Dan Robson – Teams: Gloucester – Age: 21 – Positions: Scrum Half/Fly Half
An exciting Scrum Half come Fly Half, Dan Robson has been given extra time on the pitch this year as a result of the injury to New Zealand World Cup winner Jimmy Cowan. Robson, arguably, has played the better rugby of the two scrum halfs, with his consistent delivery and lengthy touch finders Nigel Davies has been confident enough to throw him into the high profile games. Robson is another graduate of the England U20’s side that challenge yearly for the Junior World Cup, unfortunately for him, he was not around for the triumph this last summer, but was a part of the side that appeared in the Final two years ago. With Ben Youngs, Danny Care and Lee Dickson challenging for the number one slot for England’s senior side, and Richard Wigglesworth and Joe Simpson fighting it out for the Saxons starting birth, England has a huge wealth of talent and pragmatism in the Scrum Half Position. Robson’s aim for this next year should be to break his way into the Saxons squad, and to make sure that he is one of the first names Nigel Davies puts down on the team sheet every week.
Ben Ransom – Team: Saracens – Age: 21 – Positions: Fullback/Wing
Ben Ransom is young man with special talent, since his breakthrough into the first team squad at Saracens in 2012 Ransom has been making a huge impression on his team mates and the fans who come to watch the games every week. With blistering pace and Jason Robinson-esque step, Ransom has been earmarked by his coaches to reach the top of the English game. Another player who has sharpened his tools coming through the English age group system Ransom has grown accustomed to wearing the Rose on his chest. With other young players being given the opportunity to impress under Stuart Lancaster, Ransom’s next aim will be to work his way into the Saxons squad for the next season and continue to put pressure on his teammates at Saracens.
Dave Sisi – Team: Bath – Age: 20 – Position: Blindside Flanker/Number Eight
Dave Sisi broke into the London Irish first team squad in the 2011/2012 season, with his considerable frame weighing in at 266lb he is not a flanker based on the lightweight Tom Croft mould, but rather out of the Nick Easter handbook. His deceptive pace allows Sisi to get around the pitch and his ball carrying ability gave Irish the feel of having two number Eights on the pitch. Winning both the Six Nations title and the Junior World Cup in 2012 with the England U20 team, he attracted interest from a Bath team looking to snatch up the best in English talent. He is yet to make his debut for Bath because of an injury sustained in pre-season, when he does finally step on to the field at the Rec, he will hope he can make the same impact as the other new signings for Bath.
Kyle Sinckler – Harlequins – Age: 20 – Position: Prop
Kyle Sinckler although playing in one of the less heralded positions on the rugby pitch, is perhaps one of the more important players on this list. With the new scrum laws fully in effect, the impact a quality prop can have on the game is huge, especially with upwards of 10 minutes per game being spent focusing on their scrummaging ability. Sinckler has been an impact bench player for Harlequins since the 2011/2012 season, with his barnstorming runs reminiscent of a young Phil Vickery or more relevant because of his place at Harlequins, Joe Marler. With England’s front row resources not quite as deep as they would like as time rolls on towards the 2015 World Cup, if Sinckler can get more starting time on the pitch for Harlequins a potential squad role could await him.
Elliot Daly – Teams: London Wasps/England Saxons – Age: 21 – Positions: Fullback/Wing/Outside Centre
Elliot Daly has proved crucial to the Wasps team over the last two years, with his versatility aiding in him being game extensive game time. With his electric feet and deceptive pace Daly has already achieved a reputation in the Aviva Premiership as one of the best finishers in the league. His rise has seen him called up to the England Saxons squad for the two SIx Nations game they had last season, and further than that Dai Young his coach at Wasps, called Daly up to the Barbarians squad for their touring games against England, Ireland, and the British and Irish Lions. This experience has seen Daly push his game to the next level, with London Wasps needing their best players to come to the fore as they struggle to close the gap between themselves and the top clubs.
