Meet the U20s

Young, gifted, and on their way to Wales. These are the players charged with bringing home the Under 20 World Cup from across the Severn Bridge next month.

Miles Benjamin (Worcester Warriors)
Position: Wing
Age: 20 Born: 11/05/88, Solihull
Height: 1.84m Weight: 97kg
Previous clubs: Pertemps Bees
Education: King Edward’s School, Birmingham
An explosive talent on the wing whose try-scoring exploits helped England clinch the Under 18 AER title in 2006. Moved from Pertemps Bees to join Worcester Warriors in 2006. Won his first England Under 19 cap against France in April 2007 and a successful Under-19 World Championship in 2007 was followed up at Worcester, where he scored on his full Premiership debut and was rewarded with a two-year contract in January 2008. Scored on his only England Under 20 appearance in the Six Nations opener against Wales. He has also represented the West Midlands at athletics and waterpolo, and Warwickshire at cricket. His sporting heroes are two elusive runners – New Zealand’s Joe Rokocoko and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Quite an admission from an Aston Villa fan.
Representative honours: England Under 18, Under 19, Under 20

Noah Cato (Saracens)
Position: Wing
Age: 19 Born 31/08/88, Brighton
Height: 1.81m Weight: 88kg
Education: Hurstpierpoint, University of Hertfordshire
Former clubs: Hove
A quick and powerful runner, Noah Cato is making rapid progress up the rugby ladder has already appeared in the Saracens first team this season, scoring a try on his Guinness Premiership debut against Leeds Carnegie this season. He also tops the try-charts in the Guinness A League. Cato Impressed with two tries against Argentina in the 2007 Under-19 World Championship after being talent-spotted playing for Hurstpierpoint at the National Schools Sevens by Mark Mapletoft. This season he topped England’s scoring charts in the RBS Under 20 Six Nations with six tries in five games. Cato has a south coast sporting pedigree to be proud of, too, as his grandfather was Brighton and Hove Albion great Glen Wilson. He is a comedy fan who enjoys The Office, The Mighty Boosh and Green Wing and lists Steve Coogan as his favourite actor. Ah ha!
Representative honours: England Under 19, Under 20, England Sevens

Nathan Catt (Bath Rugby)
Position: Prop
Age: 20 Born: 06/01/88, Bristol
Height: 1.88m, Weight: 114kg
Education: Clevedon Community School
Former clubs: Clevedon, Pertemps Bees
Nathan Catt worked his way up through the Somerset age group sides before playing a major role in the England Under 18 team that claimed the Home Unions title in 2006 and then impressing in 2007 by appearing in all seven England Under 19 games. He started all the games in the Under 20 Grand Slam campaign this season too, scoring a try against Ireland and captaining the side while Hugo Ellis was off the field. Martin Johnson is his rugby hero and he also admires football great Matt Le Tissier, from the Southampton club the family support.
Representative honours: England Under 18, Under 19, Under 20

Calum Clark (Leeds Carnegie)
Position: Flanker
Age: 18 Born: 10/06/1989, Lancaster
Height: 1.93m Weight: 97kg
Previous clubs: Darlington
Education: Richmond School, Barnard Castle
Calum is one of the Guinness Premiership’s finds of the 2007/08 season and the youngest forward to appear in the top flight after making his debut for Leeds Carnegie in September 2007 against Saracens. He has yet to make his England Under 20 debut after a long run of games in the Premiership. He trained under Brian Ashton as a member of the National Junior Academy in 2005/06 and is one of many players to have come out of the Barnard Castle finishing school, playing for them in the 2007 Daily Mail Schools Cup final at Twickenham.
Representative honours: England Under 16, Under 18

James Clark (London Irish)
Position: Hooker
Age: 18 DOB: 02/10/1989, Bournemouth
Height: 1.75m Weight: 100kg
Previous clubs: Bournemouth
Education: Canford, Millfield
The young London Irish hooker appeared for England’s Under-18 side in the Six Nations Festival in Glasgow and last summer toured Australia, winning a starting place in the Test against Australia Schools in Brisbane. This season he has played for the Exiles in the Guinness A League and made his Guinness Premiership debut against Bristol at the Madejski Stadium. Pays tribute to the influence of former Academy boss Toby Booth on his game and weekly sessions with National Academy Coach and lineout guru Simon Hardy.
Representative honours: England Under 16, Under 18

