Sir Ian Mcgeechan, who is used to bringing players together, would be in charge our alternative XV

Everyone will be keen to see how the Richie McCaws, Quade Coopers and Chris Ashtons of the rugby world perform in New Zealand over the coming weeks, but what about those not taking part?

The World Cup is rugby’s showpiece event but not everyone has the chance to compete in it, so here at Rugby World we decided to pick a match-day 22 from all those players around the globe not at the tournament.  Some names you’re sure to recognise and others might not be so familiar, but it’s a team that would cause problems for most nations at RWC 2011. It’s a mix of youth and experience, pace and power, flair and doggedness.

Below we explain the myriad of reasons why these players weren’t picked – and are unlikely to be called out to New Zealand as injury replacements – but why they deserve a place in our starting XV. As for who should coach this diverse group of players, it has to be Sir Ian McGeechan, so used is he to bringing players from different nations together with the Lions.

1. Loosehead Prop – Kevin Tkachuk
Age 34 (11 Sept 1976)
Born Manitoba
Country: Canada
Club: Unattached
Height 6ft
Weight 18st 5lb

The shock omission from Canada’s World Cup squad, Tkachuk is a veteran of 53 Tests and seven years at Glasgow Warriors. He left the club at the end of last season to focus on the World Cup, but Canucks coach Kieran Crowley said: “We felt some players have gone past Kevin in performances.” Still, any team would benefit from his experience.

2. Hooker – Schalk Brits
Age 30 (16 May 1981)
Born Empangeni
Country South Africa
Club Saracens
Height 5ft 11in
Weight 15st 6lb

A premiership winner and a star in the northern hemisphere, with running and passing skills to make any back jealous – but he gets no love from the South Africa selectors. He won three caps in 2008 but has since been ignored and says: “There’s an illusion that if you weigh less than 100kg, my weight, you can’t scrum.”

3. Tighthead Prop – Carl Hayman
Age 31 (14 Nov 1979)
Born Opunake
Country New Zealand
Club Toulon
Height 6ft 4in
Weight 18st 10lb

New Zealand did all they could to tempt Hayman back home, reportedly even offering to help him set up a farm, but instead of another shot at World Cup glory he opted to sign a big-money deal with Toulon. He’s still one of the world’s best tightheads so it was a blow for Graham Henry, who would have liked Hayman in the black No 3 jersey.

4 Second-Row – Ian Evans
Age 26 (4 Oct 1984)
Born Johannesburg
Country Wales
Club Ospreys
Height 6ft 9in
Weight 18st 4lb

Evans made his Wales debut on the same 2006 tour to Argentina as Alun Wyn Jones and both were expected to enjoy long Test careers. But while Jones has now amassed 50 caps, Evans is stuck on 16. Warren Gatland is a fan but a horrible run of injuries means he hasn’t played a Test since 2008.

5. Second-Row – Erik Lund
Age 32 (3 July 1979)
Born Fredrikstad
Country Norway
Club Biarritz
Height 6ft 8in
Weight 19st 2lb

Born in Norway, raised in England, Lund made slow but steady progress through rugby’s ranks before excelling for Leeds in 2009-10. He’s proved an equally powerful presence at Biarritz and he wasn’t out of his depth donning Baa-Baas stripes this summer, but he pledged his allegiance to Norway early on.

6. Blindside – Anton Rudoy
Age 28 (21 Feb 1983)
Born Almaty
Country Kazakhstan
Club Enisey-STM
Height 6ft 2in
Weight 14st 6lb

Rugby is clearly in the Rudoy genes. Mum Olga played in five World Cups, her last aged 47, while Anton has impressed for Kazakhstan’s men, but couldn’t help them qualify for RWC 2011. A destructive ball-carrier with a penchant for scoring tries, he deserves to play on rugby’s biggest stage.

7 Openside – Nili Latu
Age 29 (19 Feb 1982)
Born Tongatapu
Country Tonga
Club Green Rockets
Height 6ft
Weight 15st 12lb

Latu was one of the stars of the 2007 World Cup. Dynamic with ball in hand and a snaffler at the breakdown, he led Tonga with aplomb as they troubled finalists South Africa and England in the pool stages. But he’s been kicked out of the current squad by coach Isitolo Maka for “disciplinary reasons”.

