Rugby lookalikes: 23 players and coaches that bear a striking resemblance to famous people and characters

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

There’s always that odd time you watch a match or see a player/coach and think, ‘hang on a minute, they look like…’

Well, we’ve compiled a list which delves into those from the sport – past and present – and who they remind us of.

Nic White and Borat

The Wallabies scrum-half’s moustache has taken on a cult-like status, while it has also gotten opposition players into trouble, as Faf de Klerk found out.

South Africa’s half-back had the temerity to slap it, leading to him being sin-binned by the referee. However, it does have its downside as it makes him look rather like Sacha Baron Cohen’s character, Borat Sagdiyev. Very nice!

Maxime Medard and Wolverine

The former France international became famous for his sideburns during his career, reminiscent of Hugh Jackman’s character from the X-Men films.

If anything, Jackman takes it on the muscle stakes, given how ripped he is when playing the role, but Medard has the better facial hair for us.

Paul Tito and Ed Sheeran

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Have these two ever been seen in the same room? Didn’t think so. The former Cardiff and New Zealand Maori lock had the similar ginger-coloured hairstyle as the ‘Shape Of You’ singer.

Sheeran also played in New Zealand recently, performing in a Black Ferns shirt, so perhaps that was actually Tito?

Vincent Koch and Mr Incredible

With the blonde hair, that quiff at the top and his well built frame, the resemblance between the Springbok prop and the cartoon character is uncanny.

Koch knows it himself and has even dressed up as Mr Incredible. Judging by his efforts at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, he really is a superhero.

Jacques Nienaber and Moby

We know, middle-aged bald bloke looks like middle-aged bald bloke, but there is much more to it than that.

Especially when Nienaber wears his dark-rimmed glasses, we could picture him perform him performing ‘Lift Me Up’, or perhaps even Moby coaching the Springboks.

Romanian shirt and H from Steps

Not strictly a rugby player but we couldn’t help but notice the similarities between this pretty awful Romanian shirt from 2021 and the attire on Joseph in this 2004 adaptation of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.’

At some point, we’re fully expecting the Stejarii to burst into song and belt out ‘Any Dream Will Do.’ It would certainly be a shock for their opponents.

Gareth Thomas and Alfie

One of those whose nickname derives from their ‘lookalike’. In regards to Thomas, it was an American sitcom character called ALF.

That was, rather cruelly, an acronym for ‘Alien Life Form,’ but it stuck for the Wales great and he has taken ownership of the nickname over the years.

Hugh Pyle and Jon Snow

The former Rebels lock is a good looking fella and probably gets the most flattering comparison, likened to the Game of Thrones hero.

Jon Snow, or actor Kit Harrington if you like, was extremely popular on the show, so no doubt many fellow rugby players will look on enviously. Still, he’s a second-row so he may look more like Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane by the end of his career.

Martin Johnson and Ferengi

Team-mates can be savage can’t they? In some ways, we have to salute the brave person who decided to christen Johnson with this nickname as their life probably didn’t last much longer.

The World Cup-winning captain’s rugby playing abilities could be described as other-worldly but so were his looks, apparently, with his furrowed brow being compared to the alien race from Star Trek.

James O’Connor and Justin Bieber

The Wallabies back came to prominence as a teenager and his boyish good looks naturally drew comparisons with the Canadian popstar.

O’Connor was breaking through just as Bieber was becoming famous, while the Australian international was also considered a bit of a ‘diva’, so the likeness unsurprisingly stuck.

Eben Etzebeth and Bruno

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Of course, we’re not willing to show Etzebeth’s lookalike to his face as we would imagine he wouldn’t take too kindly to it, but even he has to admit there is a striking resemblance to this Sacha Baron Cohen character.

Perhaps this is a way players can wind him up as very little else seems to stop him from dominating the opposition.

Adriaan Strauss and Philip Seymour Hoffman

With that short, blonde hair and thick neck, Strauss looks exactly like the Oscar-winning actor, who is very sadly no longer with us.

Strauss starred in a number of leading roles himself during his career, earning 66 caps for the Springboks and starring for the Cheetahs and Bulls before retiring in 2018.

