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England Under 20: Five who impressed

19 March 2012

  • We look at five of England Under 20's top performers
  • Watson, Clifford, Cowan-Dickie, Walker and Robson in focus
England celebrate their Six Nations win

Photo: Getty Images

With the Under 20 Six Nations campaign done and dusted for another year, England have once again been crowned champions for the third time in five years.

Rob Hunter’s men won four of their five matches, ending with a points difference of plus 129 and conceding just one try throughout the competition.

Wing Marland Yarde ended the competition as top try scorer, with five, as England dotted the ball down 25 times, more than twice as many as second place France.

In a side littered with talent from loosehead through to full back, we’ve picked five players who performed each time they wore the rose.

Anthony Watson (London Irish)

England wing Anthony Watson

Photo: Getty Images

Four tries in five Six Nations games provided proof, if needed, that Anthony is a clinical and classy finisher. It didn’t take long for him to announce himself on the 20s scene either –  coming on as a 54th minute replacement against Scotland, the London Irish back had scored by the time the clock ticked 55.

Pace and a lethal step are his most notable characteristics, but firm in the tackle and a strong tactical awareness are also key attributes of Anthony’s game. Equally comfortable on the wing or at full back, the 18-year-old could have summer to remember if selected to play in the Junior World Championship in June.

Jack Clifford (Harlequins)

England No. 8 Jack CLifford

Photo: Getty Images

Part of a back row combination oozing experience, Jack has slotted in with ease at No. 8. With Matt Kvesic at No. 6 and skipper Chris Walker mopping up at No. 7, 19-year-old Clifford has shone in this season’s Six Nations.

Not shy on the attack, Jack scored twice in the opener against Scotland, and his knack for a line-break has put England on the front-foot on more than one occasion. But the 100kg Quins man is not one for shirking a tackle either – an all rounder with a promising future.  

Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)

England prop Luke Cowan-Dickie

Photo: Getty Images

Truro-born Luke struck up a strong front row partnership with hooker Koree Britton and tighthead Kyle Sinckler over the course of the Six Nations. Bar a tough evening away against France, the young trio revelled in the pack – helping the side to penalty try in the opening game against Scotland.

The 18-year-old also scored a try of his own against Wales and his infectious determination and carrying skills will stand the 17-stone prop in good stead. Luke first appeared for the Under 20s in last season’s 74-3 win against Italy, and the experience certainly did him no harm coming into this season’s competition.

Charlie Walker (Harlequins)

England wing Charlie Walker

Photo: Getty Images

A virtuoso man-of-the-match performance at his home ground, The Stoop, against Wales provided Charlie the platform to make an Under 20 starting jersey his own. The 19-year-old Leicester born centre-cum-wing started all of England’s Six Nations games and his quick step and lightening pace caused headaches for defences throughout.

Currently away with England Sevens in Hong Kong, Charlie will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of former Sevens and Under 20 wing Christian Wade, who ended the 2011 JWC as joint top try-scorer.  

Dan Robson (Gloucester Rugby)

England scrum half Dan Robson

Photo: Getty Images

A second year Under 20, scrum half Dan impressed consistently throughout this season’s Six Nations with his sniping runs and eye for the try-line. He went through the 2011 Six Nations and Junior World Championship without scoring, but just like buses, got two within twenty minutes of each other against Italy in Rovigo.

Tempo is key to Dan’s game, and if the tap-and-go is on, it’s on. He scored his third try of the tournament in the championship clinching game against Ireland, and was also named man of the match by Sky Sports. With Ben Spencer and Alex Day also in the frame for the No. 9 jersey, competition is high, but like any good professional, expect him to thrive on that.