The most exciting event in the international rugby union calendar is fast approaching. The 2023 Rugby World Cup is now just months away and this can mean only one thing: it’s time for the tournament predictions to begin. 

As it currently stands, New Zealand, France and Ireland are the odds-on favourites. Each of these teams is packed with some of the finest rugby talent, but which of their players is likely to stand out at the 2023 RWC? 

Here we look at three of the most likely candidates for MVP at this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Ireland: Josh van der Flier

This talented Ireland and Leinster flanker has more than earned his place at the 2023 RWC. Since his international debut at the 2016 Six Nations, van der Flier has delivered exceptional performance after exceptional performance. 

His achievements to date include one Heineken Cup win (2017-18), one Six Nations Championship victory (2018) and four Pro14 triumphs (2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, 2021-22). Additionally, van der Flier started in all of Ireland’s 11 tests in 2022, including their 32-22 win against the All Blacks.

Named European Player of the Year and World Rugby Player of the Year in 2022, Van der Flier is widely recognised as a world-class talent and one of Ireland’s most valuable players.

France: Antoine Dupont

Although Dupont only made his first international appearance in 2017, this French scrumhalf has a wealth of rugby accolades to his name. This includes Top 14 and European Championship titles with Toulouse, as well as a Six Nations and Grand Slam victory in 2022.

His individual achievements are also growing. He was named as the Six Nations Player of the Tournament in 2020 and 2022 and was also awarded the World Rugby Player of the Year in 2021.

Dupont has already cemented his legendary status. He has a presence on the field and an anticipatory playing style that sets him apart. With skills like this, he’s a likely candidate for MVP at the RWC.

New Zealand: Ardie Savea

Known for his speed and athleticism, Savea is a seriously skilful number 8. In fact, his name regularly in lists of the best rugby players in the world. While he may be the younger brother of the talented Julian Savea, Ardie has become a fierce rugby talent in his own right.

Ardie made his debut for the All Blacks in 2016 and he’s gone from strength to strength. He was selected for New Zealand’s squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and he scored two tries during the tournament: one during the team’s warm-up match against Tonga and the other against England. Ardie was subsequently nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year 2019.

New Zealand finished in third place during the 2019 tournament and Savea will be eager to lead the All Blacks to the top spot. With his talent and electric energy, Savea is certainly one to watch in this year’s RWC.