The Rugby World Cup is the biggest stage in the game. Over the years, players have earned themselves a place in the history books by producing magic moments when it matters most. It’s interesting to note however, that while so many greats of the game will cement their legacy by lifting the Web Ellis cup, there are some men who arguably have given more to the game than any other player, who never earned the right to lift the trophy. Here’s a list of the top five rugby players who have never won a world cup.
5. Jerry Collins
This man is considered to be one of hardest tacklers in rugby history, along with Brian Lima. Collins was named player of the tournament at the 1999 World Junior Championships (Under-19) which New Zealand won. This lead to Collins going on to become the first player from that team to be called up to the All Blacks squad. Six years later at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, Collins filled in as captain for the matches against Portugal and Romania, standing in for Richie McCaw.
4. Carlos Spencer
King Carlos, the man who undoubtably provided the inspiration and paved the way for Dan Carter, arguably the greatest player of all time. Spencer was renowned for his creative and sometimes downright mad, kicking and passing game along with his ability to unlock defences. To top it off, Spencer was also a very consistent goal kicker.
3. Christian Cullen
A shorter test career than others on this list, Cullen was one of the most exciting full-backs to ever take to a field. Nicknamed the Paekakariki Express, his speed, footwork and vision allowed him to vanquish defenders across the globe throughout a career that earned Cullen 46 tries in 58 appearances for the All Blacks. Unfortunately, the chance to showcase his thrilling stamp on the game at the world cup always escaped him.
2. Brian O’ Driscoll
It’s an honour to be able to place an Irish man on this list and know he deserves the spot. Brian O’Driscoll arguably became Ireland’s first rugby household name. At twenty years old he carved up the French defence to score three tries and guide Ireland to a historic victory in Paris with what many still refer to as the greatest solo performance by any Irish player. During his long career which would see him captain Leinster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions, he consistently produced moments of magic that stunned fans and players alike. At club level he achieved everything there is to achieve, the World Cup was a different story however, as he unfortunately never got past the quarter-finals of the tournament. Brian retired in 2014, since then the Irish national team still haven’t managed to reach a world cup semi-final despite a 2018 grand slam and defeating the All Blacks in both 2016 and 2018.
1. Jonah Lomu
All the players on the list are some of greatest to ever pick up a ball, there’s no doubt about it. However, can any of them say that they changed the way the game is played? No rugby player in history could argue that they’ve had as much of an impact on the modern game as this man. At the age of 19 years and 45 days, Lomu became the youngest All Black test player as he debuted against France in 1994
South Africa may have won the 1995 world cup, but Lomu completely stole the show. His performance at the 1995 tournament established him as an icon of the game with attendances skyrocketing at any fixture which he appeared in.
Lomu scored seven tries in five matches, two in the first match against Ireland Ireland in Johannesburg, one in the quarter final against Scotland and a show-stopping four tries in the semi-final against England. The first score saw Lomu receive a pass behind him, beat two defenders and then, after a stumble, run straight over the top of Mike Catt and a legend was born. New Zealand commentator Keith Quinn, struggled to articulate what he’d just seen.