The countdown to the 2023 Rugby World Cup has officially begun and it’s less than a year until the competition kicks off on 8 September 2023. Of course, for rugby fans all over Britain, this can mean only one thing: it’s time to start talking about players.
Unfortunately, as it currently stands, players from all four nations are unavailable due to injury or lack of form. With that being said, here are some of the UK’s greatest rugby players who could miss the next tournament.
Owen Farrell and Jonny May are just two of the England players who are currently sidelined. Farrell sustained a head injury and concussion during Saracens’ defeat of Exeter, leading to a 12-day stand down. While May, the England Wing, suffered a suspected dislocated elbow during Gloucester’s win against London Irish. This comes after a tough 18 months for the talented player, who also tore his meniscus earlier this year and subsequently missed the Six Nations.
Additionally, Henry Arundell and Jamie George are dealing with foot injuries. However, while there’s a possibility that Arundell could return in time for the Autumn Nations Series, George has been ruled out for 10 weeks.
For Wales, there are ongoing questions about Alex Cuthbert. The Wales wing suffered a shoulder injury while playing against South Africa earlier this year and he’s yet to make his return. However, the real concern is Leigh Halfpenny. The fullback twisted his knee during his 100th Test appearance, with the damage to his ligaments requiring surgery. Halfpenny has been positive about his progress but he still has a long way to go before returning to the field, which could leave him out of Wales’ World Cup squad.
Ireland may be the number one rugby team in the world, but even the Irish aren’t without their injury woes. This includes Johnny Sexton, who has made almost as many headlines for his talent as he has for concussions. The Irish fly-half has allegedly suffered up to 30 concussions during his career and has been plagued by ankle and hamstring injuries during 2022.
Scottish fans were devastated to learn that Finn Russell hasn’t been capped for the Autumn Nations Series. This has led to speculation about Russell’s future, with Peter Wright, the former Scotland prop, saying “it could be the end of his Scotland career.”
Meanwhile, rumours have been circulating about Stuart Hogg after he was stripped of the Scotland captaincy for the Autumn Nations Series. George Townsend has defended his decision, stating that relieving Hogg of this added pressure will help the team to “get the best out of him with where he is physically.” But whether he’s chosen for the 2023 World Cup squad remains to be seen.