Alex Corbisiero (London Irish)
Position: Prop
Age: 19 Born: 30/08/88, New York
Height: 1.85m Weight: 116kg
Previous clubs: KCS Old Boys, London Scottish, London Welsh, Cobham
Education: American Community School, Cobham
Alex Corbisiero was born in New York City and has all the attributes to have been a Tight End for the Giants or the Jets. Gridiron’s loss has been rugby’s gain and Corbisiero is now training with the first team squad at London Irish after an impressive Six Nations campaign in which he anchored the England scrum and scored two valuable tries. His sporting hero is Faan Rautenbach because of the physical presence he brings to his scrummaging. Closer to home he’s a Chelsea fan with a good reason for supporting them: they train next door to his home in Cobham. Post-match performances show him to be a rap star in the making too.
Representative honours: England Under 18, Under 19, Under 20

Matt Cox (Worcester Warriors)
Position: Flanker
Age: 20 Born: 06/03/88, Redditch
Height: 1.92m Weight:101kg
Education: Baverstock School
Matt Cox made his England Under 19 debut as a 17-year-old in 2006 before going on to help his country win the Home Unions Under 18s tournament. The flanker appeared for England at Under 19 and Under 20 levels last year, scoring on his debut in a 31-5 win over Scotland for the latter, and this season has flourished following his move to open-side during the Six Nations. Took on Lawrence Dallaglio and Joe Worsley on his Guinness Premiership debut against Wasps and also starred for England Sevens in front of 50,000 fans in Hong Kong. He cites Worcester Warriors Academy coaches Andrew Stanley and Gary Meechan as his biggest influences while Mike Tyson in his glory days and Ricky Hatton are among his sporting heroes.
Representative honours: England Under 18, Under 19, Under 20, England Sevens

Hugo Ellis (London Wasps)
Position: Number eight
Age: 20 Born: 04/02/88, Isleworth
Height: 1.90m Weight: 103kg
Previous Clubs: Richmond, London Welsh
Education: St Benedict’s, Ealing
The athletic London Wasps number eight was described as “an outstanding young player who will lead by example” by coach Nigel Redman, when he handed him the captaincy of the Under-19s in 2007 and Ellis led England to a first Under 20 Six Nations title this season. He scored seven tries in seven games for the Under-19s and continued his development this season with appearances in the Guinness Premiership and on loan for National One side London Welsh. Like team-mate Joe Simpson, he is a product of St Benedict’s school in Ealing and Richmond FC. His father Wyn played at fly-half for Wales Schools, Oxford and Neath while brother Arthur  is also on Wasps’ books and in the England Under 18 squad.
Representative Honours: Wales Under 16, England Under 18, Under 19, Under 20

Luke Eves (Bristol Rugby)
Position: Centre
Age: 19 Born: 11/04/89, Bristol
Height: 1.84m Weight: 102kg
Education: Colston’s Collegiate, Bristol
Luke, the son of former Bristol and Coventry captain Derek Eves, toured Australia with England Under 18 last summer, playing against Australia Schools. Bristol were delighted when he put pen to paper. “Luke is a promising young star who has been sought after by several other Premiership clubs so I’m pleased to see that he’s decided to stay with us,” said head coach Richard Hill. Eves started all England’s Six Nations games this season, scoring tries against Wales and Ireland, and made an instant impression on his first Guinness Premiership start, scoring two tries against Saracens on the last day of the season.
Representative honours: England Under 16, Under 18, Under 20