Kurtley Beale and Lando Calrissian

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

With that slight parting in the moustache, Beale is basically the Star Wars character helping the Rebels to defeat the Empire.

Calrissian was known for his ‘quick wit’ and being ‘daring’. We’re not quite sure on the former with Beale, but the latter certainly applies to him, with his preference to counter-attacking and taking chances with ball in hand.

Sam Warburton and Jake Sully (Tsyeyk te Suli)

Another which has derived from his team-mates but this one is rather more flattering than the others. Well, we think so anyway.

Warburton was coming to prominence when Avatar came out and he was given the nickname from that. Team-mates said publicly that it wasn’t to do with his likeness to the Na’vi, and particularly the character Jake Sully, but the ex-Wales skipper reckons it was, due to him being “tall and gangly”, as well his “nose and deep-set eyes”.

Duane Vermeulen and Thor

Let’s be honest, it was actually Vermeulen that played Thor in the movies, not Chris Hemsworth, and there was no CGI. The number eight is so powerful that there wasn’t any need to exacerbate his strength and, as a result, they saved plenty of money and were well under budget.

He picked up the hammer so easily and flung Loki across the skies with comfort. In fact, did I mention that Thor, starring Vermeulen, was actually a documentary?

Jono Gibbes and Kevin James

Without a job at the moment after leaving Clermont Auvergne, should Gibbes now decide to turn his hand to comedy and turn up at gigs calling himself ‘Kevin James,’ no one would bad an eyelid.

The only question is the New Zealander’s accent but we can certainly work on that.

Rory Clegg and Prince Harry

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Clegg was a talented age-grade player, starring for England U20s, but he never quite became rugby royalty. After alternating between Newcastle Falcons and Harlequins, he played for a few different clubs, including Glasgow Warriors and Ealing Trailfinders, but he didn’t fulfil his potential.

The former fly-half could, however, get a job as a Prince Harry lookalike, although quite whether there would be any work for him, given how Harry has angered a proportion of the UK, is another question.

Liam Williams and Sanjay

When on holiday in Scotland, a family thought he looked like the EastEnders character Sanjay Kapoor, who was played by Deepak Verma from 1993 to 1998.

It has of course been adopted as a nickname for the Wales full-back, which has stuck to this day.

Ollie Lawrence and Ice Cube

With credit to @thedeadballarea, we couldn’t quite get it out of our heads when they mentioned it on social media.

As well as their facial likeness, Lawrence is a multi-skilled centre – effective in attack, defence and breakdown – which compares nicely with the talented Ice Cube, who raps, acts and directs. Straight Outta Bath.

Francois Pienaar and Matt Damon

There was plenty of mocking in the rugby world over Damon’s casting in Invictus, with the actor standing at 5’10’’ and Pienaar 6’ 3’, but he did a good job of portraying South Africa’s World Cup-winning captain.

When Pienaar (Damon) received the trophy from Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman), we couldn’t tell the difference between the iconic moment in 1995 and the 2009 film.

Well…we could, but y’know.

Shaun Edwards and Jonathan Banks

Should France claim the World Cup, we would love nothing more than to see the ‘Breaking Bad’ actor play Les Bleus’ defence coach in the movie.

For one, Banks is a brilliant performer, but also, it would be quite something to see Edwards’ broad Wigan accent portrayed on film.

Tim Swiel and Rassie Erasmus

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

We quite frankly had to check that these two weren’t related when we put the pictures side-by-side. Rassie, are you sure the former Harlequins and Stormers back is not your long lost son?

This is the only rugby on rugby comparison but it is uncanny. We’re surprised Swiel hasn’t been selected for the Boks simply because of his likeness to Erasmus.

Keith Wood and Uncle Fester

Another player whose resemblance to someone or something resulted in it becoming their nickname. Wood was called ‘The Raging Potato’ because of his bald head but he was also given the title ‘Uncle Fester’, due to his likeness to the Addams Family character.

The ‘Wednesday’ casting director certainly missed an opportunity by not contacting the former Ireland hooker for the role.

READ MORE: Right Place, Wrong Time: Players who were too good to play second fiddle

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