World U23 XV: The Next Generation

World U23 XV: The Next Generation

The future of test rugby! We have taken a dive through the youngsters around the world and made some tough calls to select XV who we think are the best u23s in the world right now.

We have selected the top player in the position followed by at least two notable mentions.

We have selected the players who are still 23 (as of May 2020) or are younger so players born in 1996 can still qualify for the side while players with test more experience have got the nod when the decision is close.

1. Rhys Carre - Wales (22)

Rhys Carré found himself in the mix for Wales' Rugby World Cup squad after just four professional matches under his belt.

He went on to shine at the World Cup and repay Warren Gatland's faith in him. A massive unit with plenty in the tank, we expect Carré to become an anchor in Wales' squad for years to come. 

Notable mentions: Jean-Baptiste Gros (France), Guram Gogichashvili (Georgia)

2. Asafo Aumua - New Zealand (23)

Injuries and inaccuracies at the lineout have limited Aumua's test experience so far but with a new era beginning under Ian Foster, we may see the best of Aumua in the near future.

A furious tackler and ball carrier, he is also excellent over the ball and could develop into one of the finest hookers in the game.

Notable mentions: Ronan Kelleher (Ireland), Peato Mauvaka (France)

3. Demba Bamba - France (22)

An incredibly tough call to make between Bamba and Australia's Taniela Tupou. Both are fantastic athletes around the pitch but Bamba gets the nod with his superior scrummaging.

The Rugby world was truly robbed that Bamba played just 34 minutes at the Rugby World Cup last year with an injury cutting his tournament short.

Notable mentions: Taniela Tupou (Australia), Leon Brown (Wales)

4. James Ryan - Ireland (23)

Ryan sneaks in with his 24th birthday coming July this year. Hard to believe right? A certain starter for Ireland and one would not be shocked to see him start in a Lions test coming the tour to South Africa.

Notable mentions: JJ van der Mescht (South Africa), Nick Isiekwe (England)

5. Izack Rodda - Australia (23)

Another player who just sneaks in. Rodda turns 24 in August but has also cemented a starting role with his national side having started 23 of his 25 tests to date.

A massive ball carrier and hard worker, Rodda is a hard worker and was a favourite of Michael Cheika with Dave Rennie also appreciating players of his ability too.

Notable mentions: Quintin Strange (New Zealand), Ryan Baird (Ireland)

6. Marcos Kremer - Argentina (22)

A position we were spoilt for choice. However, with 28 test caps under his belt before his 23 birthday, Marcus Kremer was hard to ignore. An incredible athlete, Kremer is another who has seamlessly made the transition to test rugby and is often incredibly underrated by anyone outside of Argentina.

Notable mentions: Aaron Wainwright (Wales), Lukhan Salakaia-Loto)

7. Tom Curry - England (21)

Another position where there were multiple contenders. Tom Curry has been used at no.8 and blindside by Eddie Jones but his game is probably more suited on the openside flank and is arguably the best player in the world in his position.

At such a young age, Curry is already prolific and could take his game to yet another level in years to come.

Notable mentions: Sam Underhill (England), Dalton Papalii (New Zealand)

8. Jordan Joseph - France (19) 

Pick a country and you will find a promising no.8 or two that could certainly feature in this XV. 

England, for example, have their fair share of options but our pick goes to the incredibly talented Jordan Joseph. At 19, Joseph has spent his short career to date punching well above his weight and is a name you should get used to as we will hear a lot about him in the years to come. 

Notable mentions: Gregory Alldritt (France), Zach Mercer (England), Caelon Doris (Ireland)

9. Antoine Dupont - France (23)

Another who sneaks in with his birthday in November. Already one of - if not - the best scrumhalf in the game. 

Dupont will be a driving force in making France world beaters once again and is insanely well rounded for such a young player.

A special mention for Georgia's Vasil Lobzhanidze who became the youngest player ever to reach 50 test caps and has already been to two World Cups before his 24th birthday.

Notable mentions: Tate McDermott (Australia), Vasil Lobzhanidze (Georgia)

10. Romain Ntamack - France (21)

Every world-class scrum-half deserves a world-class 10 and Dupont has exactly that in Romain Ntamack. At 21, Ntamack plays at a level far beyond his years and looks unfazed with anything that the opposition throws at him. 

France have a further two class young flyhalves in Louis Carbonel and Mathieu Jalibert will challenge Ntamack for the #10 jersey, lucky for Ntamack he is more than capable at fullback and inside centre.


Notable mentions: Marcus Smith (England), Domingo Miotti (Argentina), Tedo Abzhandadze (Georgia)

11. Damian Penaud - France (23)

Another Frenchman!

Penaud is an absolute joy to watch and beats the likes of New Zealand's Sevu Reece and Scotland's Darcy Graham. The future is certainly bright for France.

Notable mentions: Sevu Reece (New Zealand), Darcy Graham (Scotland)

12. Arthur Vincent - France (20)

A sixth and final Frenchman to feature in our side. Vincent is a potential Les Bleus captain and looked like a test veteran when he made his debut during the Six Nations.

An astute and intelligent defender, Vincent is a different breed of French centres but is yet another star ready to take off and propel France to the top of World Rugby.


Notable mentions: Joe Marchant (England), Rikus Pretorius (South Africa)

13. Jordan Petaia - Australia (20)

A test debut may have come soon than the Rugby World Cup in Japan had Petaia not struggled with injuries. A mercurial talent he has it all, a hot step, superb offload and speed that burns.

Braydon Ennor and Wandisele Simelane are two other talents worth keeping an eye on but Petaia is certainly one of the best youngsters in the world right now.

Notable mentions: Braydon Ennor (New Zealand), Wandisele Simelane (South Africa)

14. Rieko Ioane - New Zealand (23)

Ioane caught the imagination of the rugby world when he dazzled the British and Irish Lions in 2017 taking the starting jumper away from Julian Savea in the process.

24 tries in 29 appearances for the All Blacks, Ioane has been nothing short of prolific and although has lost his place in the starting All Blacks' XV, he still has a future with the national side.

Ian Foster could shift the youngster into the centres while differences in style between Foster and Hansen could see Ioane return on the wing.

He has all the tools for a test starter and would probably start for any other nation.

Notable mentions: Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales), Will Jordan (New Zealand)


15. Jordie Barrett - New Zealand


With the build of a modern lock, Jordie Barrett is a frightening opponent. 

Outstanding in the air with sublime skills that include a canon boot, stellar link-up play and pace to burn the only thing standing in Jordie Barrett's way of becoming a regular starter for the All Blacks is the question of where he is best suited.

The youngest of the Barretts, Jordie can play any position from 10 to 15 and do so excellently. He beats the enormous talents of Jordan Larmour and Damian Willemse to a place in our side.  

Notable mentions: Damian Willemse (South Africa), Jordan Larmour (Ireland), Isaac Lucas (Australia)

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