Rugby Union

The best XV never to win a Rugby World Cup

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Olo Brown

The Samoa-born loose-head prop is rated amongst the finest scrummagers of all time. His All Blacks career spanned eight years, between 1990 and 1998, but crucially involved the 15-12 loss to South Africa in the 1995 final.

Keith Wood

The Irish hooker was a titanic presence for both Ireland and the Lions. A veteran of 63 tests and three World Cups, the Harlequins hooker never progressed beyond the quarter-final stage. But his set-piece brilliance, coupled with his mobility in the loose, gets him the nod.

Carl Hayman

The Kiwi prop’s reputation as somewhat of a mercenary, which led to him only gaining 45 test caps, shouldn’t deter from his capabilities as a tight-head. Arguably world rugby’s strongest scrummager in his peak, Hayman only featured in the 2007 World Cup.


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Paul O’Connell

In his fourth World Cup, O’Connell looked set to lead Ireland to their first semi-final before injury struck. An icon of the modern game, as captain of both Ireland and the Lions tour to South Africa in 2009, the Irish lock bows out with 115 test caps.

Fabien Pelous

The unflinching French lock is France’s record caps holder and captained the side for three years. Pelous combined skill in the line-out with an intimidating presence across the field and reached the latter stages in each of his three World Cups as a cornerstone of the French pack.

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George Smith

Smith was one of the best players of his generation and regularly matched Richie McCaw at the breakdown. The Australian flanker featured in two World Cups and reached the final in 2003. The former Wallaby captain was more suited at seven as a conventional ‘fetcher’ but played all across the back-row.

Josh Kronfeld

Widely regarded as the best seven in the world at his peak, the Kiwi was one of the best performers at his first World Cup in 1995. Kronfeld’s career was relatively short, due largely to the abilities of open-sides Michael Jones and McCaw, but that shouldn’t distract from his own impact.

Zinzan Brooke

Though a member of the 1987 squad, due to the presence of Buck Shelford, Brooke only featured in one group game against Argentina. A key member of the All Blacks’ squads of 1991 and 1995, he possessed unparalleled skills for a forward and relished the big stage.

Fabien Galthie

For a country renowned for possessing quality scrum-half’s, France had to feature here. Galthie was the best of the lot, a veteran of four World Cups, captain in 2003 and a key member of the 1999 upset against New Zealand in the semi-final. Galthie was renowned for his sniping around the fringes.

Andrew Mehrtens

I doubt Dan Carter counts himself as a World Cup winner, but he may rectify that on Saturday. His predecessor, Andrew Mehrtens, was a mercurial talent, possessing superb handling skills and a reliable boot which saw him accumulate 967 test points in a nine-year career for the All Blacks.

Jonah Lomu

Rugby’s first global star simply couldn’t be left out. At 20-years-old, Lomu set the 1995 World Cup alight, scoring four tries in the semi-final against England and providing Mike Catt with a point of infamy. Lomu finished with 15 World Cup tries in just two tournaments, with his career cut criminally short by nephritic syndrome.

Philippe Sella

A veteran of 111 test caps and three World Cups, including the final in 1987 against New Zealand, the Frenchmen had it all. Possessing speed, handling skills and physicality, Sella was near to the perfect inside centre and possessed a consistency, not typically associated with France.

Brian O’Driscoll

The second most capped player of all time was a legend for both Ireland and the Lions and must be the best player never to make a semi-final. Had speed, power, presence and remarkable ability at the breakdown for a back, O’Driscoll became one of the stars of the World Cup in 2003.

Brian Lima

The man nicknamed ‘the chiropractor’ made a habit of cutting people in half with his tackling over a 17-year test career. Playing much of his rugby at centre, the Samoan had to be included as a veteran of five World Cups, and two quarter-finals in 1991 and 1995.

Christian Cullen

A very tight call with Serge Blanco but Cullen is arguably the greatest full-back ever. Lightning quick and an elusive runner, the Kiwi was arguably the game’s greatest finisher with 46 tries in 58 tests. Infamously played out of position at 13 in his only World Cup in 1999 and then overlooked by coach John Mitchell four years later, but the ‘Paekakariki Express’ has to be included.

Which of the rugby's stars would you include, who have failed to lift the World Cup? Give your opinion in the comment box below!

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