Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global

Eight England players whose RWC journeys will end this Autumn

By Ian Cameron
Dan Cole of England is embraced by Manu Tuilagi of England after the Six Nations Rugby match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium on March 18, 2023 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

There’s a scene Creed – one of the more recent instalments of the long-running Rocky franchise – where the eponymous character played by Sylvester Stallone tells Adonis Creed that: ‘Time takes everybody out; time’s undefeated.”


And it’s every bit as true in rugby union as it is in boxing, if not arguably more so.

As the 2023 Rugby World Cup approaches, we look at a number of England players who – if selected – will almost certainly play in their last tournament this year when they compete for the Webb Ellis trophy for the final time.

Dan Cole – 40 years old in September 2027. Cole’s return to England fold has been a joyous one for the Leicester prop but given he didn’t expect to be in the mix for the 2023 World Cup until recently, it’s safe to assume 2027 is not a realistic goal.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

Jamie George – Nearing 37 years of age in September 2027. A try-scoring hooker with plenty of experience, George has been a key part of the England and Saracens squad for many years. With 77 caps to his name already, George will very likely be making his final World Cup bow in France.

Mako Vunipola – 36 years old in September 2027. A powerful prop with an impressive work rate, Vunipola has been a consistent performer for England since his first cap back in 2012. 36 is doable as a prop but with Ellis Genge already the first-choice loosehead, Australia in four years’ time looks like a stretch.

Ben Youngs – 38 years old in September 2027. A veteran scrum-half with over 100 caps for England, Youngs has been a key player for the team for many years but saw limited game time in the Guinness Six Nations, suggesting making the 2023 tournament will be a battle in and of itself.

Courtney Lawes – 38 years old in September 2027. A versatile lock/flanker, Lawes has been a key part of the England pack for over a decade. He is likely to continue to play an important role in the team’s World Cup campaign but it will surely be his last.


Anthony Watson – 33 years old in September 2027. A talented winger with speed and skill at his disposal, Watson has been a key player for England in recent years but 33 is true elder statesman territory for a winger, a position where pace is king and young guns are generally favoured. The two-time British & Irish Lions tourist has been dogged by injuries in recent years, so another four years of Test rugby might a beyond him.

Wales England <a href=
Six Nations verdict” width=”1920″ height=”1080″ /> Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones with England’s Owen Farrell at full-time (Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Owen Farrell – will turn 36 in September of 2027. Using 37-year Johnny Sexton as a yardstick here might be a treacherous proposition, given the Leinster veteran made his Ireland debut a tad late at the age of 24. Farrell on the other hand made his Test bow against Scotland at the age of just 20, suggesting while he’s six years younger than the Irishman, he has nearly as many miles on the clock in the Test arena. With Marcus Smith breathing down his throat, 2027 is looking unlikely.

Manu Tuilagi – will be 36 in September 2027. His participation in France this year isn’t quite a given, even if fit. Australia looks inconceivable for the Sale Sharks wrecking ball, even if his ability to plough through defenders is yet to ebb.




Join free



Trending on RugbyPass


lot 448 days ago

wow. shock very smart. well then, only applies to english players. check out the Boks... some fairly old guys there and still playing. journalists dont retire them. write something smarter, not gossippy like this silly piece.

Roy 448 days ago

So, you look at the oldest players in and around the squad and then put them into a list? Wow, insightful.

Let's do the same for Wales. AWJ, Ken Owens... does that make me a journalist too?

Nathan 449 days ago

This article is basically just a “i’ve decided to retire you cos your age” and completely ignores forms which is unsurprising.

Smith is not breathing down Farrells neck. He’s been very unconvincing and disappointing internationally.

Watson is far from retirement. He’s not in his best form but he’s not average either. He’s an 7 not an 8/9 that he can be.

Jaime George is far from retirement and will probably go until 2027 at club level and maybe even 2027 international. He’s on form, until that drops don’t drop him.

Load More Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

FEATURE How England can shatter the All Blacks' Eden Park streak How England can shatter the All Blacks' Eden Park streak