The nine U20 Six Nations stars destined for greatness, including the next Michael Hooper

Colin Newboult
Patrick Tuifua (France), Henry Pollock (England) and Hugh Gavin (Ireland).

Patrick Tuifua (France), Henry Pollock (England) and Hugh Gavin (Ireland).

It has been another incredible U20 Six Nations with plenty of future stars on show throughout the tournament.

A long list of world-class players have featured in this tournament in the past, and we delve into who are the next in line to reach that level over the coming few years.

Theo Attissogbe (France)

Difficult to assess France on an individual basis, given the continual changes during the competition, but there is no doubt that Attissogbe made a significant impression on his only appearance. The back three player has already enjoyed a stunning campaign for a Pau side going well in the Top 14 and he brought that form into the U20 Six Nations finale. He had a bad start, dropping the ball to allow England’s Ben Redshaw to score, but the wing made up for that with a superb individual display. Attissogbe set up the try of the tournament with a brilliant piece of skill and was a threat every time he got the ball.

Freddy Douglas (Scotland)

Scotland’s development system has been quite frankly dreadful over recent years. Let’s be honest, they’ve been reliant on finding players from elsewhere to make themselves competitive at senior level, but there is much more promise with this current crop. In openside Douglas, they look like they’ve found a real gem. Small in stature but incredibly strong at close quarters, the flanker was an absolute menace at the breakdown all tournament. Just 18, he has a big future ahead of him.

Marcos Gallorini (Italy)

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the tighthead is in the main Italian squad within a couple of years, given his dominance at this level. Had a fun battle with Asher Opoku-Fordjour (more on him later) in the first game, which the Englishman just about edged, but then had every other loosehead on toast. Gallorini was the difference in Italy’s landmark victory over France as he regularly sent the opposition looseheads into reverse. Will be fun to see how he develops going forward.

Hugh Gavin (Ireland)

Played mostly on the wing for the U20s last year but moved to 12 for the 2024 U20 Six Nations and was probably even more influential. Gavin is incredibly physical and has the frame for the modern day inside centre, but he also has the skills. The Connacht youngster has a lovely passing game while he is equally a threat in the tackle, often getting his hands free and finding his supporting runners. With Ireland‘s first choice centres around or over 30, he could be an option to Andy Farrell sooner rather than later.

Morgan Morse (Wales)

The number eight has already shone for the Ospreys this season and that class showed in Wales’ campaign. Although they struggled, Morse was a consistent shining light through his ball carrying and skill set. He only turned 19 in January but he will get plenty more game time over the course of the season and could force his way into the main squad. Warren Gatland has stated that he is looking to the future with his squad selection and Morse very much is the future.

Asher Opoku-Fordjour (England)

Is he a loosehead or a tighthead? Well, it doesn’t seem to matter as Opoku-Fordjour has tended to dominate whoever he has come up against. His club, Sale Sharks, think his future is at number three and in that position he has enjoyed success against the likes of Andrew Porter and Mako Vunipola, but England have a different opinion. As a result, he has lined up at loosehead and the result has very much been the same. From the first game to the last, he got the better of his opposition tighthead and was especially influential against Wales, Italy and Scotland.

Henry Pollock (England)

The hype over this openside flanker started before the Six Nations but he justified it with his displays during the competition. Pollock has been compared to Wallabies legend Michael Hooper and it is easy to see why. There are social media clips of him easily outpacing backs and that speed has been on show throughout the past few weeks. He started with a hat-trick in the opener and scored a crucial try in the final match against France as the English youngsters won the title.

Marco Scalabrin (Italy)

The Azzurri managed two wins this year, but it didn’t really do justice to the talent they had in the squad. In particular, they found an exciting wing in the form of Scalabrin. As we already mentioned, Gallorini was the primary factor in their victory over France, but the wing almost did the same against Ireland. He finished with two tries and an assist in that narrow defeat before following it up with a try apiece in the games against Scotland and the French. Blessed with pace, power and a tremendous skill set, Scalabrin is going to be some player if his work ethic matches his talent at senior level.

Patrick Tuifua (France)

This back-row finds himself in an interesting situation. Eligible for both France and the All Blacks, Tuifua currently plays his rugby in New Zealand but he was called up by Les Bleuets. However, a deal was struck where he would turn out for the opening two French matches before heading back to the southern hemisphere and playing for the Hurricanes’ age-grade side. No doubt a battle is already underway for his services given his impressive displays in the U20 Six Nations. Powerful in the carry and good at the breakdown, with a work ethic to match, he has a bright future.

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