Rugby’s Biggest Flops

After the success of the “Ultimate Top 5” we decided to run another poll… Rugby’s Biggest Flops.

At one point in their careers these Professionals either reached the pinacle of rugby or were at least touted to… but at the end of it all due to injuries and on/off field problems these guys never quite fulfilled their maximum potential.

As Voted by YOU across Twitter & Facebook…
In no particular order here is 10 of “Rugby’s Biggest Flops”

Gavin Henson


What can you say about this man that hasn’t already been said? A former British & Irish Lion and Welsh International, he’s won two Grand Slams (05 & 08) but has this man fulfilled his once infinite potential?

Due to his celebrity lifestyle and much publicized relationship with singer Charlotte Church his career after the Lions tour of 2005 seemed to begin a never ending spiral. He’s been plagued with injuries and even took a sabatical in 2009 (Claiming he wanted to spend more time sailing). A man once touted as a potential world beater his career has become nothing but a disappointment. He bounced from club to club, returning for Ospreys after his sabatical and then moving on to Saracens, Toulon, Cardiff Blues & finally London Welsh.

These days he seems more recognized for his stints on Reality programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and the Bachelor. A career wasted in our opinion… Flopped according to your votes.


Danny Cipriani


Another man who’s more famous for his celebrity relationships and dealings off the field than he is his rugby.

An impressive start to his career with Wasps as their 10 saw him selected for the England Squad in 2008 for the Six Nations Championship. He was due to play full-back against Scotland but two days before Cipriani was to make his full England debut, he was axed from the squad due to “inappropriate behaviour”. Cipriani was photographed leaving a London nightclub at 12.30am. On he was also 6 October 2008 Cipriani was involved in a bust-up with club and international team-mate Josh Lewsey in a training ground fight. Cipriani was left nursing a bloody nose and cut lip following the incident at Wasps’ training ground. The spat started after Lewsey accused Cipriani of missing several tackles during a full-contact session.

Following an injury to Jonny Wilkinson, Cipriani gained the England number 10 shirt for the 2008 Autumn Internationals. He was then dropped following two poor displays in defeat to South Africa and Australia. Much was also made of his high-profile relationship with model Kelly Brook and concerns were raised by critics about whether he was fully committed to rugby.

In 2011 he signed for Australian Super 15 Franchise the Melbourne Rebels, he played on season and was criticised for poor defence. In 2012 he signed a 3-year deal with Sale Sharks and last year showed glimpses of his touted potential with an amazing try Vs the Scarlets.

A Rugby Flop nonetheless according to you!


 Rupeni Caucaunibuca


In his prime, Caucau was generally regarded by both journalists and international players as the greatest attacking player in world rugby. What happened?

Caucaunibuca has been described in the media as “one of the fastest and most flamboyant players in international rugby”. Scotland international Chris Paterson said of Caucaunibuca that “when he is fit, he can be the world’s best player” and that he “is the type who can win a game almost on his own.” England international centre Mike Tindall describes him as “the best player I have ever played against.” In October 2006 he was awarded France’s Player of the Year award.

He was named in the Pacific Islanders squad for the 2006 tour of Europe. However he only played in the match against Scotland after missing the first game against Wales and losing his passport thus not making the last match of the series against Ireland. In the Islanders game against Scotland he scored one try and set up another one.

On April 9, 2007 it was announced that Caucaunibuca had incurred a 3 month ban after testing positive for cannabis use following Agen’s Top 14 match against Montauban on March 24. This followed a generally poor season for both club and player in which Caucaunibuca had scored a solitary try in 11 matches. Though the ban had ended, he was not picked up by Fijito compete in the 2007 World Cup.

He left Agen following a number of injuries, being released by the club in February 2008. In July, he showed up for his local club, Tailevuin the Digicel Cup after being out of action for over 5 months.

After failing to show up for trials for the Leicester Tigers, he joined the Fiji Sevens training squad to prepare for the first lef of the season but after much deliberation by the Fiji Rugby Union, he was dropped from the training squad. A few days later, the sevens team coach, Waisale Serevi confirmed that Caucau has flown to France, back to his former club, Agen for another shot to revive his International career and Agen signed him on till the end of the season.

After failing to arrive in time to the club, He was fired and told to leave as the players and management no longer “trusted” him.

Another world beating talent… Flopped.


Tony Buckley


6ft 5in and 21 stone. He wears size 16 boots which must be custom made for him in Germany. What happened to Tony Buckley?

That amazing hand-off on Wasp’s Simon Shaw in the Heineken Cup. 25 caps for Ireland, Tony Buckley was touted as Ireland’s and Munster’s long-term replacement for John Hayes. Due to various different injuries and indifferent international performances the man mountain never quite fulfilled his potential.

