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10 Most Capped Six Nations Players of All Time

As the greatest rugby union tournament in the northern hemisphere, it’s no surprise that some of the best and most accomplished players in the history of the sport have played in the Six Nations. But, which player has made the most appearances?

From Six Nations legends like Brian O’Driscoll and Ronan O’Gara, to Italy’s Sergio Parisse and Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones, here are the 10 most capped Six Nations players of all time.

10. Gethin Jones: 56 Caps

Gethin Jones made his Six Nations debut in 2003. Thirteen years later, the Welsh prop made his 56th and final appearance; he retired from international rugby during the same year.

Jones’ Six Nations highlights include 2005 and 2013. At the 2005 tournament, his performances were crucial to Wales winning the Grand Slam. This was also the year that Jones scored his only Six Nations try: he crossed the line during Wales’ victory against Ireland, which guaranteed the Grand Slam.

In 2013, Jones captained Wales as they won their 26th Championship title. He skippered the side in their final game, which was against England. He ultimately led them to a 30-3 victory. 

Jones ended his career as one of a select group of players who can say they won three Grand Slams. 

9. Mike Gibson: 56 Caps

Next in the Six Nations hall of fame is the formidable Irish centre, Mike Gibson. Like Gethin Jones, Gibson also finished his playing career with 56 appearances at the Six Nations. 

Widely regarded as one of the greatest rugby players of his generation, Gibson was the most capped Six Nations player for 32 years. He amassed 56 caps between the 1964 and 1979 Five Nations, a number that was finally surpassed by Ronan O’Gara.

During his career, Gibson won two Five Nations: a shared victory in 1973 and an outright title in 1974.

8. Johnny Sexton: 60 Caps

At number eight is Irish superstar Johnny Sexton. As you may expect from Ireland’s top point scorer and one of the greatest fly-halves the sport has ever seen, Sexton enjoyed a glittering Six Nations career. 

During his illustrious career, Sexton played in 60 Six Nations matches and he scored a total of 566 points – this figure also makes him the Championship’s top point scorer.

Sexton’s Six Nations achievements comprise four outright titles (2014, 2015, 2018 and 2023) and two Grand Slams (2018 and 2023). 

7. Cian Healy: 60 Caps

The seventh-most capped Six Nations player is Ireland prop Cian Healy. Like fellow countryman Johnny Sexton, Healy also achieved his 60th cap at the 2023 tournament.

Healy’s Six Nations career kicked off in 2010. Since then, he’s celebrated four winning campaigns (2014, 2015, 2018 and 2023), as well as two Grand Slams (2018 and 2023). 

He will pass Johnny Sexton’s 60-cap mark in the 2024 Six Nations, if selected. 

6. Martín Castrogiovanni: 60 Caps

The first Italian player on this list is Martín Castrogiovanni. This tighthead prop was a giant of Italian rugby: he represented the national team 119 times between 2002 and 2016.

Like Johnny Sexton and Cian Healy, Castrogiovanni also made 60 appearances at the Six Nations. He earned his first cap at the 2003 tournament, played all of Italy’s matches in 2004 and made his 60th appearance in 2016. 

For Italian fans, Castrogiovanni will be forever remembered for two Six Nations campaigns: 2008 and 2012. In 2008, he was Italy’s top try scorer with three tries. Four years later, he was instrumental in their 13-6 triumph over Scotland.

5. Ronan O’Gara: 63 Caps

The fifth-most capped Six Nations player is Ronan O’Gara, the legendary Irish fly-half. O’Gara’s Six Nations career spanned from 2000 to 2013, and during this time he achieved 63 caps.

An indispensable member of the Irish team, O’Gara single-handedly secured several of Ireland’s victories over the years. This included a particularly memorable match in 2007, when O’Gara scored all of Ireland’s points during their 19-18 win against Scotland. Three years later, he finished the competition with a 100% kicking record.

In 2009, O’Gara celebrated his greatest Six Nations. He was the tournament’s top point scorer with 51 points and his 78th-minute drop-goal against Wales in the final round of fixtures secured Ireland’s Grand Slam win. Although this was his only Championship Trophy, O’Gara also won four Triple Crowns (2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009).

4. Rory Best: 64 Caps

At number four is another Irishman: Rory Best. This Irish hooker earned 64 Six Nations caps, a figure that puts him one appearance ahead of Ronan O’Gara. 

Best earned his first cap during the 2006 tournament. One year later, he scored his first Six Nations try during Ireland’s 19-9 victory over Wales. Then, in 2009, Best secured his first Grand Slam.

By his 64th appearance in 2019, Best boasted a spectacular Six Nations record. He reached his pinnacle on St Patrick’s Day in 2018, when he captained Ireland during their Grand Slam victory at Twickenham. 

In addition to Grand Slams in 2009 and 2018, Best also won back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015.

3. Brian O’Driscoll: 65 Caps

Brian O’Driscoll is Ireland’s most-capped Six Nations player. During his illustrious career, he made 65 appearances.

One of the greatest rugby players of all time, O’Driscoll carved out an enviable Six Nations career. He was voted Player of the Tournament three times (2006, 2007 and 2009) and he set the record for the most tries (with 26). 

With so many accolades, it’s hard to choose O’Driscoll’s greatest moments. However, 2000 and 2009 were two of his best years. His hat-trick at the 2000 tournament secured Ireland’s first win in Paris since 1972. Nine years later, he captained Ireland to their first Grand Slam since 1948.

2. Alun Wyn Jones: 67 Caps

Sitting at number two is Wales’ most-capped Six Nations player: the behemoth Alun Wyn Jones. 

Jones appeared in all five Six Nations matches in 2007, despite only making his international debut less than a year earlier. 

In 2017, Jones was named captain of the Welsh squad. Finally, in 2019, he steered the team to the Grand Slam. In the same year, he was named as the Player of the Tournament. 

To date, Jones remains one of the most successful Six Nations players of all time. He won five titles (2008, 2012, 2013, 2019 and 2021), three Grand Slams (2008, 2012 and 2019), and four Triple Crowns (2008, 2012, 2019 and 2021).

1. Sergio Parisse: 69 Caps

The top spot goes to Italy’s most-capped player: Sergio Parisse. Although Parisse never won the tournament – Italy are yet to claim the Championship Trophy – he has appeared in more Six Nations matches than any other player. 

He may not have won the trophy but he’s enjoyed plenty of stellar moments. This includes 2012, when he captained Italy to their victory against Scotland. Following this, in 2013, Parisse piloted Italy to their 23-18 victory over France – their second ever win against Les Bleus. He also scored the Azzurri’s first try four minutes into the match.