Jon Fisher (London Irish)
Position: Flanker
Age: 19 Born: 15/09/88, Kingston
Height: 1.96m Weight: 105kg
Education: Wellington College
Wellington has produced some fine back row forwards down the years – England’s James Haskell being the most recent – and Fisher is continuing the tradition. He credits the school’s head of rugby Graeme Owton as one of the reasons behind his success and has made great strides in the last two years, first to reach the Under-19 World Championships in Belfast in 2007 and then to make himself a first-choice selection in the 2008 Six Nations. Mike Skinner – The Streets frontman and not the England flanker – is one of the people he’d most like to meet and New Zealand’s Richie McCaw is his rugby inspiration. Made his Guinness Premiership debut against Leeds Carnegie in May.
Representative honours: England Under 19, Under 20

Scott Freer (Leeds Carnegie)
Position: Hooker/prop
Age: 20 Born: 07/05/88, Leeds
Height: 1.79m Weight: 99kg
Education: Rosset HS; Prince Henry’s GS, Otley; Leeds Metropolitan University
Yorkshireman Scott Freer has undergone a seamless conversion from prop to hooker over the last two seasons, making the switch at the IRB Under-19 World Championships in 2007, and impressing on his appearances off the bench in this year’s Under 20 team with his work-rate and physical power. Both his rugby heroes are props: the ‘amazing’ Jason Leonard and ‘absolutely huge’ Andrew Sheridan. He relaxes listening to Snow Patrol and the Stereophonics and – like many of the squad – his most prized possession is his PC.
Representative honours: England Under 18, Under 19, Under 20

Gregor Gillanders (Leicester Tigers)
Position: Lock
Age: 20 Born: 12/04/1988, Dundee
Height: 1.93 Weight: 109kg
Former Club: Kibworth
Education: Bishop Stopford School
Gregor Gillanders could claim to big and clever. The former Kibworth RFC lock joined the Tigers from Bishop Stopford School with As in Maths and Mechanics and Design Technology. He has an eye on a career in engineering after rugby. Consistently impressive in Under 19 action last season he started England’s first game this term – against Wales – before being recalled by the Tigers to be part of their Guinness Premiership squad, making his first appearance against Saracens. He admires Tigers great Martin Johnson, John Eales and Zinzan Brooke for the way they played the game. Feeder and the fashionable Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly are his favourite bands.
Representative honours: England Under 19, England Under 20

Alex Goode (Saracens)
Position: Fly half
Age: 20 Born: 07/05/88, Cambridge
Height: 1.81m Weight: 83kg
Education: The Leys, Cambridge; Oakham, Rutland; University of Hertfordshire
Previous clubs: Cambridge, London Welsh
All-rounder Alex Goode appeared at the national schools athletics finals, played county tennis and been part of the Ipswich FC academy before joining Saracens. He even has an Olympic medallist in the family in the shape of aunt Jo Goode, who won bronze in Badminton in Sydney in 2000. He moved to full back and contributed 48 points to the Under-19 cause with his accurate goalkicking in 2007, but this year he has flourished in the number 10 shirt for the Under 20s with his ability to open up defences and bring his teammates into the game. He’s a fan of The Kooks and Snow Patrol, as well as Thierry Henry, and is interested in a marketing career after rugby, having completed the first two years of a degree in the subject.
Representative honours: England Under 16A, Under 18, Under 19, Under 20

Joe Gray (Northampton Saints)
Position: Hooker
Age: 19 Born: 05/08/1988, Nottingham
Height: 1.85m Weight: 107kg
Education: South Nottingham College
Previous club: Nottingham
Joe Gray has fought his way back from 13 months on the sidelines following knee surgery to force his way into the first team reckoning at Northampton, appearing in National League One alongside superstar Carlos Spencer as the back-up to England Saxons hooker Dylan Hartley. Started all five of the Under 20 Six Nations games where his accurate lineout throwing and pace around the pitch caught the eye.
Representative honours: England Under 18, Under 20

Scott Hobson (Cornish Pirates)
Position: Lock
Age: 20 Born: 25/1/88, Truro
Height: 2.00m Weight: 99kg
Previous Clubs: Hayle, Redruth
Education: St Ives School, Truro College
Hayle and Redruth are established breeding grounds for Cornwall’s tough forwards and Hobson, from St Ives, stepped up to appear for Cornish Pirates in National League one and will join Bath Rugby after the IRB tournament. He names coach Robin Cowling at the South West England Rugby Academy and Truro College as a major influence on his progress so far and would consider the police – perfect for a lock forward – or teaching PE as future careers. He has also appeared for county giants Cornwall and started all England’s Six Nations games this season.
Representative honours: England Under 18, Under 19, Under 20

