Lions and former Wales scrum-half Robert Jones says he has sympathy for the Welsh captain.
"I'm disappointed for Ryan and I feel sorry for him," said Jones.
"Because six months ago he was the leading contender to be captain let alone a player on tour and now it's all been taken away.
"He hasn't been playing well admittedly and the Ospreys haven't been going well but I think he still merited a place."
'Fabulous honour' for Lions captain O'Connell
With Jones' not included it means that the captains of Wales, England (Steve Borthwick) and Scotland (Mike Blair) have failed to make the tour.
Though Wales have a healthy representation they have been pipped by Ireland, who boast 14 players including the captain Paul O'Connell.
The Lions depart on 24 May for a 10-match tour and play Test matches in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg.
British and Irish Lions squad to tour South Africa (age-club-country):
Lee Byrne (28) Ospreys and Wales Rob Kearney (23) Leinster and Ireland
Shane Williams (32) Ospreys and Wales Leigh Halfpenny (20) Cardiff Blues and Wales Ugo Monye (26) Harlequins and England Luke Fitzgerald (21) Leinster and Ireland Tommy Bowe (25) Ospreys and Ireland
Tom Shanklin (29) Cardiff Blues and Wales Jamie Roberts (22) Cardiff Blues and Wales Brian O'Driscoll (30) Leinster and Ireland Keith Earls (21) Munster and Ireland Riki Flutey (29) Wasps and England
Stephen Jones (31) Llanelli Scarlets and Wales Ronan O'Gara (32) Munster and Ireland
Mike Phillips (26) Ospreys and Wales Harry Ellis (26) Leicester and England Tomas O'Leary (25) Munster and Ireland
Gethin Jenkins (28) Cardiff Blues and Wales Adam Jones (28) Ospreys and Wales Andrew Sheridan(29) Sale and England Phil Vickery (33) Wasps and England Euan Murray (28) Northampton and Scotland
Jerry Flannery (30) Munster and Ireland Lee Mears (30) Bath and England Matthew Rees (28) Llanelli Scarlets and Wales
Paul O'Connell, capt (29) Munster and Ireland Alun Wyn Jones (23) Ospreys and Wales Donncha O'Callaghan (30) Munster and Ireland Nathan Hines (32) Perpignan and Scotland Simon Shaw (35) Wasps and England
Andy Powell (27) Cardiff Blues and Wales Jamie Heaslip (25) Leinster and Ireland Alan Quinlan (34) Munster and Ireland Martyn Williams (33) Cardiff Blues and Wales David Wallace (32) Munster and Ireland Joe Worsley (31) Wasps and England Stephen Ferris (23) Ulster and Ireland
30 May: Highveld XV; Royal Bafokeng, Rustenburg 3 June: Golden Lions; Ellis Park, Johannesburg 6 June: Cheetahs; Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein 10 June: Sharks; ABSA Park, Durban 13 June: Western Province; Newlands, Cape Town 16/17 June: Coastal XV; Port Elizabeth (Venue to be confirmed) 20 June: South Africa(first Test); ABSA Park, Durban 23 June: Emerging Springboks; Newlands, Cape Town 27 June: South Africa (second Test); Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria 4 July: South Africa (third Test); Ellis Park, Johannesburg
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