The 10 Welsh rugby stars of the future about to announce themselves in the U20 Six Nations
While the main focus is on the senior Championship, there’s also a junior Six Nations about to unfold, with the stars of the future on show. Wales U20s coach Gareth Williams has picked an exciting looking 33-man squad, which includes a number of players who have had first team experience with the regions or clubs in England. There’s a sizeable contingent still on board from last year’s group, along with graduates from the Wales U18s squad.
Rugby correspondent Simon Thomas picks out ten young guns to watch out for over the next couple of months. Jac Morgan The captain of the squad and a young man who has already made his mark at first-team level with the Scarlets.
Just turned 20, this back rower from Brynamman made a big impact at the Junior World Championship in Argentina last summer with his powerful carrying from No 8. He’s also very effective over the ball, as he demonstrated when packing down on the openside flank against Bayonne in the Challenge Cup last month, and he’s a hard tackler too. Scarlets coach Brad Mooar is a fan. “Remember the name because it’s going to be popping up more and more,” said the Kiwi. “He’s an outstanding young prospect and it looks like he has been doing it all his life.”
Sam Costelow Has been in the news recently, with the Scarlets signing him up on a two-year deal from Leicester, and he’s likely to be a key figure for Wales during this Six Nations campaign. A product of Pencoed RFC, he’s a will-o-the-wisp, jinking fly-half, who is also able to slot into the centre if required.
A big talent with a big future. Dan John One of only two members of the squad – along with Cardiff Met scrum-half Ellis Bevan – who’s not listed with a professional team, as he is still studying at Millfield School.
But he’ll have them knocking at his door pretty soon if he keeps performing like he did for Wales U19s against Scotland at Ystrad Mynach last month. His father Paul, the former Pontypridd and Wales scrum-half, was on hand to see him take a starring role with his pacy entries into the line from full-back, having flown in from Hong Kong, where he coaches the national Sevens side.
Aneurin Owen There are high hopes for the 19-year-old centre.
Started out as a 10 with Newport High School Old Boys, before being converted to a 12 by the Dragons and you can see his fly-half background coming through with his decision-making, his kicking and his ability to put people into space. Has gained Premiership experience with Ebbw Vale and also appeared for the Dragons A team in the Celtic Cup. Acquired the nickname NHS while with the Steelmen, thanks to his Christian name!
Dafydd Buckland Grabbed his chance when opportunity knocked last year amid injuries and illness to other scrum-halves and ended up playing in nine of the U20s ten matches. That experience and durability will stand him in good stead as he looks to continue his good work now.
Born in Cardiff, he’s on the books of the Dragons.
Scrum-half Dafydd Buckland gets to grips with New Zealand’s Samipeni Finau during Wales’ famous win over the Baby Blacks at last year’s World U20s Championship (Image: Getty Images)
Ben Warren Began his rugby journey with Ystrad Rhondda as a No 8 before moving to tighthead prop. Was part of a strong Rhondda Schools side, going on to link up with the Cardiff Blues Academy.
Has represented Wales at U16s, U18s, U19s and now U20s, being pretty much ever-present for the latter side during 2019. Ioan Lloyd Hit the headlines in the autumn with a couple of try-scoring cameos as a back-three sub for the Bristol first team.
The west country club recognised the young Cardiffian’s huge talent by signing him up on a four-year deal at the age of 17. Has been named in the U20s squad as a fly-half, which is where he shone for Wales U18s last year with his pace and elusive running. His availability during the Championship may be limited due to club commitments with Bristol.
Jac Price A chunky, tight-head second row in the Jake Ball mould. Hard-working and puts himself about.
Having come through the junior ranks with Carmarthen Quins, he was a regular for the Scarlets A-team in the Celtic Cup this term, having been part of the Wales side that beat New Zealand at the U20s World Championship last summer. A talented sportsman, he has represented his country in golf at junior level. Ioan Davies
Not to be confused with the full-back of the same name who is also on the books of Cardiff Blues and played for Wales U20s last year. This Ioan Davies is a back rower from Merthyr Tydfil with a big work-rate. Osian Knott
Tall and rangy, the Scarlets centre from Carmarthen is a strong carrier who can truck it up – utilising his 6ft 2ins, 16st 2lbs frame – and has also developed his all-round game.
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WALES U20s SIX NATIONS SQUAD Full-backs/Wings:
Dan John (Millfield School), Josh Thomas (Ospreys), Ewan Rosser (Dragons), Callum Williams (Scarlets), Harri Doel (Scarlets) Centres: Bradley Roderick (Ospreys), Aneurin Owen (Dragons), Osian Knott (Scarlets)
Fly-halves: Sam Costelow (Leicester), Luke Scully (Worcester), Jacob Beetham (Cardiff Blues), Ioan Lloyd (Bristol) Scrum-halves:
Ellis Bevan (Cardiff Met), Dafydd Buckland (Dragons)
Props: Theo Bevacqua (Cardiff Blues), Ben Warren (Cardiff Blues), Callum Williams (Scarlets), Archie Griffin (Bath), Harri O Connor (Scarlets), Dylan Bartlett (Dragons) Hookers:
Dom Booth (Scarlets), Will Griffiths (Dragons), Brodie Coghlan (Dragons) Second Row: James Fender (Ospreys), Rhys Thomas (Ospreys), Ben Carter (Dragons), Jac Price (Scarlets)
Back row: Travis Huntley (Ospreys), Morgan Strong (Ospreys), Gwilym Bradley (Cardiff Blues), Ioan Davies (Cardiff Blues), Jac Morgan (Scarlets, capt), Benji Hoppe (Dragons) FIXTURES
Friday, Jan 31: Wales v Italy (Stadiwm Zip World, Colwyn Bay, 7.35pm, ) Friday, Feb 7: Ireland v Wales (Irish Independent Park, Cork, 7.15pm) Friday, Feb 21: Wales v France (Stadiwm Zip World, Colwyn Bay, 7.35pm)
Friday, March 6: England v Wales (Kingsholm, Gloucester, 7.45pm)
Friday, Feb 13: Wales v Scotland (Stadiwm Zip World, Colwyn Bay, 7.35pm)
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