England U20s – Lions, Internationals, & Premiership stars in waiting

When England U20s take to the field in tomorrow’s JWC final against South Africa at Eden Park, they should do so with confidence that regardless of the result, they are on the pathway to success.

Of course that future success is not guaranteed, nor will it or can it fall to everyone, but all should know that with the right application and a little slice of luck they are on course not just for a rugby career, but for a very good one indeed.

Four times before England have reached the JWC final, in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013. 101 players have been involved in those squads (Callum Clark, Luke Eves, Ben Youngs, Rob Miller, Charlie Sharples, Courtney Lawes, and Seb Stegman were involved in both 2008 and 2009) and the number of success stories is incredible.

Those four squads have produced five British and Irish Lions, nineteen England internationals (including those Lions), and a Scotland international. When you consider that the 2013 side is mainly made up of players either still in the U20s squad or only just breaking out of club Academies, that number looks even more impressive.

Furthermore there have been fourteen players who have represented England in ‘non-cap’ fixtures, suggesting that they are well and truly on Stuart Lancaster’s radar, as well as a further ten players whose highest honour to date is an England Saxons cap.

That means that having represented the U20s full squad in a JWC final campaign, forty-four of the 101 players involved have gone on to represent England (and Scotland) at a higher level. When the 2013 crop matures, it is likely that that stat will read at pretty much half of those involved across the four finals.

The current crop has plenty in their number who could add to that impressive list, perhaps most obvious at the moment is tomorrow’s captain, second row Maro Itoje.

The Saracens lock is an outstanding athlete who relishes the physical aspect of the game, whilst also being blessed with the ball skills and all round game to be able to play in the back row. In fact the second row is a real area of strength for England, the Bath duo of Charlie Ewles and the injured Tom Ellis are capable of going a long way in the game.

In the centres things also look very encouraging for England. Nick Tompkins is a special talent, the young Saracen has started every match in this JWC and along with Harry Sloan could go a long way. That these two are keeping Tom Stephenson, who was late for the tournament as he was on the bench for Northampton Saints’ Aviva Premiership final (a sign of just how good he is), is an impressive achievement.

Sloan, along with Gloucester’s Ross Moriarty are the only two players to have started both last year’s final and this, suggesting promising signs for both.

Whether they start, are on the bench, or are just in the wider squad though, has not prevented success. Last year Ollie Devoto was on the bench for the final but he played against the Barbarians for England earlier this month, while in 2011 Jonathan Joseph missed out on the matchday squad but has gained several England caps. Glocuester’s Elliot Stooke suffered the same fate last year but has an England Saxons cap to his name now.

The stats for progression to further international representation are impressive and while naturally that is the holy grail for any rugby player, the real bread and butter of their rugby lives is ensuring a long and successful club career, and it is there that the progression statistics from England’s JWC finalist teams really stand out.

Of the 101 different players involved in those four squads, eighty-four have Premiership rugby careers*, while two are currently playing full time in the England 7s squad.

Outside of that eight players are playing in the Championship, one for Edinburgh in the Pro 12, one in Romania, and one with Rosslyn Park at the top of National League One, and one is a multiple Oxford University blue.

That is an incredible strike rate. Essentially, aside from a very small number of anomalies, with the right dedication and commitment over 80% of the players involved with the England U20 set up will end up in the Premiership, with the rest playing Championship rugby.

Only three players to have been part of an England U20s set up that reached the JWC final are no longer in the game. Scott Hobson and Josh Ovens both unfortunately had to retire through injury, whilst having been unable to find any information about his recent career it is assumed that the ex London Irish hooker James Clark has also retired.

For the 2013 crop this is a wonderful opportunity, but for the rest of us as fans it is also an opportunity. An opportunity to see the future of English rugby, and the idols for many of the next decade.

Seven percent of these guys are likely to become British & Irish Lions (calculated excluding the 2013 crop, who were still U20s during the last tour), while 20% are likely to become full internationals with a further 25% knocking on the fringes of the National side.

Yes, these U20s are definitely headed along the path to success. With hard work and a little luck, tomorrow morning we will all be watching the stars of the next few years’ rugby landscape.

*Based on the 2013/14 Aviva Premiership Season.

