Best XV who never played for the British and Irish Lions includes SEVEN Englishmen - Ruck

Best XV who never played for the British and Irish Lions includes SEVEN Englishmen

Earning a spot on the British & Irish Lions team stands as the pinnacle of achievement in rugby, yet amidst the celebrated names, there exist remarkable talents who never adorned the revered red jersey.

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For some, the path diverged towards rugby league, while others encountered untimely injuries or disciplinary setbacks.

Despite their prowess, they fell short of selectors’ favor, leaving their Lions dreams unrealized.

In a revealing compilation by The Telegraph, they highlight fifteen such individuals, including a surprising contingent of seven English players.

Notably, their selection features a Rugby World Cup champion. Delve into their complete lineup below.

Telegraph’s best XV who never played for the British and Irish Lions

15. Chris Paterson (Scotland, 109 caps)

14. Sean Lamont (Scotland, 105 caps)

13. Mike Tindall (England, 75 caps)

They wrote: “The World Cup winner could barely have done more on the international stage to stake his claim, but the former centre’s game was always deemed too limited and conservative for the Lions. He was a dogged, hardy competitor, but Tindall’s best rugby always came when the artist to his artisan, Will Greenwood, was outside him.”

12. Danny Cipriani (England, 16 caps*)

They wrote: “A little creative licence has been granted, with Cipriani sliding out to inside centre to make way for Jonathan Davies at fly-half, but leaving out either of these precious talents seemed mindless.”

Danny Cipriani of England during the Quilter Cup Match between England and Barbarians at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on May 27. – PHOTO: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

11. Simon Geoghegan (Ireland, 37 caps)

10. Jonathan Davies (Wales, 37 caps)

9. Peter Stringer (Ireland, 98 caps)

1. Duncan Jones (Wales, 57 caps)

2. Dylan Hartley (England, 97 caps)

They wrote: “Two little words were all it took for Hartley’s Lions dreams to crumble to dust. The 11-week ban that the former England captain copped for telling referee Wayne Barnes to “f— off” in Northampton’s 2013 Premiership final loss to Leicester put the nail in his Lions coffin.”

3. Jeff Probyn (England, 37 caps)

4. Joe Launchbury (England, 65 caps*)

5. Gareth Llewellyn (Wales, 92 caps)

6. Chris Robshaw (England, 66 caps)

They wrote: “If effort, commitment and industriousness were the three hallmarks of Lions selection, then the former England captain would have received the call-up in a heartbeat. As it was, when the best of the best from four nations were available, the former Harlequin, now at San Diego Legion, came up just short.”

7. Steffon Armitage (England, five caps)

8. Anthony Foley (Ireland, 62 caps)

The current 36-man British & Irish Lions squad for 2025, according to the bookies

We found it intriguing to project a smaller squad based on the favored contenders according to bookmakers’ odds as of April19, 2024.

The Lions will play a New Zealand and Australia invitational XV as part of their nine-match tour down under in 2025. 

The historic fixture in Adelaide will precede Test matches with the Wallabies in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. 

A sell-out at the 100,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground would smash records for a Lions Test match. 

The series finale will be played in front of more than 80,000 fans in Sydney’s Olympic Park.

The 2025 Lions tour fixtures in full

  • Saturday 28 June: v Western Force, Optus Stadium, Perth
  • Wednesday 2 July: v Queensland Reds, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
  • Saturday 5 July: v New South Wales Waratahs, Allianz Stadium, Sydney
  • Wednesday 9 July: v ACT Brumbies, GIO Stadium, Canberra
  • Saturday 12 July: v Invitational Australia & NZ XV, Adelaide Oval
  • Saturday 19 July: First Test, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
  • Tuesday 22 July: v Melbourne Rebels, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
  • Saturday 26 July: Second Test, Melbourne Cricket Ground
  • Saturday 2 August: Third Test, Accor Stadium, Sydney

The bolded players in our proposed Lions squad represent the starting XV, according to current odds.



  • Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland) – 1/16
  • James Lowe (Ireland) – 1/8
  • Hugo Keenan (Ireland) – 1/5
  • Tommy Freeman (England) – 4/9
  • Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (England) – 8/11
  • Mack Hansen (Ireland) – 2/1


  • Bundee Aki (Ireland) – 1/5
  • Ollie Lawrence (England) – 1/4
  • Sione Tuipulotu (Scotland) – 2/7
  • Robbie Henshaw (Ireland) – 8/11


  • George Ford (England) – 1/10
  • Marcus Smith (England) – 8/15
  • Finn Russell (Scotland) – 8/11