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Position: Lock/flanker
Age: 19 Born: 23/2/1989, Northampton
Height: 2.01m Weight: 104kg
Education: Moulton College
Previous club: Northampton Old Scouts
An athletic and versatile forward, Courtney Lawes is Northampton born and bred, grew up within a stones throw of Franklins Gardens and was schooled in the Old Scouts club that has propelled legions of players into the Saints’ ranks. Toured Australia with England Under 18 in 2007 and made his first team debut against Esher in National One this season and two more appearances as the club secured promotion back into the top flight at the first attempt.
Representative honours: England U18

Rob Miller (Newcastle Falcons)
Position: Fly half
Age: 18 Born: 05/08/1989, Carlisle
Height: 1.80m Weight: 86kg
Education: Keswick School
Previous club: Aspatria
Cumbrian Rob Miller has made rapid progress this season, making debuts for England at Under 20 level and for the Falcons in the Guinness Premiership. A student at Northumbria University, he also enjoys watersports, chinese food and lists his great love as ‘winning’ and his hate as ‘losing’. Appeared for England as a replacement against Italy and France – coolly kicking a 50 metre penalty within moments of setting foot on the pitch – and then started the 41-15 win against Scotland.
Representative honours: England Under 16, Under 18, Under 20

Billy Moss (Bath Rugby)
Position: Prop
Age: 20 Born: 08/04/88, Tunbridge Wells
Height: 1.85m Weight: 104kg
Education: Tonbridge School, Exeter University
Billy Moss is the second Bath prop in the squad alongside Nathan Catt. He was born in Tunbridge Wells in Kent and captained the Tonbridge School side for two years before joining Bath’s academy. The Exeter University student clearly has a head for figures after taking A Levels in Business Studies and Economics and wants to set up his own business after rugby.
Another veteran of the 2007 Under 19 campaign, he appeared off the bench in all five Under 20 Six Nations games this season.
Representative honours: England Under 18, Under 19, Under 20

Mark Odejobi (London Wasps)
Position: Wing
Age: 20 DOB: 18/01/1988, London
Height: 1.78m Weight: 100kg
Former clubs: Rosslyn Park, Henley
Mark Odejobi impressed as an Under-18 international and after recovering from a series of injuries is back in the fast lane, making his first Under-20 start against Scotland at Falkirk in March 2007 and scoring his first try for them in the Grand Slam winning game against Ireland. He is a product of Dulwich College and Millfield, where he won two National Schools Sevens titles, and played at Rosslyn Park before joining Wasps. He has impressed as a dual-registered player with Henley in National One this season and is studying for an MSc in Maths and Statistics at Birkbeck University. His diverse taste in music currently includes Bloc Party but there’s only one other team in London for him - he’s a die-hard Arsenal fan.
Representative honours: England Under 16, Under 18, Under 20

Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby)
Position: Wing
Age: 18 Born: 17/08/89, Hong Kong
Height: 1.82m Weight: 92kg
Education: St Peter’s Gloucester
Dubbed ‘Champagne Charlie’ after a hat-trick of tries in the 2006 Daily Mail Schools Cup final at Twickenham, Sharples adds to an exciting group of outside backs vying for places at the Junior World Championship. An unused replacement in the Six Nations win against France, he was prevented from making his debut after being recalled by Gloucester and subsequently appeared in the Guinness Premiership games against London Irish and Sale Sharks.
Representative honours: England Under 18

Joe Simpson (London Wasps)
Position: Scrum half
Age: 19 Born: 05/07/88, Sydney
Height: 1.80m Weight: 84kg
Education: St Benedict’s, Ealing; London School of Economics
Previous club: Richmond, Blackheath
Joe Simpson is a true cosmopolitan, having been born in Sydney, Australia to a mother from New Zealand and father from England, both keen on rugby. A schoolboy team mate of Hugo Ellis, he has played in two Under 19 World Championships and contests the scrum half place with Leicester’s Ben Youngs. His pace means he is an attacking threat around the base of the scrum and he is brave in defence too, starring against New Zealand at Ravenhill in 2007. Dual registered with Blackheath in National Two, he has also represented England Sevens this season, playing in the Dubai and George tournaments.
Representative Honours: England Under 16, Under 18, Under 19, Under 20 England Sevens

