Social media allows the stars of the Guinness Six Nations to break down the barriers between fans and supporters, reaching out to their followers in new and exciting ways.
Now more than ever, a sizeable online following can help a player further their career and grow their public profile.
With some of the biggest names in the game taking part in Rugby’s Greatest Championship over the next eight weeks, it is time to look at which players have the biggest followings on TikTok and Instagram.
England’s players are leading the way on TikTok, with several top stars on the exciting new platform.
You can keep up to date with Tommy Freeman and Jack van Poortvliet, who both have accounts set up.
TikTok is clearly a hit at Northampton Saints, with Alex Mitchell and Lewis Ludlam also owning accounts.
Joe Marchant is very popular on the app, with nearly 6000 followers and plenty of posts that show off his silky skills.
Freddie Steward has amassed more than 6000 followers on TikTok despite having an account for less than six months.
But no England star can top Maro Itoje.
The lock is one of rugby’s biggest names both on and off the social media platform, growing his following to nearly 90,000 since his first post in January 2022.
Scotland do not have many players on TikTok, but one of their biggest stars is making up for it.
Stuart Hogg has only had an account for a year, but he has been producing quality content from the word go.
Equally adept at video editing as he is at evading defenders, Hogg has put together clips that show the thrills and spills of being a professional rugby player.
He is closing in on 35,000 followers, a just reward for his heroics in a Scotland shirt over the years.
Unsurprisingly, the young stars from each of the nations competing in the Guinness Six Nations have had a bit of a head start.
That is certainly the case for Wales, where Louis Rees-Zammit is king.
The wing wizard has a remarkable following of over 72,000 on TikTok.
To be fair, Rees-Zammit has had an account since April 2020.
His earliest videos are of him showing off his incredible footwork and skill during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since rugby’s return, the winger has filled his feed with some of his most exciting moments for club and country.
Several of France’s biggest names are very active on TikTok.
Antoine Dupont has more than 4000 followers, while Cameron Woki has more than 7000.
However, no one comes close to Matthieu Jalibert.
The fly-half has 21,500 followers to his name, and plenty of exciting posts to keep you entertained.
He has also produced some hilarious content for the French-speaking public, so keep an eye out for his account on your next scroll through social media.
In a stunning twist of fate, Peter O’Mahony is one of Ireland’s most-followed players on TikTok.
However, it is maybe not for the reason you would expect.
Most players on this list have been creating rugby-specific videos, but O’Mahony has taken a different approach.
The 33-year-old forward started posting in the summer of 2022, producing some really nice gardening content.
So, if you want to see the Munster star get his hands dirty, check out his account.
One of the breakout stars of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations was Ange Capuozzo, and that is reflected in the full-back’s TikTok numbers.
The 23-year-old has well over 33,000 followers, highlighting some his finest moments for club and country.
Like many of the younger players on this list, Capuozzo started posting in 2020.
The prodigy has gone from strength to strength since then, so check out his content on TikTok
It is a straight shootout between two Saracens stars in the battle to be named England’s most followed 2023 Guinness Six Nations squad member.
Maro Itoje has amassed over 305,000 followers on Instagram, an incredible number for a remarkable player.
However, Owen Farrell has been leading England for over a decade now, and he has been rewarded with over 343,000 followers on the social media site.
Marcus Smith is the third most followed star in the England squad with 212,000 despite being just 23 years old.
And an honourable mention goes to Ellis Genge, who has broken convention by amassing a social media following of 145,000 despite playing in the front row.
Things are a bit more clear-cut in the Scotland squad, where Stuart Hogg has an overwhelming following of over 174,000 followers.
The full-back has been one of Gregor Townsend’s most reliable players, and he is equally consistent when it comes to social media posts, making four already this year.
Scotland’s top five most followed players list is dominated by backs, with Finn Russell in second by a comfortable margin with 101,000.
The enigmatic playmaker is one of the biggest characters in the northern hemisphere, let alone Scottish rugby, so it is no surprise to see him so high up the rankings.
In third is Duhan van der Merwe with 63,000, but he does get bonus points for being the only player in this list with a private account.
The honourable mention goes to Hamish Watson, Scotland’s most followed forward with over 48,700 followers.
There are not many surprises in Wales’ top three.
It is a battle between three legends of Welsh rugby, George North, Alun Wyn Jones and Leigh Halfpenny.
Jones may be the most-capped rugby union player on the planet, but he will not be Wales’ most followed star in camp this spring with 112,000 only enough for third.
North takes second with over 211,000 to his name.
And in first is the iconic Halfpenny, who has over 227,000 followers on Instagram heading into his 15th year in the Wales squad.
Two other stars of Warren Gatland’s first stint as head coach complete the top five.
Rhys Webb is fourth with over 67,000 followers, and Taulupe Faletau is fifth with over 57,800.
In general, the France players all had impressive follower counts, but two players stood comfortably above the rest.
France’s most followed player during the 2023 Guinness Six Nations will be the 2022 Player of the Championship Antoine
Dupont, who has amassed 448,000 followers on Instagram.
That is more than Wales’ top two combined!
The scrum-half has earned his platform in recent years, wowing fans with his skill and personality on the pitch.
Romain Ntamack takes second place with a total audience of 352,000 on Instagram.
Matthieu Jalibert is in third with a following of over 183,000, and Cyril Baille claims the honourable mention for representing the front row in the six-figure club with over 104,000 followers
Italy may be resurgent on the pitch, but their social media numbers need a lot of work.
Paolo Garbisi is back training with Kieran Crowley’s squad ahead of his return from injury, and it is for the best, with the fly-half currently ranked as the Azzurri’s third most followed star with over 25,000 followers.
Tommaso Allan is competing with Garbisi for the fly-half shirt, and he is also competing with him for second place in the most followed rankings.
The Harlequins star has over 25,300 followers, meaning he just edges it on this occasion.
But there are no questions about first place.
Ange Capuozzo leads the way with 130,000, and if he can replicate his performances from 2022 this year, then fans can expect to see him in the top ten soon.
Half-back pairing Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton may be a well-oiled machine when they take to the field in an Ireland jersey, but they are currently embroiled in a fight to be Ireland’s most-followed player on Instagram.
The scrum-half currently has the edge with over 243,000 followers on the social media platform, but Sexton is not far behind with 222,000 of his own.
Peter O’Mahony takes third place with 168,000 followers of his own, and a special mention goes to Bundee Aki, who has 112,000.
The Top Ten
1st Antoine Dupont – 448K
2nd Romain Ntamack – 352K
3rd Owen Farrell – 343K
4th Maro Itoje – 305K
5th Conor Murray – 243k
6th Leigh Halfpenny – 227K
7th Johnny Sexton – 222k
8th Marcus Smith – 212K
9th George North – 211K
10th Matthieu Jalibert – 183K