The England U20 Elite Player Squad for the forthcoming season was announced yesterday, and naturally it included some very exciting young players who have dominated the school scene in recent years.
You can see the full squad here – England U20 Squad, however we have picked out five names that we think could really star for the England u20 side this year, and who may well go on to become senior England stars too.
Theo Brophy-Clews – London Irish (Abingdon) – Fly Half
Brophy-Clews was a star of the school scene for Abingdon, helping them to become a force on the schools rugby circuit. Two years with England U18 saw him rise to prominence, but it was last year where he really started to suggest that he would become a household name.
Brophy-Clews, whilst still a schoolboy remember, became London Irish’s youngest ever try scorer when he played in an LV= Cup game for them.
An excellent distributor and kicker, he also has a good running game and is definitely a man to watch.
Callum Chick – Newcastle Falcons (Gosforth Academy) – Number 8
Hastily given a contract by Newcastle Falcons whilst part of the AASE scheme at Gosforth Academy, Chick is a big no nonsense ball carrying number 8. He is capable of playing across the back row but those big carries from number 8 set him apart.
They are also part of what makes him a player with real leadership, and that leadership was rewarded last year with the England U18 captaincy. Of course that is no guarantee of success, but with his quality, plus the character required to be named character (and by this stage character is as important as anything when it comes to making it), he has certainly got to be a favourite to be a star going forward.
Joe Marchant – Harlequins (Peter Symonds’) – Outside Centre
Marchant was part of the U20 set up last year, playing a huge part in their successful 6 Natons campaign before injury denied him the chance to appear at the U20 World Championship.
It was a great shame for he is a centre with the quick feet and awareness that would have lit up the tournament, and perhaps could have made the difference for England.
His qualities have been rewarded with first team appearances for Harlequins, and he also led Quins in the Singha 7s this summer, showing not just how good he is but also what a strong character he is.
Mathew Protheroe – Gloucester (Hartpury College) – Fly Half/Full Back
Protheroe is probably one of the biggest stars to have come out of schools rugby for a very long time, or perhaps that should be brightest, for with his slight frame he is certainly not big, which only serves to highlight his other qualities.
He was wanted by just about every academy, agent, and even country that could get a hold of him. Protheroe came over to Hartpury for 6th form from Wales as a virtual unknown. As soon as he was on a field that all changed and Wales & England suddenly had a fight on their hands for him. At the moment he is England’s, but as Ross Moriarty has shown, much can change.
He is lightening quick, with dazzlingly fast feet and an eye for a break that few possess. If he remains grounded, he ought to be as close to a sure thing as there is.
Jack Walker – Yorkshire Carnegie (Prince Henry’s Grammar) – Hooker
Walker first appeared for England U20 as an U18 schoolboy. Not only did he appear for them, he appeared in the 2014 U20 World Championship final, which England won under Maro Itoje’s captaincy.
Walker has therefore been earmarked for success from a young age, and that was confirmed by his club when he was asked to captain Yorkshire Carnegie when still just 18. Now in his final year as an U20, Walker will likely be asked to replicate that leadership, something he will no doubt relish.
With the hooking berth a troublesome spot in this World Cup for England, it would be no surprise at all to see Walker start to challenge at senior level over the next few years.
Who do you think will be the England U20 stars who will go on to become Senior England stars? Let us know what you think on @FifteenRugbyXV