The Class of 2013 – England’s Junior World Cup Winners

England won the junior world cup in 2013 for the first time. The best players of their age group. How are they coping now they are not competing just against those their own age but against players from 15 or so age groups? Let’s see where they are now and how they are getting on.

1 Alec Hepburn

I thought that it would be quite easy to find out where these players where with a quick google search. That was immediately shattered when I searched for the first player. It appears that Alec is in Australia playing grade rugby after being at Wasps up to last season.

The only player not still with an English professional side, not looking promising but hopefully he makes it down under.

Update 16/1/15 – Hepburn was with Perth Spirit but has just signed a contract with Exeter Chiefs until 2017. Read the link to get a little bit about his journey but clearly things are looking good, even if he currently has a knee injury.

2 Luke Cowan-Dickie

Still with Exeter Chiefs and seen as a future England international, his progress was slight disrupted by injury but made his first team breakthrough during the 2013-14 season making 10 appearances in the Premiership. His form combined with other players being absent meant that he got into the squad for England’s’ tour of NZ over the summer. Unfortunately he didn’t get to play as his tour was cut short by injury but both he and the England coaching staff will have learnt a lot about each other. Currently he is still coming back from injury.

On a long-term contract at Exeter Chiefs, things are looking promising.

3 Scott Wilson

Scott has been brought on well up north, getting good game time off the bench upon Falcones return to the Premiership. This season has seen his first Premiership try and also a run in the starting shirt. We’ll have to see how far he can go but a career as a club prop as a minimum looks on the cards.

On a long-term contract at Newcastle Falcons, things are looking promising.

4 Tom Price

Looks like he is still at that the Tigers academy and currently injured. What a shame as with Tigers injuries he could easily have got some very good experience. Unfortunately this is not his first injury either having come back a neck injury received during his senior début. With 3 LV= Cup appearances to his name so far, he has had some first team experience but not yet broken through for the top games.

Still in Tigers academy so it’s a case of good luck to the boy and wait and see.

5 Dominic Barrow

A product of the Leeds academy but now with Newcastle, Dominic has settled into life in the premiership well. With 11 appearances last season and ever-present in the match day squad this season, he is slightly a head of his club colleague Wilson on the development pathway. This shouldn’t be a surprise as front row and half backs tend to need more time to develop either physically or in their decision-making.

On a long-term contract at Newcastle Falcons, things are looking promising.

6 Ross Moriarty

Made his first senior appearances for Gloucester in the 2012-13 in both the LV= Cup and Premiership. During 2013-14 only had limited opportunities with a couple of appearances off the bench in the Premiership and some LV= Cup time. 2014-15 has really been his break through though, selected for every game so far even if it has been mainly on the bench.

Don’t know what his contract situation is but appears to be developing well at Gloucester.

7 Matt Hankin

A product of the Saracens academy has so far only managed one appearance off the bench in the Premiership for 13 mins last season. When you think of the resources that Saracens have in the back row it’s going to take something special to break into that unit.

Don’t know what his contract situation is and hasn’t broken into the senior squad but still has the opportunity to make it.

8 Jack Clifford (C)

Part of the Quins setup, was selected for the bench against Gloucester towards the end of the 2012-13 season but didn’t make it onto the pitch. Got a couple of games the following season but was then out of action with a knee injury. This season has had a couple of appearances off the bench so is being brought through at a club that is famous for developing players well through their academy.

Don’t know how long his contract is but appears to be developing well at Quins.

9 Alex Day

At Saints he clearly has some great role models to learn from. Made his Premiership début last season off the bench and has had some good performances in the LV= Cup. Scrum half being one of the decision-making and bossing others about kind of role, it’s one of those where you have to command respect and will be slower coming through. Saints seem to be bring Alex through well and when he’s ready.

Don’t know how long his contract is but appears to be developing well at Saints.

10 Henry Slade

Coming through in one of the pivotal roles his progress was always going to slightly slower than some of the players in other positions. Even so got a couple of appearances off the bench at the end of the 2012-13 season and really made a mark the following season with 20 appearances in the Premiership to go along with Heineken Cup outings opposite Jonny Wilkinson of all people. Capped the season by turning out for England in a non-cap game against the Barbarians where he received lots of plaudits for his fearless tackling. This season has started every game but at outside centre and has generated calls for his inclusion in the England setup for the autumn internationals.

On a long-term contract at Exeter Chiefs things are looking promising.

11 Ben Howard

A back three player for Worcester Warriors made his Premiership début against Tigers at Wellford Road in September 2012. Giving a player a début in that environment shows that Warriors believe they have player who can take the pressure. Even so he only got included in the match day squad 2 more times last season. This season has been starting at 15 for Warriors in the Championship. This is in part due to injury to Chris Pennell but clearly doing a job for the side in their captains absence.

Has a first team contract at Warriors and getting game time so things are looking promising.