- London Wasps 15 Northampton Saints 17: match report (telegraph.co.uk)
- Matt Dawson Column: Big Heineken Cup weekend can provide clues to England’s Six Nations scrum-half (mirror.co.uk)
- Mike Phillips signs for Racing Metro: Wales scrum-half joins Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate in Paris (walesonline.co.uk)
- Leicester Tigers and Manchester United in the same boat says scrum half Ben Youngs (mirror.co.uk)
Jack Nowell – Teams: Exeter Chiefs/England Saxons – Age 20 – Position: Fullback/Wing
Jack Nowell is a mercurial talent who has risen up the ranks at Exeter Chiefs since graduating from their academy in 2010. His lightening sidestep and fearless style of play has seen him progress from the England U18s and U20s age groups and into the Saxons squad. Many pundits are predicting a senior debut for Nowell in the 2014 Six Nations as England look for a new set of finishing wingers after a number of injuries have ruled out probable starters. Coming up against Nowell in their Heineken Cup clash two weeks ago, Bryan Habana labelled Nowell one to watch for the future, is there a higher praise for any young winger looking to make their way in the game?
Matt Kvesic – Teams: Gloucester/England – Caps 2 – Age 21 – Position: Openside Flanker/Number Eight
Matt Kvesic made his debut for the full England side in their whitewash of Argentina this last summer. During the first test in Salta Kvesic made a unbelievable 29 tackles, and carried the ball numerous time throughout the game to impress all who watched. A classic ‘number 7’ Kvesic has based his style of play around that of his idol Richie McCaw. His fetching skills were there for all to see in the uncapped game England played against the Barbarians, where Kvesic stole the ball within the first 7 seconds to set up a try for Freddie Burns. If Kvesic can re-find this sort of form he should take his place in the Six Nations squad and put pressure on Chris Robshaw for that crucial number 7 shirt.
Anthony Watson – Team: Bath – Age 19 – Position: Fullback/Wing
Watson rise this season has been nothing short of meteoric. Playing his rugby last season at London Irish, Watson played a crucial part in England U20’s World Cup triumph and as a result was picked up by Bath rugby on the advice of Neal Hatley and Toby Booth who had both previously coached the player. Stuart Lancaster, as he has done in the past with talented young players, has included Watson in Englands training camps. Although not officially in the squad, it provide Watson with the opportunity to sample the professional rugby environment at the highest level and gives Lancaster time to view the players potential close up. With spaces opening up on the England wings, the England coaches cannot look too much further than the Bath flyer for the Six Nations squad.
George Ford – Teams: Bath/England Saxons – Age 20 – Position: Fly Half
It seems inappropriate to put Ford in an article about young players for the future when he has seemingly been around for so long, but we must remember that he is still the tender age of 20. Having made his debut in the Premiership for Leicester at the age of 16 Ford has been prepared for the highest level from a young age. Having secured a move away from Leicester to join his father at Bath Rugby, Ford has been giving the reigns to control the Bath back line for the foreseeable future. Topping the Premiership scoring table this season with 117 points currently, and having expanded his repertoire of kicks and passes, the question being asked by many fans and pundits is when will he be given his chance for England? With Owen Farrell currently the man in possession of the number 10 jersey and rightly so, it seems that Ford could be fighting it out with Flood and Burns for a spot on the bench. And with Burns admitting to being distracted by news of a potential move to Leicester, and Flood all but signed a contract to move to France, it seems that Ford could be the ideal player to give something different off the bench from the pragmatic Farrell.
Jack Clifford – Team: Harlequins – Age 20 – Position: Number Eight
Jack Clifford is the enigmatic leader of the England U20’s team that claimed the first Junior World Cup for a Northern Hemisphere nation in the summer. For the last two seasons Clifford has been dual-registered with Ealing Trailfinders who play their rugby in the second division of English rugby. The big question surrounding Clifford’s future is that now that he has moved on from the U20s, can he establish himself in a Harlequins back row that has already had to move Nick Easter into the Second-Row to accommodate the young talent coming through such as Luke Wallace. Will Clifford have to follow the example of George Ford and move to a team where he will be guaranteed game time every week. For the sake of his development, I believe he should.
