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Five standout Gallagher Premiership Rugby stars from the World Rugby Under-20s Championship

Five standout Gallagher Premiership Rugby stars from the World Rugby Under-20s Championship

The World Rugby Under-20s Championship is in the books for another year after France defended their title after edging a pulsating final against Australia.

The tournament in Argentina was full of thrills and plenty of skill, with a raft of Gallagher Premiership Rugby players on show playing starring roles.

Below we look at five of the standout Gallagher Premiership Rugby performers from the tournament, who could very well be on their way to greatness in the coming years.

Ewen Ashman (Sale Sharks)

The tournament’s top try-scorer, Ewen Ashman led the charge for a Scotland side that finished 12th overall, failing to win a single game in Argentina.

Hooker Ashman was Scotland’s shining light bar none, however, the 19-year-old rumbling over the line seven times, with France’s Jordan Joseph, who has made a raft of senior appearances for Racing, nearest behind with five tries.

Ashman, who was born in Toronto, Canada, used to play back row or even centre, and is a product of Sandbach RFC, where he was coached by Sale Sharks clubmate and fellow hooker Rob Webber.

Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons)

England full-back Hodge was at the heart of everything good Steve Bates’ side did in the tournament on their way to a fifth-place finish.

Hodge ended the competition with the most points scored (63), most conversions hit (19) and the most successful clean breaks (11), and showed his agility and pace with an impressive solo try against Wales in the fifth-placed play-off.

A product of the Newcastle Falcons academy, Hodge hails from South Cumbria and, if this tournament is anything to go by, will be a huge attacking asset for his side if he establishes himself in the first team over the next few seasons.

Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)

Long marked out as a star of the future, Ted Hill did his blossoming reputation no harm with his performances for England in South America.

The back-row forward, who was handed his senior international debut by Eddie Jones against Japan in November 2018, made his presence felt as he plundered three tries for England, going over against Wales in his team’s 45-26 fifth-placed play-off success.

Last September, Hill burst onto the scene in Gallagher Premiership Rugby with two tries on debut against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road and after playing a pivotal role in Argentina, looks set to build on a dream breakthrough season next term.

Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints)

Son of Northampton legend Jon, young wing Ollie Sleightholme made a brilliant start to life in Gallagher Premiership Rugby when he scored 15 seconds into his debut in Saints’ 36-17 win over Wasps in November.

During the tournament in Argentina, he continued to impress as he scored England’s second try, an opportunistic pick up of a spilled up-and-under, in their 56-33 win over Australia.

Sleightholme, who can also play centre and who represented England in rugby sevens at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, has big footsteps to follow in but has shown that he has all the ability to do so thus far in his fledgling career.

Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers)

Welshman Tommy Reffell enjoyed an outstanding tournament, making the most tackles of anyone as the back-row forward continued the bright start to his career.

The 20-year-old made his debut for Leicester Tigers in November 2017 and has since made seven appearances to date with favourable comparisons having already been made to Welsh legend Sam Warburton.

Having thrived on every stage he has been on, Reffell’s leadership abilities have been particularly impressive and he showed the temperament of a young man who could go far in the game as he helped Wales to a sixth-placed finish.

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