England’s Unlucky XV
OPINION: Eddie Jones announced his 38-man World Cup training squad on Thursday, with some unexpected inclusions and exclusions.
What is noticeable is that there is a host of seasoned and in-form players that have missed out, which is an indication of how much depth England have these days.
Nonetheless, there will be some players that will inevitably feel aggrieved that they have been omitted, either because of the season that they have had, or the career they have had with England.
So this is the England XV that are unlucky to miss out:
15 Alex Goode
The European Player of the Year is possibly the most unlucky out of everyone, but has never been liked by Jones, earning his last cap in 2016 despite his consistency for Saracens.
14 Mike Brown
Although primarily a fullback, Brown must be part of this list for all he has done for England over the past decade. Unfortunately for the 33-year-old, he has slipped out of contention this past year.
13 Alex Lozowski
Perhaps paid the price for a poor showing for England against Japan last November but his form at the end of the season for double winners Saracens was exemplary.
12 Mark Atkinson
One of a number of Gloucester players to miss out after a brilliant season. Exeter Chiefs’ Ollie Devoto is another centre that gave a good account of himself this year.
11 Ollie Thorley
Announced himself to the Premiership at the beginning of the season with some wonderful displays for Gloucester. The mazy runner was always an outside bet to make the squad, but was pipped by Bath’s uncapped wing Riauridh McConnochie. Could have been competing with Chris Ashton (who pulled out of the squad) and the injured Denny Solomona for a place as well, as England have a lot of options on the wing.
10 Marcus Smith
The World Cup probably came too early for the 20-year-old Harlequins flyhalf who has been in and out of Jones’ squads, but will undoubtedly be part of the next World Cup cycle.
9 Danny Care
Both Danny Care and Dan Robson were both worthy of a place, but Willi Heinz got the third spot behind Ben Spencer and Ben Youngs. However, it is Care’s 84-caps-worth of experience that makes him most unlucky.
8 Sam Simmonds
This time last year, Simmonds would have been on most people’s list to make the World Cup. Unfortunately, a devastating ACL injury in September meant he only returned to rugby with a few weeks of the season remaining, and not enough time to make the squad.
7 Chris Robshaw
Had a great season with Harlequins, but it always looked as though Brad Shields was going to beat him to Jones’ squad ever since the New Zealand-born player moved to England. On the other hand, Lewis Ludlam’s selection ahead of the 66-cap veteran may surprise some. At 33 years of age, this will surely spell the end of the former captain’s international career.
6 Alex Dombrandt
Another luckless Harlequins player after a barnstorming season in the Premiership. His ability to play No.8 may have earned him a place, as he was one of the bolters to make the squad at the end of the season.
5 Nick Isiekwe
Already with three caps to his name at the age of 21, the dynamic lock has fallen victim to England’s immense depth in that position with Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury and Charlie Ewels ahead of him.
4 Nathan Hughes
Although primarily a No.8, Jones deployed him as a second-row in November and Six Nations, which may have given him the edge in the squad. Hughes is a player that has been a regular since making his debut in 2016 but equally never fully secured his place in the squad.
3 Nick Shonert
Included in the initial training squad, but the Worcester Warriors tighthead ultimately missed out as Jones opted for the vastly experienced Dan Coles and Harry Williams who will likely back up Kyle Sinckler.
2 Jack Yeandle
Dylan Hartley is the obvious player here, but it is an injury that has ruined his chances of going to Japan rather than anything else. But the ever-dependable Exeter captain Jack Yeandle is unfortunate, as he leads the Premiership runners-up superbly, starting ahead of Luke Cowan-Dickie, who has made the squad.
1 Val Rapava-Ruskin
A player that was also included in the initial training squad after a powerful season with Gloucester, but was not helped by Joe Marler’s return to the international setup.
By Josh Raisey
BREAKING | Your 35-man England @rugbyworldcup training squad 🌹
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) July 4, 2019