This weekend marks the start of the RBS 6 Nations, it also marks the start of the U20 RBS 6 Nations, with France v Italy, Ireland v Wales, and of course Scotland v England all taking place on Friday night. This will be the case throughout the championship, with the U20 schedule matching the senior one and being played on the eve of each RBS 6 Nations weekend.
Ahead of that vital Scotland v England fixture, we take a look at four players from each side who we think a worth keep an eye on – something you can do, by the way, by watching the game on either www.englandrugby.com or www.scottishrugby.org
England U20 – 4 to Watch
Joe Marchant – Outside Centre, Harlequins
Marchant is one of English rugby’s fastest rising stars. The former Peter Symonds’ College pupil, a place also responsible to nurturing none other than Mike Brown, has already appeared for the Harlequins 1st XV and scored a try for England U20 in last year’s 6 Nations that earned comparisons to Jonathon Joseph, it was not the first time.
Marchant skippered Harlequins in the Singha Premiership 7s this summer and has regularly appeared for London Scottish on dual registration. He has long been earmarked for success, having appeared for England U18, U19, and of course the U20s. He won the 2014 U18 European Championships with England, but unfortunately missed last year’s U20 World Championships through injury.
Joe Marchant is undoubtedly a player to watch throughout the tournament and beyond.
Mat Protheroe – Full Back, Gloucester
Protheroe spent the past two seasons as one of the hottest prospects in recent schools rugby memory, so much so that when Gloucester signed him ahead of this season, he was signed to a 1st XV contract, not an Academy contract, a rare and highly complimentary move.
Since then Protheroe has gone one to feature for Gloucester in the Singha Premiership 7s, the Aviva, and on one memorable occasion, for the 1st XV against the Barbarians.
Prior to that he was at Hartpury College, who he represented both in the AASE League and at National One level. The fly half, currently turning out at full back, spent his younger years in Wales, only moving to England for 6th form, but has since played for England U18, U19, and now for the U20s.
Jack Walker – Captain, Hooker, Yorkshire Carnegie
Such things are never certain, but Walker is as close to a certainty as a future England star as you can get.
The former Prince Henry’s Grammar School pupil has appeared for Yorkshire Carnegie thirty-eight times, but most remarkable of all was an appearance for them as captain, at just eighteen years of age.
He takes the captaincy reigns tomorrow against Scotland for the England U20 side, the latest in a long line of captaincy stints for the young hooker, who also captained England at U16 and U18 level, as well as appearing for England U17.
The statistics with Walker are just endlessly impressive. He signed a four year contract with Yorkshire Carnegie at the age of just sixteen and this is his third season with England U20 – he started for the 2014 Junior World Championship winning team, and last year’s finalists.
It would be no surprise to see him follow in the footsteps of his former, club, England U18, and England U20 teammate Paul Hill and find himself in a senior England shirt very soon indeed.
Archie White – Harlequins, Back Row
Archie White signed for Harlequins this summer after finishing his time at Epsom College, where he was a part of two of their most successful sides of recent times.
Despite only being in his first season in the Academy he has already made two 1st XV appearances, as well as being a hugely influential member of their Aviva A League side.
The versatile White will start at blindside flanker for England U20 on Friday night, but he can play across the back row as well as in the second row. White has appeared for England U16, U18, and now U20 and looks set to become a key force for Harlequins, and one day perhaps for England.
Scotland U20 – 4 to Watch
Adam Hastings – Fly Half, Bath
The name Hastings is hardly a new one in rugby circles, his father, Gavin is a Scotland legend and former captain, as well as a former British and Irish Lions captain, his uncle, Scott, is also a former Scotland and Lions legend. However Adam’s achievements so far demonstrate that he deserves to be recognised beyond just his surname.
A star at George Watson’s College, Hastings then moved to Millfield for 6th form, where he fast became a star in a side packed with talent, showcasing his skills at both fly half and inside centre and gaining Scottish recognition at both U18 and U19 level too.
Progress comes to the U20 side comes as no surprise after he signed for Bath in the summer, quickly settling to captain their Singha Premiership 7s side in August before going on to star for their Aviva A League side throughout the season. Hastings is certainly one to watch, and full honours will surely one day follow.
Blair Kinghorn – Full Back, Edinburgh
Kinghorn has spent his career on an accelerated path it seems. The Edinburgh full back, who has appeared eight times for the 1st XV, first played for Scotland U20 as an Under 18, an outstanding achievement.
Last year he appeared for both Scotland U18 and U20 in the same season, appearing for the U18 side in the spring before appearing for the U20 side at the World Rugby U20 World Championships.
He has appeared for every Scottish age-group side, and the former Edinburgh Academy schoolboy is now one of Edinburgh’s brightest prospects and surely also one of Scotland’s.
Robbie Nairn – Wing, Harlequins
Robbie Nairn finished his time at Currie Community High School this summer and was immediately snapped up by Harlequins. As statements of his promise go, that is a very big one, very few players move from school in Scotland straight to an Aviva Premiership club.
It should be no surprise with Nairn though, he has respresented Scotland at u16, U18, and U20 level, like Kinghorn above, he represented the U18 and U20 sides young, and carried that on by appearing for Harlequins in the Singha Premiership 7s within weeks of arriving at the club.
Since then he has gone on to be a force for them in the Aviva A League too, and looks set to carry on charging through the Harlequins and Scotland ranks.
Jamie Ritchie – Flanker, Edinburgh
Ritchie is one of Scottish rugby’s fastest rising stars. He could not join up with the U20 squad initially due to his commitments with Edinburgh, for whom he has nine appearances so far.
Ritchie is a product of Strathallan School, and has appeared for Scotland at U16, U18, and U20 level, a senior appearance will almost certainly one day arrive.
He first played for Scotland U20 at just seventeen, a remarkable achievement, he was a part of their 2014 Junior World Championship side at the time. Ritchie is definitely one to keep an eye on.
You can see the full line-ups for both England U20 and Scotland U20 here: U20 RBS 6 Nations team news, Scotland U20 v England U20.
Who are you expecting to go on to become stars from the England and Scotland U20 sides? Let us know what you think on @FifteenRugbyXV