Seb Stegmann (Harlequins)
Position: Wing
Age: 19 Born: 12/04/89
Height: 1.85m Weight: 89kg
Education: Cranleigh School
Previous clubs: Esher
Another exciting winger who is genuinely quick over the ground and physical on and off the ball, Seb steps up into the Under 20 squad after two years in England’s Under 18 team. Took over from Miles Benjamin on the wing for England against Italy and France, then scored his first tries in the wins over Scotland and Ireland. Made his Guinness Premiership debut for Quins against Newcastle in September of 2007.
Representative honours: England Under 16, Under 18, Under 20

Alex Tait (Newcastle Falcons)
Position: Centre/full back
Age: 20 Born 18/03/88, Shotley Bridge
Height: 1.83m Weight: 85kg
Previous club: Consett RFC
Education: Barnard Castle, Newcastle University
Consett Under 8s must have been a formidable side with Alex Tait and his brother Mathew in the team. Alex, from Bishop Auckland, followed Mathew into the Barnard Castle first team and they played alongside each other in the Guinness Premiership in 2008. After playing for England at Under 18 and Under 19 levels, Alex made his Falcons debut against Spanish side Cetransa El Salvador in the European Challenge Cup and scored a hat-trick of tries. Returns to the England Under 20 set-up after a hamstring injury forced him out of the Six Nations. He’s also a football fan following Glasgow Rangers and admiring the skill of France’s Zinedine Zidane.
Representative honours: England Under 18, Under 19

Ben Thomas (Saracens)
Position: Lock
Age: 19 Born: 03/05/88, Enfield
Height: 1.97m Weight: 110kg
Previous Clubs: Cheshunt, Hertford
Education: Goffs School, Cheshunt & Haileybury
Thomas, from Cheshunt in Hertfordshire, spent two seasons in the Under 19s and went to the world championships in Dubai (2006) and Belfast (2007), then in the Under 20 Six Nations games against Italy, France and Scotland. Educated at Goffs School and Haileybury, he’s also a keen student of forward play and would loved to have seen Martin Johnson and Victor Matfield play together in what would have been “the best second row ever”.  He’s a fan of the Foo Fighters and Oasis, and – like many of his teammates – of Scarlett Johannson.
Representative honours: England Under 16, Under 19

Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins)
Position: Centre
Age: 20 Born: 05/01/88, London
Height: 1.83m Weight: 102kg
Education: Brighton College
Previous club: Hove
The centre from Hastings made his first team debut for Harlequins in 2006/07 as an 18 year old and has featured in half their games this season – starting with a try on the opening day against London Irish at Twickenham. Helped England to a third place finish at the 2006 IRB Under-19 World Championships. Powerful midfield influence against Wales, Italy and France in the 2008 Under 20 Six Nations before injury halted him.
Representative honours: England Under 16, Under 18, Under 19, Under 20

Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
Position: Scrum half
Age: 18 Born: 05/09/89, Norwich
Height: 1.78m Weight: 76kg
Education: Greshams
Previous club: North Walsham
Ben Youngs became the youngest Leicester player to make a senior league appearance when he made his debut as a 17-year-old against Bristol in April 2007 and he featured in that year’s Guinness Premiership final victory against Gloucester. Another 10 appearances this season confirm he is an exciting emerging talent with a range of skills added to from also playing at fly half and centre. The son of former England scrum half Nick Youngs, his older brother Tom has also appeared for England at Under 20 level. The youngest player in England’s Junior World Championship squad, beating Rob Miller by a month.
Representative honours: England Under 16, Under 18, Under 20

For more on the England U20s, including an exclusive interview with coach Nigel Redman, get the June issue of International Rugby News, out now.