The U20 World Championship came to a thrilling conclusion on Friday as France defeated Ireland 50-14 to lift their third consecutive title in Cape Town.
England were denied an all-northern hemisphere 1-2-3 by South Africa, falling 22-15 to the hosts, while Wales finished sixth after a 57-33 defeat to Australia.
And Italy avoided relegation for next year’s World Championship with a 45-27 win over Japan.
It was a strong showing from the Six Nations sides and with several players making their mark, we look at a selection who could make the step up to the senior sides for the 2024 Guinness Six Nations.
Champions France have a whole host of players that will surely be making their impression on the Guinness Six Nations in future but one who may be able to make that jump sooner rather than later is centre Nicolas Depoortere.
Capable of playing on the centre or on the wing, Depoortere scored five tries in five matches in South Africa, while his ability to break the line is certainly eye-catching.
The 20-year-old has already stepped up at senior level for Bordeaux, playing in as many as 12 Top 14 matches, including their semi-final defeat to La Rochelle.
Jonathan Danty and Gaël Fickou seem to have the centres locked up at the moment, while Damian Penaud and Ethan Dumortier were in fine form during the last Championship, making cracking the team difficult but Depoortere certainly has the ability to find his way onto the bench at the very least, potentially providing competition to Emilien Gailleton, his centre partner during the Under-20 Six Nations, who missed the World Championship to train with the senior squad ahead of the World Cup.
England’s star of the World Championship looked like he already had what it takes to reach Test level.
A try against Les Bleuets in the semi-final defeat followed two scores in the Under-20 Six Nations but it was his ball-carrying and general physicality that set him apart from both his teammates and opponents.
After a season in which he made 22 appearances for London Irish, Cunningham-South has now joined Harlequins, where he joins England back row Alex Dombrandt.
He certainly will be a big part of their season in the Gallagher Premiership but don’t be surprised to see him in Steve Borthwick’s plans soon either.
Ireland U20s fly-half Sam Prendergast was one of the players of the Championship as Ireland sealed Grand Slam glory and he proved to be hugely important in their World Championship final journey too.
He scored 38 points in total for Ireland in South Africa and his emergence from the U20s may have come at the perfect time with Ireland fly-half and captain Johnny Sexton retiring after the World Cup.
Prendergast will therefore have a pathway into the Leinster set-up, where he already made his first two appearances in the United Rugby Championship and although Ireland traditionally do not cap players as early as 20, he appears a special talent who may require a different approach.
Who replaces Sexton as the frontline fly-half is unknown, especially with Joey Carbery not included in the World Cup squad and if Prendergast can get opportunities with Leinster, he could be among Andy Farrell’s side as they attempt to defend their Grand Slam title.
Italy may have finished 11th of 12 in the U20 World Championship but that does not mean there were not some stand-out performers in their side.
Centre Dewi Passarella had a huge role in the Azzurrini’s Under-20 Six Nations campaign, playing a full 80 minutes in both of their victories over Wales and Scotland and he was even more effective in South Africa.
A try in the defeat to Argentina was followed by another full 80 minutes as Italy made history when defeating South Africa but it was in the most high-pressure game that he really came out firing, scoring a hat-trick against Japan to avoid relegation for the next cycle.
He did make his debut for Benetton in the United Rugby Championship and next for him will be earning regular starts but he certainly is one that could become a key component of an Italian centre partnership that currently does not look fully settled.
Winnett may have only played in the group matches but he certainly made an impression in those three games.
He started all five matches in the Under-20 Six Nations too and he is another that may just be timing his run to senior level at the perfect time, with Wales legends Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams coming to the end of their storied careers.
Williams was also Winnett’s main competition for Cardiff too prior to a move to Japan this summer, which suggests that opportunities are likely to be knocking for the full-back.
Warren Gatland will surely be looking to change it up post World Cup and Winnett could be one of those players that is included in that change.