Junior World Player of the Year Winners - Where are they now?

by Ultimate Rugby

With the conclusion of this year's World Rugby U20 Championship coming this weekend in Tblisi, we take a look at the 8 past winners of the World Rugby Junior Player of the Year and how they've progressed since attained the accolade. 


Aaron Cruden (New Zealand) - 2009

Aaron Cruden's story is one of inspiration & resilliance. In 2008, the outhalf was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 19 which resulted in the removal of one of his testicals.

Cruden did not let this dampen his dreams and a year later he captained the Baby Blacks to a U20 World Cup in Japan while also being named Junior Player of the Year.

Cruden has since gone on to win 47 All Blacks caps & 109 Super Rugby caps with the Hurricanes & Chiefs. Europe beckons next season for Cruden with Montpellier snapping him up from the Chiefs.


Julian Savea (New Zealand) - 2010

Savea tore up in the 2010 U20 World Championship scoring 8 tries in the tournament before being award Junior Player of the Year. All Black #1111 has already broken an insane amount of records since winning Junior Player of the Year in 2010. Savea is now the leading all time try scorer for the All Blacks with 45 tries in 52 caps & also boasts 45 tries in 100 caps with Hurricanes.

At RWC 2015, Savea finished the tournament as top try scorer with 8 tries as the All Blacks won back to back World Cups for the first time ever. 


George Ford (England) - 2011

Son of rugby league legend & union coach, Mike Ford. George was tipped for greatness from a young age togging out for England U18s at just 15 years old. He was then called into the U20 set up where he played in both the 2011 & 2012 U20 World Championships.

Ford went on to be named Junior World Player of the Year at just 17 years of age. Since then Ford has won 36 caps for England winning back to back 6 Nations titled in 2016 & 2017 under Eddie Jones.


Jan Serfontain (South Africa) - 2012

Known as 'Rocky' by his team mates & friends a like, Serfontein is a bruising centre who is just as strong in defence as attack. The South African was part of the 2012 U20 World Championship winning side which saw him go on to receive his first Springbok call up a year later. 

Serfontein has made 27 caps for the Springboks to date & 57 Super Rugby caps with the Blue Bulls. After a few years in & out of the international & Bulls set up Serfontein is back in the mix looking to fulfil his potential that was recognised 5 years ago.


Sam Davies (Wales) - 2013

Sam Davies is the son of former Wales caretaker head coach Nigel Davies. The creative outhalf was part of the Wales U20 team that lost out to England in the World Championship Final back in 2012 but Davies has gone on to impress since for the Ospreys & Wales as of late making his international debut in November 2016.

Davies was the 7th highest points scorer in the 16/17 PRO12 season with 106 points also had the second highest try assits with 9 for the Ospreys.


Handré Pollard (South Africa) - 2014

After being part of the Baby Boks JWC squads in 2012 & 2014, Handre Pollard's individual performances at the 2014 JWC has to be one of the most impressive the competition has seen. 

Pollard captain the South Africans to the final who agonisingly lost to England 21-20 in a tense final in New Zealand. Off the back of Pollard's impressive tournament he was directly called up to the Springboks squad for the June Internationals against Scotland. Pollard was also part of the RWC 2015 Springbok side that reached the semi-finals of the tournament.


James Chisholm (England) - 2015

Chilsholm who can operate at flanker or number 8 currently plays for Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership. The commanding back rower was part of England U20s squad at the 2014 & 2015 U20 World Cup. Chisholm was unfortunately on the losing side in the 2015 final as New Zealand defeated England.

He also captained England to an U20 6 Nations Championship in 2015 which helped him win Junior World Player of the Year in the following months.

Max Deegan (Ireland) - 2016

The first Irish man to win the award since it's inaugaration in 2008. The former St Michael's schoolboy had an outstanding JWC campaign in 2016 with two MOTM performances & a try in Ireland's first ever win over the New Zealand U20s. Ireland were beaten by a far superior England side in the final but Deegan pipped Mallinder among others to win Player of the Year.

Deegan is currently in the Leinster academy & made 3 appearances in this year's PRO12 for the Irish province.


Our pick to win in 2017 - Gabriel Ibitoye (England)

The Harlequins flyer captained England U18s to South Africa last year where he starred winning Man of the Match & scoring in a runaway victory against Wales. Ibitoye is an illusive winger who has been dangerous for England so far in this year's U20 Championship & is sure to cause the NZ U20s some problems in defence.

Ibitoye has scored 5 tries so far in the tournament and is our pick to take home the prestigious accolade of Junior World Player of the Year.


Who do you think will be named Junior World Player of the Year this year?

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Article by Ultimate Rugby