Here’s a selection of exciting players who we wish could have pulled on the England jersey a lot more during the 2000’s.
The XV varies from players who never got a chance to those who did but underperformed when their opportunity came.
Read on to see who we selecte:
15. Alex Goode
The full-back, who can also ply his trade at fly-half, earned international recognition with England in 2012, making his Test debut against South Africa and has since gone on to earn 21 caps and represent the Barbarians.
Named Premiership Rugby Player of the Season in 2015/16, Goode excelled in 2018/19 as Saracens won the double and was recognised for his displays by being voted European Player of the Year. Despite this stellar form, an England recall never came.
14. Christian Wade
The 2013 British & Irish Lion is poised to sensationally quit Wasps in order to pursue a lucrative career in the NFL, having grown disillusioned with rugby union.
The speedster had been one of the most recognised names in the domestic game, but his continued absence from the international set-up – having won just one England cap on the 2013 tour of Argentina – had left him frustrated and fed up of continuously being overlooked. What a waste.
13. Matthew Tait
Making his debut against Wales, when the then-18-year-old was repeatedly dumped by Welsh centre Gavin Henson is infamous. That day would set back Tait’s development significantly, but he still played in the Rugby World Cup in 2007. After a quiet tournament, Tait lit up the final against South Africa with a dashing break that led to Mark Cueto’s infamously disallowed try.
But if Tait’s footwork in the final demonstrated his talent, he was never able to demonstrate that consistently on the biggest stage. Shifts from outside centre, to wing and then to full-back stunted his progress and were indicative of a possible star whose versatility worked against him ultimately.
12. Ugo Monye
We’ve shifted the versatile back to the midfield to accommodate him in our selection. Selected for the 2009 Lions’ tour of South Africa, a player of Monye’s talent should have won a lot more than 14 caps for his country. He’s now smashing it as one of the best rugby pundits on TV.
11. James Simpson-Daniel
The Gloucester legend was always a fan favourite and narrowly missed out on selection for the 2003 World Cup, despite being involved in the all-conquering England team that dominated in the southern hemisphere during the 2002 Autumn Internationals.
Although heralded as a potential world-class wing, injury constantly blighted his career and numerous England head coaches looked to other options ahead of him. He ended his career with a pitiful 10 caps, but it could have and should have been so much more.