Ellis Genge Named In World XV Ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup - Ruck

Ellis Genge Named In World XV Ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup

The greatest rugby players from across the globe will soon take centre stage, as next month’s 2023 Rugby World Cup is fast approaching it’s kick-off in France.

The opening fixture between Les Bleus and the All Blacks will see two star-studded line-ups, ready to set the tempo for international rugby’s pinnacle competition. It has been a long time since a Rugby World Cup has had so many possible winners, with France, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland leading the charge from the front.

England and Australia have been gifted an easier draw in comparison, with Eddie Jones’ former or current sides both more than set-up for an extended run for the Web Ellis trophy. Argentina have come on tremendously in recent years, and are the definite dark horse of the competition.

But what players would make the cut, for a Best in the World XV? With the 2023 Rugby Championship and Pacific Nations Cup now joining the Six Nations in the rear-view mirror, there has been an adequate amount of international fixtures to look back on, to decide our picks for today’s ultimate side.

So, In an article that could well generate some polarising opinions, we have made our picks and included some honourable mentions for each position. With the Summer Nations Series well underway, and the 2023 Rugby World Cup drawing ever closer…

Here is RUCK’s Best in the World Rugby XV


15. Fullback: Hugo Keenan (Ireland)

Honourable Mentions: Freddie Steward (England), Thomas Ramos (France), Ange Capuozzo (Italy)

After an outstanding 2023 Six Nations, Ireland fullback Hugo Keenan has cemented himself as the top pick for our World XV’s number 15 jersey. Keenan made the most metres out of anyone in the latest Six Nations (562m with ball in hand), and provided a threatening edge to the Irish attack every time he got his hands on the ball.

Keenan was instrumental for Ireland as they won their first Grand Slam since 2018, and rightfully worked himself into the discussion of ‘best fullback in the world’. Keenan’s work rate off the ball and in defence, was pivotal for Andy Farrell’s side to remain undefeated. The fullback took home the Player of the Match award in the opener against Wales, and followed this up with a crucial early try in the titanic clash with France, as well as a second score against Italy.

The runner-up to Keenan’s fullback jersey in our eyes is Freddie Steward. Despite England’s recent run of poor results, Steward remains one of the top (if not the best) back-three players under the high ball. The Leicester Tigers man is joined by Italian pocket-rocket Ange Capuozzo and exhilarating French fullback Thomas Ramos as honourable mentions. Ramos’ kicking ability sees him superseded over Capuozzo, yet Keenan comes out on top overall.

14. Right Wing: Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa)

Honourable Mentions: Damian Penaud (France), Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales), Darcy Graham (Scotland)

It could be argued that Cheslin Kolbe was head and shoulders above the rest, and was comfortably the best right winger in the world, when South Africa won the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Now four years later, Kolbe hangs on to this spot by a hair’s length, with France’s Damian Penaud looking to usurp the Springbok at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The pair are like-for-like talents in so many ways, with unadulterated pace and the fleet-footedness to step an opponent in a phone-box. Penaud finished the 2023 Six Nations as the top try scorer, with two of his five tries coming in the closing moments of England’s heaviest ever defeat at Twickenham. Kolbe’s efficient try-scoring took Toulon to Challenge Cup glory, and a seventh placed finish to qualify for the 2023/24 Champions Cup, whilst Penaud’s Clermont petered-out in tenth.

Cheslin Kolbe of Toulouse drives forwards during the European Champions Cup Final match between La Rochelle and Toulouse at Twickenham Stadium, London on May 22 2021. – PHOTO: Micah Crook/PPAUK

Welsh dynamo Louis Rees-Zammit, and Flying Scotsman Darcy Graham are also contenders for the right wing spot. There are few in finer form along the touchline today than Graham, yet Kolbe has the proven ability to win the biggest matches, on the grandest stages.

11. Left Wing: Marika Koroibete (Australia)

Honourable Mentions: Makazole Mapimpi (South Africa), Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland), James Lowe (Ireland)

Eddie Jones is ready to unleash a formidable threat at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, as Marika Koroibete is only getting stronger along the left wing. This spot was an incredibly close call between the Wallabies star and South Africa’s Makazole Mapimpi, yet Koroibete takes the number 11 jersey, thanks to his phenomenal work-rate in defence, as well as his attacking capabilities.

This point is best punctuated by Koroibete’s outstanding try-saving tackle in the 2022 Rugby Championship, as he halted Mapimpi’s best efforts. Storming across the width of the pitch at break-neck speeds, the Wallaby bulldozed Mapimpi into touch, along with his claims to be the best left winger in the world. Don’t have us mistaken, this decision is not based on a single tackle, as Koroibete has been consistently outstanding for Australia and his Wild Knights club in Japan for a few years now.

His most recent appearance for his country saw him score an early try against the All Blacks, and highlight his recent form as the world’s best number 11. Koroibete could not be forced into touch, and powered his way through to the line to showcase his unstoppable skillset in attack.