The 2015 World Cup is underway in less than 3 weeks. Since rugby’s global showpiece started in 1987 there have been many brothers that have played with each other throughout the years; The Underwoods, Tuilagis, Hastings and Wallaces to name a few.
While we remember the legacy left by some of these siblings, it’s worth noting the siblings representing their country this year. As all the countries finalise their squads, it looks like 10 sets of siblings are set to represent their countries on the grand stage.
Mako and Billy Vunipola (England)
The two have caused plenty of problems for defences since Billy’s move to Saracens in 2013. The brothers made Lancaster’s cut and will carry, tackle and ruck their way through Pool A in a bid to secure a quarter final spot. In a strange turn of events, Mako and Billy Vunipola will come up against their cousin Taulupe Faletau when England play Wales in Twickenham, expect the family friendliness to be put on hold until Christmas dinner.
Ben and Tom Youngs (England)
In a 31 man squad, it’s incredible that two sets of brothers will have the opportunity to represent their country, The Youngs’ are the second set of brothers in Lancaster’s squad and have featured in plenty of crunch games, not least the Lions winning test series.
Ben has been at the forefront of English rugby since his dazzling introduction back in 2010, he is now a lynchpin in the England side. Tom’s conversion from centre to hooker sparked a late surge that earned him an England cap, a Lions tour and now a World Cup spot.
Bismarck and Jannie Du Plessis (South Africa)
The Du Plessis brothers’ front row alliance with Tendai Mtawarira makes them one of the most feared front rows in the world. Bismarck Du Plessis only became a known name after the retirement of captain John Smit. Over the last 4 years, he has embodied the tough nature and physicality of South African rugby and will no doubt play a role in South Africa’s campaign this month.
Jannie Du Plessis is a cornerstone of the South African setpiece and an injury to him would certainly be a thorn in Heyneke Meyer’s side. Together the Du Plessis brothers are a force to be reckoned with and are leaders in the South African pack.
Rob and Dave Kearney (Ireland)
After a solid showing on the wing against Wales, Dave Kearney will join his brother Rob at the World Cup. The Kearneys are one of seven sets of brothers to have lifted the European Cup and the two will be looking to get as close as they can to rugby’s greatest accolade, The Webb Ellis Cup.
After success in 2014 in the Six Nations, the two brothers seem to work well when playing together. Dave suffered an injury strewn season in 2015 but now he looks safe as houses on the wing for Ireland.
Jonny and Richie Gray (Scotland)
Richie Gray has appeared to have fallen off the crest of the wave in more recent times. His athleticism, offloading and line breaking ability has yet to be seen this year, as he failed to retain his place in Scotland’s 2015 Six Nations. His younger brother Jonny has seemed to fill the void Richie left at Glasgow and has turned into a powerhouse second row, who can nearly be guaranteed a starting place when Scotland get their RWC campaign underway.
Richie Gray did enough to force his way into Cotter’s 31 man squad head of the much-fancied Jim Hamilton and will be looking to push his younger brother out of the starting second row,or indeed start alongside him.
Ken, George and Tusi Pisi (Samoa)
A trio of brothers starting at the Rugby World Cup would be an impressive backdrop behind Samoa’s World Cup. Northampton duo Ken and George have been so consistent for their club and Samoa’s hopes lie heavily on their shoulders. They will be looking to break down Scotland and South Africa’s defence with trademark hard lines and foot work.
The oldest of the three Tusi plays his rugby in North Harbour. He is an outhalf and has scored nearly 150 points in 20 games for his country.
The three brothers will cause plenty of problems in the backline, no doubt.
Phil and Jamie MacKenzie (Canada)
The Mackenzie brothers are set to play in their second Rugby World Cup together where they take on Ireland, France, Italy and Romania in Pool D. Phil Mackenzie plays his rugby in the Aviva Premiership with Sale Sharks while Jamie, the younger of the two, plays in their home country.
They will be involved in a backline that contains the likes of Jeff Hassler and DTH Van Der Merwe.
Sanele Vavae and Alesana Tuilagi (Samoa)
Everybody is familiar with The Tuilagis when it comes to Rugby World Cups, Henry, Manu and Freddie Tuilagi will forever be remembered for their powerful running throughout the tournament’s history. Alesana, now 34 and playing in his third tournament, will play a key role in Samoa’s 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign.
Second youngest of 6 brothers Sanele Vavae is one of many Rugby World Cup candidates playing rugby in the Pro D2. As a number 8 he has big shoes to fill in terms of living up to the legacy left by his older brother Henry.
Owen and Ben Franks (New Zealand)
The Franks’ have been scrapping it out for the number 3 jersey over the last 4 or 5 years, with the younger Owen a preferred starter. Having lifted the Rugby World Cup together in 2011, the two will be looking to do everything they can to retain rugby’s most prestigious award.
The powerful props will use their experience alongside Woodcock and Mealamu to provide solid setpiece ball, whichever game they should play.
Shalom and Andrew Suniula (USA)
The Samoan-born brothers have been included in Mike Tolkin’s 31-man squad. With Shalom as a fly-half and Andrew as entre the two will be looking to stake a claim in a backline that should include Chris Wyles, Zee Ngwenya and Blaine Scully.
Andrew, the elder of the two, plays his rugby in Romania while Shalom plays for the Seattle Saracens. They will play Japan, Scotland, South Africa and their native land Samoa during the Rugby World Cup.
We look forward to seeing these siblings on rugby’s main stage over the coming weeks.