12 Sam Hill

Another one whose progress was delayed by injury during the 2012-13 season. Made his breakthrough into Exeter Chiefs first team during the 2013-14 season starting 12 Premiership games with another 3 off the bench. His form this season has already got him being talked of as a possible England call up but with the world cup coming up a Saxons selection is more realistic.

On a long-term contract at Exeter Chiefs things are looking promising.

13 Harry Sloan

Another coming through the Quins setup, got his first start at Premiership level against Worcester last season and picked up his first try. That will be particularly pleasing having been injured earlier in the season. This season has had a couple of starts but injury forced him off after only 15 mins against Exeter. Hopefully he recovers soon as it looks like he is progressing well.

Don’t know how long his contract is but broken into the Quins first team and things are looking promising.

14 Anthony Watson

One of the better known names in this list having been called up to train with the England senior squad and getting to tour NZ over the summer. Also the one that has played the most senior club rugby, originally at London Irish where he got his first taste of Premiership action back in 2011-12 coming off the bench against Newcastle. The following season when most of the others on this list were lucky to make token appearances off the bench, Watson made 4 starts for Irish and further 3 appearances off the bench. 2013-14 saw him in the blue of Bath and really cemented himself as a Premiership player starting 19 games, coming off the bench for a couple more and only missing 1 game. Got to tour with England to NZ appearing in the midweek game against Canterbury and should be named in the EPS.

Don’t know how long his contract is but clearly part of Baths plans and things are looking promising.

15 Jack Nowell

The trailblazer for this squad with 5 England caps already, missed the NZ tour for knee surgery. Made his breakthrough during the 2012-13 season as the LV-Cup young player of the season and clocked up 11 starts in the Premiership. Interestingly enough in his second season he only got 6 premiership starts but also started all of England’s 6 Nations games. As long as he proves that he has come back from injury should make the EPS even if winger is a congested and up for grabs position.

On a long-term contract at Exeter Chiefs things are looking promising.

16 Scott Spurling (R)

Part of the setup at Saracens, Scott is being brought through their system. Has appeared in LV= Cup matches and made his premiership début last season coming off the bench twice. This season he has already doubled his appearances with another couple of appearances off the bench.

Don’t know how long his contract is but things are developing nicely.

17 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (R)

Hobbs-Awoyemi is part of the Saints setup but so far has not made his Premiership début. Being a prop there is no hurry as it’s a position where you need to physically develop before playing against hardened veterans. I remember hearing Flatman say that you don’t want young props playing too much or it can shorten their career.

Don’t know what kind of contract he is on and only time will tell if he’ll make it at senior level.

18 Tom Smallbone

The only player not to make it onto the pitch in the final, Smallbone has come through the London Irish academy. Made his Premiership début at the end of last season with 2 appearances off the bench. Not featured so far this season.

Don’t know how long his contract is but things seem to be developing nicely.

19 Harry Wells (R)

Looks like he is part of the Tigers setup even though I couldn’t find him on the Tigers website. He is listed on the Aviva Premiership one and it looks like he is out on loan to Bedford for the season. Clearly hasn’t progressed at the pace of some of the others in this list but not everybody does progress at the same rate and he still has time on his side.

Don’t know what kind of contract he is on and only time will tell if he’ll make it at senior level.

20 David Sisi (R)

Another one to come through the ranks at London Irish but then move to Bath. Made his Premiership début at Irish in the 2011-12 season picking up 6 caps including 2 starts. For some reason didn’t get any appearances in 2012-13 before moving to Bath and another season of no Premiership action. This season has managed to break into the team with 2 substitute appearances including scoring his first try in the loss to Wasps.

Don’t know how long his contract is but has started to get game time so looking promising.

21 Callum Braley (R)

Came through the academy at Bristol and then this summer made the move to Gloucester but still in their academy not first team squad. Clearly behind players such as Laidlaw and Robson so it’s going to be a real fight for him to get into the first team squad.

It appears he is on an academy contract and only time will tell if he’ll make it at senior level.

22 Ollie Devoto (R)

Joined Bath academy for the 2012-13 and an injury crisis at Bath gave him his opportunity that he has not looked back from. 8 games that season followed by a further 14 last season, means he has more senior caps than nearly everybody else on this list. This season he has been restricted to appearances from the bench but he has still got kitted up 5 times.

Don’t know how long his contract is for but things are looking promising.

23 Henry Purdy (R)

Purdy moved from Tigers academy to Gloucester in the summer and it’s not his first move in his fledgling career. He was originally at Wasps but the money issues that have finally made Wasps move to Coventry, made Purdy move to the midlands a couple of years ago. The move to Gloucester has so far been a success with 4 starts already including a try against Welsh.

Don’t know how long his contract is for but things are looking promising.

Here are links to my other pieces on Junior World Cup winning teams:

The Class of 2011 – New Zealands’s Junior World Cup Winners
The Class of 2012 – South Africa’s Junior World Cup Winners

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