In last week’s Weekend Review we looked at the England U20 side that reached the 2008 IRB Junior World Championship final.
New Zealand won that inaugural U20 final, and it was a repeat in 2009 as New Zealand and England once again were the two finalists.
Again it was the same result, though a bit of a better game, with England managing to score a few points in this one, losing 44-28.
The New Zealand side contained some very exciting players, including Aaron Cruden at fly half, who captained the side, picked up the World Junior Player of the Year award, won a World Cup two years later and picked up another four years after that.
The side also included Zac Guildford on the wing and Robbie Robinson at full back, a talented player that never quite managed to show the full extent of that talent at senior level. The bench included Elliot Dixon, who has a fair few All Black caps to his name, as well as Samoa international and Northampton Saints star, Ken Pisi.
But what of the England team that day, what happened to all of them, and where are they now?
England U20 XV 2009 IRB Junior World Championship Final:
15 Tom Homer – Bath
Was at London Irish during the Championships and moved to Bath a couple of years ago after over 100 appearances for the Exiles. A monster of a boot and highly rated as a youngster but has never quite managed to make the jump to international rugby.
14 George Lowe – Retired
Lowe unfortunately retired this year due to injuries after an entire career at Harlequins. He was named in a few of Stuart Lancaster’s early England squads but was never capped. Injuries unfortunately perhaps robbed him of the chances he deserved.
13 Henry Trinder – Gloucester & England (non-cap)
Another whose career has been blighted by injury. Trinder has been one of the most exciting runners around of his generation, and seemed a part of Stuart Lancaster’s England plans. Played in a non-cap against the Barbarians, but injury seemed to strike every time a cap came near.
12 Luke Eves – Hartpury College
The ’09 final was Eves’ second, having been a part of the ‘o8 side. After a long spell at Bristol, Eves moved to Hartpury College, where he is now part of the side that is in its first ever season in the Greene King IPA Championship.
11 Charlie Sharples – Gloucester & England
Sharples’ electric pace was a threat at U20 level and has remained so throughout his career. He won a few caps for England under Stuart Lancaster but never managed to nail down the position, a Gloucester mainstay though.
10 Rory Clegg – Ealing Trailfinders & England Saxons
Clegg began his career with a bang, flying out of the traps for Newcastle and earning a move to Harlequins. Things stalled a little there though as he could not get past the great Nick Evans and he moved around a fair bit, eventually settling at Ealing Trailfinders this summer. Earned England Saxons caps back in 2011.
9 Ben Youngs – British & Irish Lions, Leicester Tigers, & England
His second final after being on the bench in 2008. Youngs was a part of the 2013 British and Irish Lions test winning squad in Australia, and was selected for the 2017 squad only to pull out to help care for his brother and his terminally ill wife. England’s number one scrum half now and one of the most experienced players in the team.
1 Ben Moon – Exeter Chiefs
Moon is one of a handful of players to have been with Exeter Chiefs right from their time in the Championship to becoming the Aviva Premiership champions last season. Never capped by England, but a key cog for the Chiefs.
2 Jamie George – British & Irish Lions, Saracens, & England
George had to bide his time before making his mark on the game, have to wait in the wings behind Schalk Brits and John Smit at Saracens, but once he got his chance, boy did he make an impact. Started all 3 test in the British & Irish Lions series draw in New Zealand this summer, and is putting real pressure on England captain Dylan Hartley for his starting England jersey.
3 Bob Baker – Retired
Baker played for Wasps until 2012, then going on to become an Oxford Blue. He now works in the city and contributes to City AM as a rugby writer.
4 Graham Kitchener – Leicester Tigers & England Saxons
2011 was the big year for Kitchener as he appeared for the England Saxons and moved to Leicester Tigers from Worcester, where he has now made of 100 appearances. Has been around the fringes of the England squad at times, and All Black legend Brad Thorn said that were he a Kiwi he would be a superstar.
5 James Gaskell – Wasps & England Saxons
Gaskell’s rise post-Championship was huge as he was named Sale Sharks’ captain at just 20 years of age. He later moved to Wasps, where he remains. Though his rise has not been quite as sharp since those early days, he is still a mainstay of the Wasps pack and has captained the England Saxons too.
6 Courtney Lawes – British & Irish Lions, Northampton Saints, & England
Part of a fearsome back row in these Championships, Lawes’ career has just moved up and up and up. Made his England debut later in 2009, and this year was a huge success story from the British & Irish Lions’ series draw in New Zealand. In a era of outstanding second rows/6s, he is among the very best.
7 Calum Clark (c) – Saracens & England
His second JWC final, this one was a little infamous for Clark as he was sent off for a headbutt. Injuries and that same lack of discipline have held the man once rated by Neil Back as England’s best prospect back a little but he is still a quality operator. Earned England caps in the 2015 World Cup build up, and could easily have more. Moved from Northampton to Saracens this summer and could turn out to be one of the best bits of business in the Premiership.
8 Carl Fearns – Lyon & England Saxons
Fearns is perhaps one of the most unlucky in this group not to be capped by England as his form at times has definitely warranted it. Moved from Sale to Bath in part to increase his England chances but when caps never seemed to appear he moved to Lyon, where he has consistently been among the Top 14’s best players. Pulled out of a move to Gloucester this summer, rumour has it in part because Eddie Jones said he would not be capping him.
16 James Clark – Blackheath
17 Shaun Knight – Bath & England Saxons
18 Dan Williams – Plymouth Albion
19 Josh Ovens – Rosslyn Park
20 Dave Lewis – Harlequins & England Saxons
21 Rob Miller – Wasps
22 Jack Cobden – CSM Bucuresti & Romania
Rob Miller has had a solid career and remains exciting, if limited in opportunities at the moment with Willie Le Roux occupying the 15 shirt at Wasps. Perhaps the most interesting tale is that of Jack Cobden, who moved from Leicester Tigers to CSM Bucuresti and has become Romanian qualified, earning his first caps last year.
Shaun Knight, now at Bath, and Dave Lewis, who moved to Quins this summer, both have England Saxons caps. James Clark, Dan Williams, and Josh Ovens have dropped down the leagues, Clark at Blackheath, Williams at Plymouth Albion, and Ovens at Rosslyn Park, where they all face each other in National League One.
If you have any tales from U20 XVs of the past then do get in touch and let us know! Next time we will take a look at a crop from 2010.