"Under 25 Caps" Wales Breakout Star To Miss Rugby World Cup As He Plays in England - Ruck

“Under 25 Caps” Wales Breakout Star To Miss Rugby World Cup As He Plays in England

Breakout Welsh centre Joe Hawkins has been left out of Warren Gatland’s wider training group for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, due to the WRU’s eligibility laws. The heavily debated restrictions have impacted Hawkins, as the talented centre has less than 25 first team caps, and is set to play his club rugby outside of Wales.

Hawkins has made five caps for his country, yet will be joining Exeter Chiefs ahead of the 2023/24 season. Hawkins has just finished his United Rugby Championship season with the Ospreys, with this upcoming move to England unfortunately costing him his place in Gatland’s squad.

Hawkins made his first cap for Wales against Australia, during the 2022 Autumn Series. He was a shining talent throughout Wales’ turbulent 2023 Guinness Six Nations campaign, as he started the first four matches. An unfortunate injury side-lined Hawkins for the Round Five match with France, and few would have thought that he might had played his last match for his country at the age of 20.

Will Rowlands of Wales during the Six Nations Championship match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on February 26th 2021. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

The ongoing Wales eligibility saga has entered it’s latest chapter, with Hawkins’ circumstances not at all helped by the selection of Dragons lock Will Rowlands. The 31-year-old has 23 Wales caps and has agreed a move to Racing 92 for the 2023/24 Top 14 season, however the second row has achieved a place in the wider Wales training group.

Wales have three warm-up matches ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, where Rowlands will make up the two required caps to continue his Welsh eligibility overseas. Additionally, if Hawkins was uncapped by Wales when he signed his contract with Exeter Chiefs, he could have been selected for Wales as per the regulations.