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Feature: What watches do rugby players wear?

You won’t find any rugby players in the lists of the world’s highest paid athletes, yet they aren’t exactly paupers. While rugby’s top earners won’t be amassing a collection of million-dollar Richard Milles any time soon, they are partial to a luxury watch or two. As we look ahead to the 2024 Six Nations Championship, we pick out 13 global stars of the sport—past and present—whose timepieces are as impressive as their tackling.

Marcus Smith, England

One of England’s most exciting young prospects, Marcus Smith will be looking to set the Six Nations alight with his trademark side-steps and laser-accurate crossfield kicks. He’s also making his mark on the watch industry, recently signing up as a brand ambassador for Tissot. Smith owns a Seastar and the popular PRX model with ice-blue dial, commenting “I feel that it resonates with how I play the game—different, out of the box—and it’s my kind of style.”

Antoine DuPont, France

With his choice of wristwear, mercurial French scrum-half Antoine DuPont takes on the guise of a stereotypically chic Frenchman. The 27-year-old wears one of the most sought-after luxury watches out there and no, it isn’t a Rolex but an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. He’s been spotted pairing a classic blue-dial, stainless-steel model with a navy-blue suit.

The entire New Zealand team

So ridiculously good are New Zealand’s All Blacks that Tudor decided to partner with the whole team. The likes of former World Player of the Year Beauden Barrett, his brothers Jordie and Scott, and Brodie Retallick wear a number of Black Bay models including the Black Bay Pro and the all-black Black Bay Ceramic—well, obviously! Tudor’s partnership extends to New Zealand’s equally dominant women’s team, the Black Ferns, who have never been out of the top two world rankings since 2003.

Dan Carter, former New Zealand player

The former All Blacks talisman has been photographed wearing an iconic TAG Heuer Monaco with a classic blue dial, the watch most famously associated with Hollywood “King of Cool” Steve McQueen. However, at the recent Rugby World Cup in France, where he was on ambassadorial duties for Louis Vuitton, he was photographed wearing an 18k rose-gold version of the brand’s new Tambour model alongside fellow ambassador, Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner.

Brian O'Driscoll, former Ireland player

Brian O’Driscoll isn’t just a rugby legend, he’s also the fifth most-capped player in rugby union history with 141 test appearances. When it comes to the Six Nations, he’s the record try-scorer and won Player of the Tournament three times. Only a reliable watch from a respected watchmaker could do for this Irish icon. “BOD”, as he’s affectionately known, has been spotted wearing this understated stainless-steel TAG Heuer Aquaracer chronograph.

Lawrence Dallaglio, former England player

At six feet four and built like a heavyweight boxer, wearing one of the most popular extra-large watches is probably the most predictable style choice ever, but that doesn’t make it a bad one. World Cup-winning English rugby titan Lawrence Dallaglio has been seen rocking a Panerai Luminor in steel with a black dial. We love the fact that both the brand and the player have Italian roots.

Gareth Thomas, former Wales player

Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas is another Panerai Luminor fan, although he has also been seen sporting a far smaller timepiece, a Cartier Santos. His version of the latter features a white dial with a black leather strap, making it an ideal daily beater—albeit something that can comfortably be glammed up for the evening. One of the most high-profile openly gay sportsmen around, Thomas—aka “Alfie”—enjoyed a 16-year career that saw him capped for his country in both rugby codes. Like his former adversary Lawrence Dallaglio, he's now a regular TV pundit.

Siya Kolisi, South Africa

Captain of the recent World-Cup-winning South Africa team, Siya Kolisi has been spotted wearing a sporty TAG Heuer Aquaracer with a black dial, identical to the one above albeit with an unusual green bezel. This isn’t any ordinary TAG, though. It’s a limited-edition Springboks Aquaracer, one of 200 pieces created for the South African squad’s 2019 tournament—another victorious campaign. This rare Aquaracer boasts an engraving of the Springboks logo on the caseback, making it perfect for hardcore fans of the Boks.

Mike Tindall, former England player

Not only is Mike Tindall an ex-England rugby professional and World Cup winner, he’s also married to King Charles’ niece, Zara Tindall—née Phillips—making him a fringe member of the British royal family. Tindall’s regal connections have made him a target for the paparazzi—as well as his ex-teammates who jokingly referred to him as “The Lord”—but this means us watch nerds get to examine his wrist candy. In 2019, he was papped wearing this slick, black-dialled Rolex Daytona whilst in Australia.

Sergio Parisse, former Italy player

Considering Rolex is one of the biggest watch brands out there, it’s hardly surprising that yet another rugby star has one in their collection. Former Italy captain Sergio Parisse has opted for one of the most recognisable models out there, the classic Rolex Submariner. He posted a photo of himself with his wife and his precious Rolex Submariner front-and-centre, meaning we all get to admire this iconic watch.

Tom Curry, England

British watchmaker Bremont became the official timing partner to England rugby in 2020, so it makes sense for England star Tom Curry to wear one of its models. The Bremont in question is the limited-edition S300 RFU, which was released ahead of the 2022 Six Nations tournament. It boasts England’s rose emblem debossed onto the dial and on the caseback, making it an ideal watch for England fans, as well as players.

Louis Rees-Zammit, former Wales player

Louis Rees-Zammit, who recently announced he was quitting rugby to join the NFL International Player Pathway in the USA, was spotted wearing an uber-slick Rolex Submariner at the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix. This two-tone yellow-gold and steel model boasts a royal-blue dial and bezel, making it a great option for such a glamorous sporting event. Should Rees-Zammit prove his doubters wrong and make the grade in his new sport, he’ll be able to splash out on the sort of watches his rugby-playing mates can only dream about. And if he doesn’t, he might end up pawning that Rolex to pay for his flight back to the UK. We wish him the best of luck.

Maro Itoje, England

England and British and Irish Lions player Maro Itoje is reputedly one of the game’s highest earners and he spends his money wisely, splashing out on solid watch purchases—including an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and a Panerai Luminor. Clearly a bit of an aesthete, Itoje also collects West African art and has modelled for Marks & Spencer and Ralph Lauren.