- Stuart Lancaster’s emerging talents can give England the X-factor (telegraph.co.uk)
- Bruce Craig and Mike Ford making a success of running red-hot Bath (theguardian.com)
- Lewis Moody tipping old club Bath to break trophy drought in LV=Cup (metro.co.uk)
- Exeter’s Jack Nowell closes on England place after smart burst of form (theguardian.com)
Born: March 24, 1986, Rotorua, New Zealand
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Dylan Hartley is a New Zealand born, English qualified Hooker currently playing for Northampton Saints. Since moving to England in 2002 Dylan Hartley has had an uncomfortable journey to the top of the England ladder for his chosen position. While playing for Northampton in 2007, Hartley was cited for eye gouging both James Haskell and Jonny O’Connor of Wasps in the same game, and was subsequently given a 26 week ban. Hartley since that time has received 3 more bans, 8 weeks for biting Stephen Ferris in the Six Nations, 2 weeks for punching Rory Best of Ulster, and most recently 11 weeks for abusing match official Wayne Barnes in the Aviva Premiership final last season.
As consistent as his wrong doings have been, the consistency of his performances on the pitch has led to him becoming one of England’s most capped forwards with 43 caps, and a proven leader for both club and Country. The 2013 international season has seen Hartley lose his starting to place to the effervescent Tom Youngs who has produced barn-storming performances for Leicester Tigers and the Lions all season. This pressure has led to Hartley putting in some of the best performances of his career with a true highlight the Saints win at the Aviva stadium against Leinster. The true test for Hartley will be to win back his starting place for the Six Nations and to keep it and ensure that he is ready to help England with their assault on the Rugby World Cup in 2015.
- England hooker Dylan Hartley to miss Lions tour after 11-week ban (walesonline.co.uk)
- Dylan Hartley: I’ve had a lot of time to think and this is my last chance (independent.co.uk)
- Lions hero John Taylor says Dylan Hartley could not be trusted (walesonline.co.uk)
- Dylan Hartley and Ben Youngs play for high stakes (thetimes.co.uk)
Sale Sharks used their considerable bulk to push themselves past the London Irish team at a rain drenched AJ Bell stadium on Friday Evening. Two first half tries, one scored opportunistically by Tom Brady after a Danny Cipriani cross field kick off of his weaker foot, and a David Seymour push over try, ensured that London Irish with the destructive winds at their back in the second half did not take the points.
London Irish as a club were boosted after the takeover lead by Irish businessman Mike Crossan allowed them the financial ability to sign experienced international CJ Van Der Linde. Unfortunately Van Der Linde could not take to the field because of a pulled Calf on the Captains run. London Irish could definitely have used his considerable bulk in the scrums and lineouts.
Cipriani, buoyed by the appearance of Stuart Lancaster in the stands, created the first score of the game when scrappy ball was flicked back to him while in the London Irish 22. Cipriani audaciously kicked across field with his weaker right foot, and the ball wickedly bounced over the waiting O’Connors head and into the arms of the onrushing Tom Brady who gladly walked the ball under the past.
With Sales scrum and lineout mauling creating multiple opportunities for Cirpriani to increase the lead, without any points to show for it, a push over score seemed inevitable when a lineout drive in London Irish’s 22 picked up pace on its way towards the try line and Seymour crossed for what was an unconverted score.
A yellow card was handed out to Chris Hala’ufia for a ‘Tana Umaga type’ spear tackle on a Sharks player. This further damaged the London teams ability to get good quick ball to their dangerous backs and put the final nail into their coffin. Three losses in a row for the Irish leaves them in 11th place, 10 points above the bottom placed Worcester side.
- Sale Sharks 15 London Irish 3: Rugby Union match report (manchestereveningnews.co.uk)
- Delaney calls on London Irish pack to turn up the heat on Stade Francais (getreading.co.uk)
- Sale ease past winless Worcester (standard.co.uk)
12 – points London Irish have accumulated.
11 – tries conceded by Northampton Saints.
10 – Gloucester’s league position.
9 – Worcester Warriors’ tries scored.
8 – Leicester Tigers’ points behind 1st position.
7 – London Wasps league position.
6 – Premiership’s top try scorer, Saracens Dave Strettle’s total.
5 – Games Exeter have won.
4 – Harlequins league position.
3 – Newcastle’s tries scored.
2 – Sale Sharks Premiership home losses.
1 – Bath DOR left this season.