England U20 XV v South Africa U20

15 Aaron Morris (Bedford Blues)
 14 Howard Packman (Northampton Saints) 
13 Nick Tompkins (Saracens)
 12 Harry Sloan (Harlequins) 11 Nathan Earle (Saracens)
 10 Billy Burns (Gloucester) 
9 Henry Taylor (Loughborough University);  1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints) 2 Tom Woolstencroft (Bath)
 3 Paul Hill (Leeds Carnegie)
 4 Maro Itoje (Saracens, captain)
 5 Charlie Ewels (Bath)
 6 Ross Moriarty (Gloucester) 7 Gus Jones (London Wasps)
 8 James Chisholm (Harlequins).

Replacements:  16 Jack Walker (Leeds Carnegie) 
17 Alex Lundberg (London Wasps) 
18 Biyi Alo (Saracens) 
19 Hayden Thompson-Stringer (Saracens)
 20 Joel Conlon (Exeter Chiefs)
 21 Callum Braley (Bristol) 22 Sam Olver (Northampton Saints)
 23 Henry Purdy (Leicester Tigers).

Further Squad: Harry Rudkin (Leicester Tigers)  Cameron Neild (Sale Sharks, injury rep), George Catchpole (Leicester Tigers, injury rep)  Jordan Onojaife (Northampton Saints, injury rep).

Injured: Tom Ellis (Bath)  Jonny Hill (Gloucester)  Harry Thacker (Leicester Tigers)  Tom Fowlie (London Irish).

England U20 JWC Final Matchday Squads – Where are they now

2008

2009

Name

Highest Honour

Name

Highest Honour

Nathan Catt

England (Non Cap) & Bath

Ben Moon

Exeter Chiefs

Joe Gray

England & Harlequins

Jamie George

England Saxons & Saracens

Alex Corbisiero

Lions, England & Northampton

Bob Baker

Oxford University

Ben Thomas

Rotherham Titans

Graham Kitchener

England (Non Cap) & Leicester

Gregor Gillanders

Bedford Blues

James Gaskell

England (Non Cap) & Wasps

Jon Fisher

London Irish

Courtney Lawes

England & Northampton

Callum Clark

England Saxons & Northampton

Callum Clark

England Saxons & Northampton

Hugo Ellis

Rosslyn Park

Carl Fearns

England (Non Cap) & Bath

Joe Simpson

England & London Wasps

Ben Youngs

Lions, England, & Leicester Tigers

Alex Goode

England & Saracens

Rory Clegg

Newcastle Falcons

Miles Benjamin

England Saxons & Leicester Tigers

Charlie Sharples

England & Gloucester

Jordan Turner-Hall

England & Harlequins

Luke Eves

Bristol

Luke Eves

Bristol

Henry Trinder

England (Non Cap) Gloucester

Mark Odejobi

England 7s

George Lowe

England Saxons & Harlequins

Noah Cato

England Saxons & Newcastle Falcons

Tom Homer

London Irish

Replacements

Replacements

Scott Freer

Leeds Carnegie

James Clark

Unknown (was at London Irish)

Billy Moss

London Welsh

Shaun Knight

England Saxons & Gloucester

Scott Hobson

Retired through injury

Dan Williams

Plymouth Albion

Matthew Cox

Worcester Warriors

Josh Ovens

Retired Through Injury

Ben Youngs

Lions, England, & Leicester Tigers

Dave Lewis

England Saxons & Exeter Chiefs

Rob Miller

England Saxons & Sale Sharks

Rob Miller

England Saxons & Sale Sharks

Seb Stegman

London Welsh

Jack Cobden

CSM Bucharesti (Romania)

Wider Squad

Wider Squad

James Clark

Unknown (was at London Irish

Joe Marler

England & Harlequins

Courtney Lawes

England & Northampton

Chris York

Newcastle Falcons

Charlie Sharples

England & Gloucester

Tom Casson

Harlequins

Alex Tait

Newcastle Falcons

Seb Stegman

London Welsh

 

 

Greig Tonks

Scotland & Edinburgh

England U20 JWC Final Matchday Squads – Where are they now

2011

2013

Name

Highest Honour

Name

Highest Honour

Mako Vunipola

Lions, England, & Saracens

Alec Hepburn

London Wasps

Mike Haywood

Northampton Saints

Luke Cowan-Dickie

Exeter Chiefs (& England Squad)

