Six young players from U20s making the step up to senior level this summer

The 2022 mid-year Tests will be the next opportunity for players to push their international cause and it is clear that we will see a few rookies get their chance.

The 2022 mid-year Tests will be the next opportunity for players to push their international cause and it is clear that we will see a few rookies get their chance.

England, Wales, Scotland and Italy have already named squads to prepare for the summer, while France and Ireland will do so shortly.

So as the summer approaches, it is the perfect time to take a closer look at some of the Under-20s graduates who could get their first taste of senior international rugby this summer:

Alfie Barbeary (England)

It feels like it has been a long time coming, but England’s tour to Australia could finally see Alfie Barbeary make his Test debut for England.

Highly-touted when he first came through the ranks as a hooker, the Wasps youngster has now switched full-time to the back row and provides a carrying option that few players can match.

Whether it is at No.8 or blindside flanker, Barbeary feels like he could thrive on the hard pitches of Australia. Alex Dombrandt currently has the first-choice spot wrapped up, but Barbeary will be keen to push the Harlequins man all the way.

Tommy Reffell (Wales)

Wales are not short of openside flankers, it is a position where they go almost ten deep with international options and yet Tommy Reffell has been so impressive for Leicester Tigers this season that he had to get his shot.

The former Wales Under-20s skipper was a standout at age group level in 2018 and 2019 and now 23, looks set to kick on at senior level.

He was included in the squad for the summer tour of South Africa, and while he still has to get past the likes of Josh Navidi and Taine Basham to earn a starting role, Reffell’s ability to turn the ball over at will must surely appeal to Wayne Pivac.

Alessandro Garbisi (Italy)

There was something tantalising about the prospect of an all-Garbisi half-back pairing for Italy and that took a step closer to becoming a reality when Alessandro Garbisi was named in the squad for the summer clashes with Portugal, Romania and Georgia.

After a slow start to the Six Nations Under-20s, Garbisi came into his own later in the campaign as Italy enjoyed a breakthrough season with wins over England, Scotland and Wales.

Originally a fly-half, he made the switch to scrum-half around the age of 15 and that could see him join forces with Paolo, already a star for the Azzurri, sooner rather than later.

Since the Six Nations Under-20s, he has earned more game time with Benetton leading to this call-up.

Nolann Le Garrec (France)

Grand Slam champions France will not name their squad for the summer tour for a while yet, with Fabien Galthié set to travel to Japan without the Top 14 finalists.

If Racing 92 make it, then Nolann Le Garrec will not travel, but otherwise it seems very likely that he will make his senior bow this summer.

The scrum-half does not possess the physicality of Antoine Dupont, but is mature beyond his years and already looks to be comfortable at the highest level despite having only just turned 20.

An assured goal-kicker, he is a natural playmaker and provides plenty of zip around the park, and could quickly establish himself as a credible back-up to Dupont.

Ben Muncaster (Scotland)

Scotland are not lacking for options in the back row with Rory Darge the latest flanker to emerge on the big stage and the next cab off the rank could be just around the corner.

It was no surprise to see Ben Muncaster included in Scotland’s squad for their summer tour of Argentina after a breakout campaign for Edinburgh this year.

A powerful carrier at No.8, Muncaster is also capable of playing on the flank and was recognised for his performances this season by being named Edinburgh’s young player of the season.

Alex Kendellen (Ireland)

Ireland are yet to name their squad to travel to New Zealand but the second half of the season has certainly helped the cause of back-rower Alex Kendellen.

A standout for Ireland in the 2021 Six Nations Under-20s in which he captained the side, Kendellen has taken senior rugby in his stride.

Benefiting from injuries at Munster, he caught the eye in a European quarter-final against defending champions Toulouse, and his ability to play across the back row while offering a threat as a carrier and as a jackal, would hint at a bright future.

With five games on the tour to New Zealand including the three Tests against the All Blacks, Kendellen would seem like a good candidate to travel, even with Ireland’s huge back-row stocks.