Tuesday 22 October 2019

Rugby World Cup: 20 under 25 - Who are the youngsters looking to set the tournament on fire?

James Ryan during the Ireland Rugby squad announcement, ahead of their opening Pool A game against Scotland, at the Yokohama Bay Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Yokohama, Japan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
James Ryan during the Ireland Rugby squad announcement, ahead of their opening Pool A game against Scotland, at the Yokohama Bay Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Yokohama, Japan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Des Berry

These are 20 men Under 25 which are most likely to move from national to international heroes in the weeks ahead.

JAMES RYAN, 23.

Country: Ireland; Club: Leinster; Caps: 19.

A personal clean sweep in claiming the Ireland’s Players’ Player and Rugby Writers’ Player of the Year awards reflect his awesome consistency.

ANTOINE DUPONT, 22.

Country: France; Club: Toulouse; Caps: 17.

The scrum-half looks every inch ‘Le Petit General,’ thriving in the heat of battle when so many of his compatriots can be found wanting.

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Toulouse's Antoine Dupont

RIEKO IOANE, 22.

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Country: New Zealand; Club: Blues; Caps: 26.

The fastest man in the All Blacks squad, twice nominated for World Player of the Year (2017 & 2018), has accumulated a stunning 23 tries from a meagre cap total.

MARO ITOJE, 24.

Country: England; Club: Saracens; Caps: 30.

If anyone were to design the complete, modern second row, the Saracen is as close as you can get as a power athlete with uncommon agility. 

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Maro Itoje

ALIVERETI RAKA, 22.  

Country: France; Club: Clermont-Auvergne; Caps: 2.

The Fijian-born wing is a scoring sensation, notching up 35 tries in 52 Top-14 appearances and one try from two French caps.

TANIELA TUPOU, 23.

Country: Australia; Club: Queensland Reds; Caps: 15.

‘Tongan Thor’ turned down the advances of New Zealand Super Rugby franchises to follow his brother to Australia where he has put his 300lbs frame to work.

JACOB STOCKDALE, 23.

Country: Ireland; Club: Ulster; Caps: 21.

The quintessential natural finisher has already racked up 16 tries in 21 appearances as well as the 2018 Six Nations Player of the Championship.

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Jacob Stockdale. Photo: Sportsfile

GURAM GOGICHASHVILI, 21.

Country: Georgia; Club: Racing 92; Caps: 6.

No Georgian campaign would be complete without one of those monsters that can dismantle a scrum, the youngster showing brute force in the Top-14. 

SEVU REECE, 22.

Country: New Zealand; Club: Crusaders; Caps: 3.

The bolter topped the Super Rugby try-chart this season with 15, winning Steve Hansen’s confidence to register two tries in black. 

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Sevu Reece

RUDOLPH (RG) SNYMAN, 24.

Country: South Africa; Club: Blue Bulls; Caps: 16.

There is a good reason why the likes of Jean Kleyn leave home, the Springbok lock quartet of Eben Etsebeth, Lood de Jager, Franco Mostert and Snyman ranking as the best in Japan. 

DEMBA BAMBA, 21. 

Country: France; Club: Lyon; Caps: 6.

The 125 kilos (191/2stones) tight-head prop made his international debut for France at 20 as reward for his offloading gifts and explosive carrying.

HERSCHEL JANTJES, 23.

Country: South Africa; Club: Stormers; Caps: 4.

The scrum-half exploded into the international arena with a brace of tries against Australia on his debut, applying unexpected pressure to Faf de Klerk.

MATTEO MINOZZI, 23.

Country: Italy; Club: Wasps; Caps: 11.

The gifted attacker was nominated for 2018 Six Nations Player of the Year and will ply his trade for Wasps in the Premiership after the World Cup.  

JOE COKANASIGA, 21.

Country: England; Club: Bath; Caps: 8.

The beastly 6’4,” 120kilos (19stones) measurements of the Fijian-born wing have been good for five tries in eight appearances, two of them from that rout of Ireland.   

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Joe Cokanasiga. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

GELA APRASIDZE, 21.    

Country: Georgia; Club: Montpellier; Caps: 17.

The scrum-half has been earmarked for the grand stage since scorching Ireland at the 2017 U20 World Cup and should benefit from a muscular scrum.  

GARRY RINGROSE, 24.

Country: Ireland; Club: Leinster; Caps: 24.

The classy centre enters the World Cup with questions over his form. There is no better time or place to show his true value as a genuine thirteen.   

JORDIE BARRETT, 22.

Country: New Zealand; Club: Hurricanes; Caps: 12.

The highly-skilled 6’5” younger brother to Beauden, and Scott, is a versatile ball player, equally at home in the centre or full-back.

IZACK RODDA, 23.

Country: Australia; Club: Queensland Reds; Caps: 21.

The do-it-all lock with the right attitude turned out for the Reds one day after his father passed away back in May.

TOM CURRY, 21.

Country: England; Club: Sale Sharks; Caps: 13.

Eddie Jones decision to mimic the Australian trend for two natural opensides in the back row couldn’t have come at a better time for groundhog with A-Grade aggression.

BLAIR KINGHORN, 22.

Country: Scotland; Club: Edinburgh; Caps: 15.

This tall, elegant full-back might have to make his way in on the wing to show the varied skill set that makes him a threat.

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Blair Kinghorn. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

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