"A penalty machine" - England's worst ever XV revealed after poll - Ruck

“A penalty machine” – England’s worst ever XV revealed after poll

Eddie Jones men currently have a number of stars – but that’s not always been the case…

First of all, we have to say that to play for England you have to be a very good player – but these players, for one reason or another, never quite performed as they would have liked in the famous white jersey.

Here at RUCK RUGBY, we have chosen our worst England XV from the last 20 years…


  • 15. Mark Van Gisbergen
  • 14. Barrie-Jon Mather
  • 11. Lesley Vainikolo

Yes, Van Gisbergen did with a cap against Australia in 2005 – but he does boast a 100% winning ratio in international colours, so you can’t knock that.

Mather became the first player to represent Great Britain in Rugby League and England in Union. His move to union was part funded by the RFU, who were embarking on a strategy of converting some of leagues best talent. However, he struggled to make an impact with Sale and moved back to Castleford in 2000.

Finally, the Volcano’ stormed onto the scene for Gloucester, doing something ridiculous like scoring five tries on his debut against Leeds, before qualifying for England on residency grounds. International honours followed, with Vainikolo making his England debut against Wales in 2008. However, he failed to bring his try-scoring form to the international scene and was quickly dropped from Martin Johnston’s squad after winning five caps.


  • 13. Joel Tompkins
  • 12. Sam Burgess

England, who fast-tracked Burgess into their World Cup squad in defiance of logic, Bath and the player himself each shoulder varying degrees of blame for arguably the greatest cross-code flop in history. We’re not saying he was an awful player, but the whole thing was a complete disaster.

Meanwhile, Tomkins initially struggled to adapt to union, but his form during the beginning of the 2013/14 season saw him earn an England cap against Australia in November 2013. Although he went on to make two further international appearances, he looked completely out of his depth and returned to league soon after.

Sam Burgess of England waits to come back onto the pitch after being sin binned against France – Photo mandatory by-line: Gareth Davies/Pinnacle – Tel: +44(0)1363 881025 – Mobile:0797 1270 681 – VAT Reg No: 183700120 – 15/08/2015 – SPORT – RUGBY UNION – QBE INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY – England v France – Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London, England.


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