rugby They were voted the best player in the U20 world, but have they all broken through at the highest level?

Montpellier’s South African Jean Serfontein and England’s George Ford were both voted as the U20 World Player of the Year and are enjoying successful careers. (© Icon Sports)

His talent quickly exploded in the eyes of the oval planet. Among the under-20s, a category launched in 2008 (previously there were the under-19s and under-21s), they burst onto the screen and were awarded the trophy for the best young player in the world by World Rugby. But have they all made a career? Have they lived up to the expectations that were there? Overview

They followed up with a great run

Chosen in 2009 barely a year after beating testicular cancer, the fly half Aaron Cruden took advantage of Daniel Carter’s injury midway through the 2011 World Cup to join the New Zealand squad and lift the World Cup trophy. If he was called up on 50 occasions, it was difficult for him to get out of the role of substitute for master Carter, but his career is no less beautiful, with 4 rugby champions won, and a top 14 final contested with Montpellier (losing against Castres in 2018).

Powerful winger of Samoan origin, Julian Savea wreaked havoc in the black jersey with the silver fern between 2012 and 2017, scoring a whopping 46 tries in 54 caps (2nd all-time All Blacks try-scorer, tied with Cullen and Rokocoko). World champion in 2015, tries the adventure in Toulon in 2018, and ultimately turns out to be a failure. Now, at 32, he plays for the Hurricanes.

He was also world champion among the “greats”: Handre Pollard. Having featured in 3 U20 World Cups (2012, 2013 and 2014) and winning the 2012 one (3rd in 2013, runner-up in 2014), he eased into the Springboks, making his debut in June 2014, and lifting the 2019 the Webb. Ellis Trophy. A real metronome against the posts, he entered the Top 14 and Montpellier, where he was the highest paid player in the world. Pollard completed his trophy cabinet with a French championship title and a Challenge Cup.

In this category, we can add the English opener george ford, 81 games with the Rose XV shirt, and 3 6 Nations Tournaments (Grand Slam 2016). In club, he lifted, with the Leicester Tigers, the title of champion of England on 3 occasions. Winner in 2013, the South African Jan Serfontein he was retained 35 times by the Springboks, and the solid centre-back last June with Montpellier, alongside his friend Handré Pollard, the Brennus shield, a year after the Challenge Cup.

It was never international

He is the first to have obtained the distinction of the best player in the U20 world, and to this day he is the only one who has never known the joys of an international layer. Captain of the Baby Blacks world champion in 2008, Luke Braid is seen as one of the most promising elements of the country in the position of 3e line Problem: He fell at the worst of times, with outstanding competition from Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Liam Messam or Victor Vito. The All Blacks shirt, he’s never seen it.

Luke Braid, who played for 4 seasons at Bordeaux-Bègles, never experienced the joys of his selection.
Luke Braid, who played for 4 seasons at Bordeaux-Bègles, never experienced the joys of his selection. (© Icon Sports)

However, during his debut in the Super Rugby, he confirmed all his potential with excellent matches played with the provinces of Chiefs and Blues. His future in the national team blocked, and looking for a new challenge, he landed in Bordeaux-Bègles, playing there for 4 years. His arrival at Gironde was a success, but the club fell after two seasons due to numerous injuries. He returned to the country in January 2019. We saw him again recently in May 2022 with the Classic All Blacks against Spain.

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His record is mixed

In 2013, the inauguration Sam Davies take advantage of the excellent run of Wales, finalists of the U-20 World Cup, to claim the title. The result was honest, but nevertheless very modest for an element considered very promising and a distinction as the best player in the world U20.

Son of Welsh international Nigel Davies (29 caps), he played for the Welsh Ospreys, then the Dragons, but failed to win a major title. In 2016, he discovered the joys of the national team with the Leek XV following a call-up by Warren Gatland, who lined him up 3 times during the 2017 6 Nations Tournament (3 times as a substitute). During the 2017 summer tour, they won their first two outings, against Tonga and Samoa. His last two appearances for Wales. In short, mixed results…

Best player in the world U20 World Rugby: The full list

2008. Luke Braid (New Zealand)
2009. Aaron Cruden (New Zealand)
2010. Julian Savea (New Zealand)
2011. George Ford (England)
2012. Jan Serfontein (South Africa)
2013. Sam Davies (Wales)
2014. Handré Pollard (South Africa)

In 2015, formula change

In 2015, world rugby’s governing body revised its plans and developed the concept of the “World Rugby Breakout of the Year”. However, at the end of the U-20 World Cup, a World Rugby U-20 Player of the Year trophy is awarded to the player who has distinguished himself the most during the competition.

The best players of the U-20 World Cup were named: The complete list

2015. James Chisholm (England)
2016. Max Deegan (Ireland)
2017. Juarno Augustus (South Africa)
2018. Jordan Joseph (France)
2019. Juan Pablo Castro (Argentina).

Among them, we find a Frenchman, in the person of Jordan Josephdouble champion of the U20 world and summoned to a group expanded by the coach of the XV of France, Fabien Galthié. James Chisholmhe, third line of his state, defends the colors of Harlequins, and at 26 years old, he has never been called up for the XV de la Rosa. Juarno Augustusa true South African bulldozer, he left his country for England in the summer of 2021, and was one of the revelations of the season, playing 26 games and scoring 8 tries (he’s 3rd line).

Quick, agile and efficient on the ball, playing in the 3rd line within the Leinster machine, Max Deegan he is the only one on this list to have been international: once, in 2020, against Wales, with Ireland.

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