The 2023 Under-20s Six Nations is well underway, and players from every nation are making fans stand up and take notice.
Ireland and England remain undefeated, but there have been standout stars from France, Italy, Scotland and Wales to.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the players who have starred in the opening two rounds of this year’s Championship.
- READ MORE: Prendergast keeps his cool to down France at the death
- READ MORE: Ma’asi-White shines as England hold off Italy
Wales may be without a win in this year’s Championship, but they have found a real diamond in flying full-back Cameron Winnett.
One word comes to mind when you watch 20-year-old Cardiff Rugby prospect, flair.
It was his lovely little step that created the space for Wales’ first try in their opening game against Ireland, but he was not done there.
He followed it up with an outrageous offload to Dan Edwards in the build-up to his side’s second, keeping the ball alive to allow the fly-half to feed Llien Morgan.
He stayed in the side for the clash with Scotland, and despite a disappointing result, he was superb once again.
He produced another moment of magic to set up Oli Andrew’s score in Round 2.
Remember the name because Winnett has an exciting future ahead of him.
At 37 years old, Johnny Sexton could well be approaching the end of his illustrious rugby career, though few would bet against the evergreen Ireland captain playing well into his 40s.
But fans need not worry, Sam Prendergast has looked every bit a future international star in this year’s Under-20s Six Nations.
Ireland were struggling heading into the second half against Wales, 15-14 behind and on the back foot across the park.
However, the fly-half turned it on after the break, pulling the strings perfectly in the backline and kicking with pinpoint accuracy from the tee.
Then his 18-point haul proved crucial in the Round 2 game against France, giving Ireland a crucial edge in a must-win game that kept their hope of recording back-to-back Grand Slams alive.
He may be following in Sexton’s footsteps, but Prendergast has proven he is good enough to carve out his own lane over the last few weeks.
It does not get much better than scoring a first-half hat-trick in your first Under-20s Six Nations game for England.
Josh Hathaway may have already represented Wales in the Championship back in 2022, but after switching allegiances from Wales to England, there was big pressure on the young winger’s shoulders.
However, it only took him 15 minutes to blow those expectations out of the water, producing three impressive finishes in the early stages of England’s game against Scotland.
He showed his versatility in Round 2 against Italy, putting in a solid defensive performance while also proving an attacking threat throughout.
With four games left, he will have plenty of opportunities to impress over the next month or so.
And having already scored a hat-trick, the winger has an amazing opportunity to end his Under-20 Six Nations campaign as the Championship’s top scorer.
France and England’s forwards will be having nightmares for weeks after going toe-to-toe with Italy’s fearsome pack.
And the Azzurri’s inspirational skipper David Odiase was key to that in Rounds 1 and 2.
Against France, the flanker made an insane 21 carries, the most of any Italy player.
He ended up making 90 metres with the ball, the second most of any player on the pitch.
And he backed it up by winning the hearts of rugby fans everywhere with an inspirational post-match interview that heralded a new dawn for Italian rugby.
He was equally influential against England, this time making 12 carries but still managing to gain 77 metres with the ball in hand.
He believes Italian rugby has a bright future, and so do we after seeing the way he leads his team into battle.
Rudi Brown has been a consistent performer for Scotland from the word go.
He has scored a try in each of his side’s games so far.
His finish against England inspired Scotland to a remarkable comeback before they eventually fell to a late Tobias Elliott try, while his score against Wales proved to be the difference between the two sides.
But he does not just have an eye for the whitewash.
Brown is brilliant in defence, aggressive, tireless, and brave.
He is also prepared to do a lot of the hard yards for his side, scrapping on the floor and regularly popping up with vital carries.
He may not have the flair of a Winnett or the power of an Odiase, but he has something you can’t teach – grit.
Mathis Castro Ferreira
France may have had a mixed start to their Championship, but there has been nothing mixed about Mathis Castro Ferreira’s performances.
The versatile No.8 has impressed with his authority in defence and his attacking prowess with the ball.
In France’s 28-27 win against Italy in Round 1 he made 15 tackles, 20% of which were deemed to be dominant.
And he capped a brilliant evening with the decisive try.
Then the forward backed it up with and equally impressive display going forward against Ireland.
He made 12 carries, gaining 70 metres with the ball and was outstanding throughout.