales.

14 Finn Russell (Scotland, half and half)

Russell is at the top of this list at best, but Russell at worst is nowhere on the list – and that’s the most infuriating thing about the maverick center in Racing 92. This season will likely define his career as a hero or see Scotland rush to make the most of their paper-thin resources in the World Cup.

13 Dan Biggar (Wales, half and half)

Loved by many and hated by some, Biggar’s dedication, courage and sheer self-belief are a joy to watch from time to time, if not always to listen to him as he scolds from all over the place throughout the match! The senior halfback is now nearing its end, but what a career – expect him to turn everything in the red this year – that’s what he’s done.

12 Damian Penaud (France, wing)

It’s amazing how Penaud, one of the deadliest finishers in the game, sneered at half luck. Sure, he takes advantage of the many chances his amazing team has created for him, but he still needs to be put aside and has proven to be the best in the industry at doing exactly that.

11 Tom Curry (England, winger)

No one can punch above their natural size like Curry. He’s swelled by around 9kg since his debut and is a muscular hitch and pressure ball that already seems to be leaping towards his best skill set in an advanced support and goal scoring game.

10 Ange Capuozzo (Italy, wing/back)

Capuozzo is Azzurri’s darling and despite winning only seven caps, he is already one of the most loved rugby players in the world! Above all else, she has a great sense of opportunity and makes trials that people remember. We hope to catch a few this year.

9 Owen Farrell (England, half/centre)

We wear our hard hats when we dare to pick Farrell in any way, because he has just as many critics for all his fans. But Saracen is a natural winner, a champion in England and Europe with an uncanny skill for pure effectiveness. He may not be the poster boy like Romain Ntamack or Marcus Smith, but he’s amazing as a top 10 winner.

8 Tadhg Beirne (Ireland, lock/wing)

Currently, Munster and Ireland shy of their back row riches means the tall man spends his time locking in attacks, but he’s just as adept as a blind winger. Incredible on the ball, deadly to carry, and devastating to poaching in formation, it defines modern back-fives forward gameplay.

7 Julien Marchand (France, prostitute)

France loves a top-notch front rower and they have the best in the world in Marchand along with Malcolm Marx and Julian Montoya. Great at combat and coyote, she leads the three in terms of standing ball hits in the golden age of inspiring hookers.

6 Tadhg Furlong (Irish, narrow propeller)

The Jukebox and its hits keep coming. Furlong’s versatile soccer talent is something to behold as he combines runs with steals, dumps and even the occasional field kick. He is becoming a key leader for Ireland and in two years he could very well fulfill that role for the British and Irish Lions in Australia. Wonderful.

5 Charles Ollivon (France, wing)

If you don’t believe us when we comment on this incredible rugby player, check out his stats. With an average of one try every 2.5 Tests, a lineup or steal every 15 minutes of his international rugby career, and an average of 21 steals per Test, few players have as much match impact as Ollivon. If the dangerous series resists taking him to a World Cup campaign, this year could see his game become the best of all time. He is one of the most influential players in world rugby and could top this list if condition and form allow.

4 Johnny Sexton (Ireland, half)

To some of us, it may seem like yesterday that Sexton was Ronan O’Gara’s back-up, a naïve youngster who played in the last 10 minutes, but he has arguably overshadowed his mentor and is now Ireland’s greatest halftime player in history. This year the former World Player is calling for rugby immortality as Ireland enters the Rugby World Cup as a very curious side. Everyone in the game is hoping that the cheek injury will allow it to play a role in this year’s tournament.

3 Josh van der Flier (Ireland, wing)

Van der Flier is currently the World Player of the Year and in unprecedented form for both Leinster and Ireland. The ability to take progressive play to the next level with brisk interventions around the ruck or support is the hallmark of a round game. Definitely a great open side, one of the best Ireland has ever produced.

2 Gregory Alldritt (France, number eight)

Few strikers are more effective in rugby than the great La Rochelle number eight right now. His ability to enter a scramble situation by making contact is fatal to any side he plays, and once he does, expect to see a variety of dumping and passing skills that will flatter any three-quarters. Absolutely brilliant under high ball and defensively, he is a total striker and a key player for France at the Six Nations and beyond.

1 Antoine Dupont (France, half)

The easiest of our picks, Dupont is only 26 years old despite already being the greatest rugby player of all time. Intuitive, smart, fast and extremely powerful, the Toulouse superstar can single-handedly turn any match into an instant. His flight for the club last weekend led to French picky tongues swaying with what ‘could be’ given the enormous reserve depth he has at nine. Could it be that he wore the number 10 jersey to further surprise the rugby spectators? Anything can happen with this rugby genius. Unique and the best player on the planet.

READ MORE: Great interview: Kevin Sinfield looks forward to going with Steve Borthwick and Red Rose

The Six Nations: 2023 Championship top 20 player articles were originally published on

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