8. Number 8 – Simon Taylor
Age 32 (17 Aug 1979)
Born Stirling
Country Scotland
Club Bath
Height 6ft 4in
Weight 17st 12lb

Long seen as one of Scotland’s most talented and consistent performers, Taylor made himself unavailable to the national team in August 2009. He wanted to concentrate on club rugby and staying fit having been dogged by injuries ever since the 2001 Lions tour. Two years on and it seems he brought his Test career to a premature end.

9. Scrum-Half – Byron Kelleher
Age 34 (3 Dec 1976)
Born Dunedin
Country New Zealand
Club Stade Français
Height 5ft 9in
Weight 15st

He may not be the best scrum-half in the world but Graham Henry would doubtless want him in his All Blacks squad given that the uninspiring pair of Jimmy Cowan and Piri Weepu are currently fighting over the No 9 shirt. Kelleher’s strength suits the Top 14 where he enjoyed great success with Toulouse before joining Stade in June.

10 Fly-Half – Danny Cipriani
Age 23 (2 Nov 1987)
Born Roehampton
Country England
Club Rebels
Height 6ft
Weight 14st 13lb

Oh danny boy, how a nation loved you – and then you threw it all away. Cipriani divides opinion but no one can deny his talent on the pitch, in attack at least (defensively there are big flaws). Since he was a teen he was tipped to be England’s No 10 at RWC 2011, but high-profile misdemeanours and a move Down Under put paid to that.

11. Left-Wing – Tim Visser
Age 24 (29 May 1987)
Born Zeewolde
Country Scotland
Club Edinburgh
Height 6ft 4in
Weight 17st

Holland may want Visser but the potent finisher is holding out for Test honours with Scotland. The ‘Flying Dutchman’ has topped the Magners League try chart for the past two years and crossed twice for the Barbarians against England in May. He qualifies for the Scots next summer and could be a familiar face in the team by 2015.

12. Inside-Centre – Lote Tuqiri
Age 31 (23 Sept 1979)
Born Namatakula
Country Australia
Club Wests Tigers RL
Height 6ft 3in
Weight 16st 5lb

The Wallabies could have called on an older head this year had that head been more wise. Tuqiri was contracted to the ARU until 2012 so would have challenged for a World Cup spot, but in July 2009 was sacked after bringing a woman back to his hotel room in a Test week. He’s since returned to league, but would make a hard-running centre.

13. Outside-Centre – Mathew Tait
Age 25 (6 Feb 1986)
Born Shotley Bridge
Country England
Club Leicester
Height 6ft
Weight 14st 2lb

Tait played in every match of England’s 2007 World Cup campaign, starting five. The future seemed bright but injury problems, coupled with England’s desire to opt for power instead of finesse, have seen his career stutter. He’ll get a fresh start at Leicester, but will he be back in contention in 2015?

14. Right Wing – Rupeni Caucau
Age 31 (5 June 1980)
Born Nabouwalu
Country Fiji
Club Toulouse
Height 5ft 11in
Weight 17st 4lb

Speed, footwork and a talent for the spectacular; Caucau is a joy to watch, one of rugby’s greatest attacking geniuses. However, he’s not so good at timekeeping, weight watching or staying out of trouble. Anyone would love him in their team, but his unreliable nature means they don’t know if he’d turn up.

15. Full-back – Isa Nacewa
Age 29 (22 July 1982)
Born Auckland
Country Fiji
Club Leinster
Height 5ft 11in
Weight 13st 12lb

Two minutes – that’s how much Test rugby Nacewa has played. He didn’t realise that by playing for Fiji v Scotland in 2003 he was ineligible for the All Blacks and unsuccessfully tried to have the cap annulled. Fiji asked the Irish Players’ Player of the Year to play for them this year but he declined, to focus on his pregnant wife and twins.


16. Takeshi Kizu Japan
17. Ceri Jones Wales
18. Jone Qovu Fiji
19. Sione Lauaki New Zealand
20. Ricky Januarie South Africa
21. Nick Evans New Zealand
22. Regan King New Zealand

This article appeared in the October 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.

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