Henry Thomas

England & Sale Sharks

Scott Wilson

England Saxons & Newcastle Falcons

Joe Launchbury

England & London Wasps

Tom Price

Leicester Tigers

Charlie Matthews

England (Non Cap) & Harlequins

Dominic Barrow

Newcastle Falcons

Sam Jones

London Wasps & Barbarians

Ross Moriarty

Current U20s & Gloucester

Matt Kvesic

England & Gloucester

Matt Hankin

Saracens

Alex Gray

England 7s

Jack Clifford

Harlequins (& Ealing)

Chris Cook

Bath

Alex Day

Northampton Saints

George Ford

England & Bath

Henry Slade

England (Non Cap) & Exeter

Christian Wade

Lions, England, & London Wasps

Ben Howard

Worcester Warriors

Owen Farrell

Lions, England, & Saracens

Sam Hill

England (Non Cap) & Exeter

Elliot Daly

England (Non Cap) & London Wasps

Harry Sloan

Current U20s & Harlequins

Andy Short

Bristol

Anthony Watson

England (Non Cap) & Bath

Ben Ransom

Saracens

Jack Nowell

England & Exeter Chiefs

Replacements

Replacements

Rob Buchanan

England (Non Cap & Harlequins)

Scott Spurling

Saracens

Will Collier

England (Non Cap) & Harlequins

Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi

Current U20s & Northampton

Sam Twomey

Harlequins

Tom Smallbone

London Irish Academy

Matt Everard

London Wasps

Harry Wells

Leicester Tigers Academy

Dan Robson

England (Non Cap) & Gloucester

David Sisi

Bath

Ryan Mills

Worcester Warriors

Ollie Devoto

England (Non Cap) & Bath

Marland Yarde

England & London Irish

Henry Purdy

Current U20s & Leicester Tigers

Wider Squad

Wider Squad

Ryan Bower

Worcester Warriors

Joel Conlon

Current U20s & Exeter Chiefs

Koree Britton

Northampton Saints

Nathan Morris

London Wasps

Guy Armitage

London Irish

Elliot Stooke

England Saxons & Gloucester

Jonathan Joseph

England & Bath

Callum Braley

Current U20 captain & Gloucs

 

 

Will Hooley

Northampton Saints

 

 

Mark Jennings

Sale Sharks

 

 

Tom Stephenson

Current U20s & Northampton

Year by Year stats breakdowns:

2008

Lions = 2

England = 8

England Non Cap = 1

Saxons = 4

7s = 1

Premiership = 16

Non Prem = 7

Left Game = 1

Unknown =1

2009 (excluding ’08 representatives: Clark, Eves, Youngs & Miller, Sharples, Lawes, Stegman)

England = 1

Scotland = 1

England Non Cap = 4

Saxons = 4

Premiership = 14

Non Prem = 3

Pro 12 = 1

Left Game = 1

2011

Lions = 3

England = 9

England Non Cap = 5

7s = 1

Premiership = 24

Non Prem = 1

2013

England = 1

England Non Cap = 4

Saxons = 2

Premiership = 29

U20s = 8

2010 Squad (4th Place):

Joe Marler, Lee Imiolek, Jamie George, Arthur Ellis, Shaun Knight, Calum Green, George Kruis, Mako Vunipola, Charlie Matthews, Jamie Gibson, Jacob Rowan, Will Welch, Alex Gray, Jackson Wray.

Sam Harrison, Charlie Davies, Freddie Burns, Rory Clegg, Andrew Forsyth, Tom Casson, Tom Catterick, Jonny May, Christian Wade, Sam Smith, Will hurrell, Tom Homer.

2012 Squad (7th Place):

Dom Barrow,
Koree Britton,
Jack Clifford,
Luke Cowan-Dickie,
Max Crumpton,
Ross Harrison, Alec Hepburn, George Merrick,
Nathan Morris,
Ben Nutley, Kyle Sinckler,
David Sisi,
Sam Twomey,
Billy Vunipola,
Chris Walker.

Will Addison, 
Josh Bassett, 
Tommy Bell, 
Jamie Elliott,
Tom Heathcote, Sam Hill,
Ryan Mills,
Ben Ransom,
Dan Robson,
Henry Slade,
Ben Spencer,
Charlie Walker, Marland Yarde.

By Angus Savage

@AngusSavageXV

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