In 2011 he signed for Sale Sharks and hasn’t added to his Ireland caps since. He hardly even starts for Sale anymore (50 games since 2011)

What happened to “Mushy”… A Rugby Flop according to your votes…

Tomas O’Leary


After a stop-start beginning to his career Tomas O’Leary catapulted onto the scene in 2008 cementing his role as Munster’s number 9, becoming an integral part of their Heineken Cup success that year. In 2009 He became Ireland’s number 9 and helped them to the Grand Slam. He was then selected as a result for the British and Irish Lions Tour of South Africa in 2009 and was touted by many to be the Test 9. However he sustained a broken ankle against Scarlets just weeks before the tour and was ruled out…

This spelled an injury stricken few years for Tomas (including a freak eye injury in 2011) and with the emergence of Munster’s Conor Murray was no longer the number 9 for club or country. He signed for London Irish for the 2012-13 season but missed almost the entire season due to a back injury.

Another Rugby Flop in your eyes… Albeit an unlucky one.

Lesley Vainikolo



A Rugby League convert, Vainikolo signed a 3-year deal with English Premiership side Gloucester in 2007. Vainikolo scored five tries on his debut for Gloucester against Leeds Carnegie on 16 September 2007.

As a union player, Vainikolo was eligible to play for Tonga by birth, New Zealand by parentage or England by residence. He applied for a British passport and was included in the English squad for the Six Nations in 2008.

He made his debut for England against Wales on 2 February 2008, while his second appearance came for England against Italy in Rome on 10 February 2008. He also played against France, also in the Six Nations on 23 February 2008, Scotland on 8 March 2008 and Ireland on 15 March 2008. So far he has played five test matches and is yet to score a try.

He was dropped by Rob Andrew for the England tour of New Zealand, and was left out of Martin Johnson’s Elite Squad for 2008–2009

In 2012 he signed for French side La Rochelle and faded away into the darkness… Ultimately Voted by you as one of Rugby’s Biggest Flops.


Andy Farrell



Another Rugby League convert who guess what: Flopped! Is it just us or did most Rugby League converts flop bar Jason Robinson… (Brian Carney is another one we just thought of!)

On 24 March 2005, Farrell announced his retirement from league to take on a new challenge with Saracens. A series of injuries and accidents (including a car crash) meant that his debut in the 15-man code was delayed until 2006.

Despite his achievements in rugby league, questions were asked regarding his ability to change to a different sport at a relatively old age along with doubts about how much surgery was needed on his knees. There was also some criticism of the sum England head coach Andy Robinson was willing to pay for such a perceived risk, and whether such a substantial amount of RFU money could not be better spent elsewhere.

Farrell made his England debut at Twickenham after he was named at inside centre in the first Six Nations game against Scotland. The 2007 World Cup saw Farrell playing in the unfamiliar position of fly-half against South Africa, in England’s chastening group stage defeat. He was then brought on as a replacement against Tonga in his more usual position of inside centre, and brought greater solidity to the midfield defensively, capping his impressive contribution with his first England try. However, after being picked for the quarter-final decider against Australia, he had to withdraw with a calf injury. Unfortunately, he never produced the performances in England colours which many, notably Robinson, had hoped for and ultimately won only 8 caps.

Another man voted by you as one of Rugby’s Biggest Flops


Matthew Tait


An impressive beginning to his career with Newcastle Falcons saw him called up to Englands 2007 World Cup Squad as their youngest player.

Comments made about his performance and ability during and after the 2007 World Cup include Mike Catt hailing him as “the future of English rugby”, particularly praising his performance against Tonga. Others have said he is “the exemplar of the coming generation” and that he “came of age in the final”

However another man to have unluckily have flopped. In recent years he’s been plague with injury, moving to Sale Sharks and now Leicester. He hasn’t featured for England since 2010 and remains injury plagued

As Tomas O’Leary earlier unlucky circumstances, but nonetheless as voted by you… One of Rugby’s Biggest Flops


Tom Varndell


He ran 10.58 seconds for the 100 metres as a schoolboy making him the fastest winger in the Aviva Premiership and rendering him as arguably one of the fastest men in European and World Rugby. What happened to Tom Varndell?

Varndell debuted for Leicester in 2004. in his second appearance with the Tigers senior side, he recorded the fastest hat-trick of tries in Premiership history, doing so in a 13-minute span against Worcester. He finished the 2005-06 regular season, top of the try list with 14.

However since then in the past 9 years… Varndell has only managed to get himself 4 caps for England. A man who just can’t stop scoring tries in the English Premiership but for some reason has never been able to take that extra step-up to the elite stage of world rugby.

Voted by you… One of Rugby’s Biggest Flops


Dylan Hartley

Dylan Hartley,  the Northampton and England hooker, had ban reduced

Do we need to say much about this guy? The man you love to hate.

Hartley was given the opportunity of a lifetime when he was a shock inclusion in Warren Gatland’s 2013 Lions Squad… A chance to revive his career after several controversial incidents and losing the England number 2 jersey. What does he do? You guessed it, he throws it away in an act of stupidity…

As voted by you… Another of Rugby’s Biggest Flops


There you have it… 10 of Rugby’s Biggest Flops. Be sure to leave your comments below and let us know who you think is missing from the list or if you disagree with any of the players on this list… Remember they were VOTED in by you!. FloppedLADS

Follow Me