There will be a lot of players missing at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, some due to injury and some simply because of non-selection. Then there are those who retired when we least expected it. Bet Central has compiled the missing XV from this year’s Rugby World Cup.
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
Stuart Hogg retired from all rugby at the end of the domestic season. It was a hugely surprising decision as the feeling was that he still had a lot to offer.
But he expressed that he had lost his will to play, It’s opened the way for the likes of Blair Kinghorn, but he would be an immense contributor to a team looking to make its mark.
14. Israel Folau (Tonga)
It was Israel Folau’s chance at redemption and a niggly knee injury saw him excluded from the Tongan side that is to contest the World Cup in France.
Israel Folau dazzled in Wallaby colours for years before being controversially dismissed for homophobic comments and this was an opportunity to watch a wonderful player on the international stage one last time.
13. Len Ikitau (Australia)
For all of Eddie Jones’ proclamations that he was opting for a youthful squad because they had earned it, it was rather harsh of him to leave out Len Ikitau.
Len Ikitau is arguably the best 13 in the Southern Hemisphere and seeing him excluded for an injury that is now clear ahead of the start of the World Cup is cruel.
12. Lukhanyo Am (South Africa)
Lukhanyo Am’s form this season has been patchy, but the kind of X-factor he possesses is one that South Africa desperately needs at times. He will be a big miss at the World Cup, his ingenuity and guile are 2nd to none. His additional leadership would also have come in handy for the Boks
11. Tom Wright (Australia)
Tom Wright’s fall down the pecking order didn’t get a lot of attention mainly due to Quade Cooper and Michael Hooper’s exclusion getting more attention.
Wright had a phenomenal Super Rugby Pacific season with the Brumbies and if he wasn’t going to be a 1st choice player, one would have at least expected him to make the squad.
10. Romain Ntamack (France)
There is a few quality flyhalves that will miss the World Cup for one reason or the other, so this spot could have been any of Handre Pollard, Quade Cooper or even the young prodigious talents of Caleb Muntz.
We chose Romain Ntamack purely for what he means to that French side, the co-driver to a phenomenal team alongside Antoine Dupont, he will be a huge miss in France.
9. Jack van Poortvliet (England)
Jack van Poortvliet’s performances for England have been one of the shining lights in a dark 2023 tunnel. The 22-year-old sustained an ankle injury in a warm-up game against Wales last month. He was starting to establish himself as 1st choice usurping long-time incumbent Ben Youngs, his youthful exuberance will be missed in the England camp.
8. Gavin Coombes (Ireland)
Probably one of the guys who weren’t even close to making the squad as he was cut even before the final squad of 33 was announced. Gavin Coombes is thus a weird selection for this team.
But on the way to winning the URC with Munster the 25-year-old loose forward was phenomenal and it was surprising when he wasn’t called upon to play for Ireland in the warm-up games. If Coombes’ domestic form was anything to go by, then he should have been on the plane to France.
7. Michael Hooper (Australia)
If this is to be the end of Michael Hooper’s Test career, then it is an unjust ending to a phenomenal career. He deserves better after the career he’s had.
Of all the players Jones didn’t select for his youthful squad, Hooper’s exclusion must have stung the most for Australian rugby fans. Hooper will go down as one of the greatest players and leaders in the game, he just won’t get his storybook ending.
6. Justin Tipuric (Wales)
Justin Tipuric is another leader of men who won’t be at the Rugby World Cup in France. The Ospreys man retired from international rugby in May and it was a rather bemusing decision as many felt he still had something to offer the Welsh national side.
The rumour mill will have you believe that both he and Alun Wyn Jones were pushed out, but that is unconfirmed. He will be missed in a Welsh squad struggling to find their rhythm.
5. Lood de Jager (South Africa)
There is no country that has the depth of South Africa at lock, so one would feel the loss of Lood de Jager won’t be felt, but the 30-year-old is a huge loss. He is a hybrid lock that possesses gifts not many locks have hence he was 1st choice in tandem with Eben Etzebeth. His absence will certainly be felt.
4. Paul Willemse (France)
The South African-born French 2nd rower hasn’t been in great form in recent times, but he was still going to be an integral part of the French side looking for a maiden title at the greatest rugby showpiece.
The form of Cameron Woki and Thibaud Flament may have consigned him to the bench, but his presence in the matchday squad would have been massive.
3. Allan Ala’alatoa (Australia)
Allan Ala’alatoa remains one of the most underrated tighthead props in world rugby, but his value for the Wallabies is incredible and his loss to injury will be felt.
A willing carrier, a brutal defender and a warrior in the trenches to add to his leadership. Ala’alatoa will be a big miss for a youthful Wallaby side.
2. Stuart McNally (Scotland)
George Turner has propelled himself to the front of the queue as far as hooking pecking order is concern, but the exclusion of Stuart McNally was a surprise as he still looked potent in the Scottish jersey.
The 33-year-old had hoped to end his career playing for Scotland at the World Cup, but it wasn’t to be with Dave Cherry and Ewan Ashman preferred to back up Turner.
1. Cian Healy (Ireland)
The 35-year-old Irish veteran, Cian Healy, was a dead certainty to back up Andrew Porter at the World Cup and was left bitterly disappointed after suffering a calf injury against Samoa in a warm-up match.
It means he won’t get an opportunity to play in a 4th World Cup for Ireland and perhaps it may spell the end of a wonderful international career that stretched over 125 Tests.