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Getting Nominated For The U20 World Player Of The Year Doesn't Always Lead To A Big Career

Getting Nominated For The U20 World Player Of The Year Doesn't Always Lead To A Big Career
By Conor O'Leary
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With two man of the match awards, and a stellar all around tournament - Max Deegan became the first ever Irish winner of the U20 World Player Of The Year. He was just the third Irish player to ever be nominated for the U20 player of the year/tournament after JJ Hanrahan and Garry Ringrose, and the fourth at any age grade with Jamie Heaslip getting a nod at U21s in 2004.

If the list of previous winners is anything to go by - Deegan is set for a distinguished career. The same can not be said for his beaten nominees.

The ultimate winners of the prize is quite a list - Luke Braid in 2008, Aaron Cruden, Julian Savea, George Ford, Jan Serfontein, Sam Davies, Handre Pollard, and Akira Ioane last year. That's quite a list of two World Cup winners, and three other internationals. It's still early in the careers of Davies and Ioane, but there's no doubt both are dominating for Ospreys and the Blues respectively and are on the fringes of their national side. Only Luke Braid doesn't have an international cap.


You'd assume that the other nominees that they beat would also have long international careers, but looking at the list - it's quite a sad one. A lot of the names wouldn't be household names from even their European Cup careers. How many do you recognise?


2009 - Winston Stanley, Carl Fearns, Richard Kingi

2010 - Tyler Bleyendaal, Robbie Coleman, Ignacio Rodriguez Muedra

2011 - Luke Whitelock, Sam Cane

2012 - JJ Hanrahan, Shaun Adendorff

2013 - Ardie Savea, Jack Clifford

2014 - Nathan Earle, Tevita Li, Garry Ringrose

2015 - Jonah Placid, James Chisholm, Tevita Li.

Because we're Irish - most of us will know Ringrose, Hanrahan, and Bleyendaal. But from everyone else there are 47 caps - 34 of which belong to Sam Cane. That's compared to the 154 caps between the winners. Jack Clifford and Ardie Savea were the best year for the nominees - both look like they are at the start of a seriously good career. They have nine caps between them.

The likes of Muedra and Adendorff both left rugby - Adendorff has only returned to Currie Cup this year; whilst Stanley, Kingi, Coleman, Bleyendaal, and Fearns have had decent careers. Even JJ Hanrahan hasn't kicked on the way he should have following that stellar 2012 tournament - a full four years ago.


It's an odd anomaly, but given the pedigree of this year's crop - Shaun Stevenson, Harry Mallinder, and Attata Moeakiola all have senior level experience already, you'd hope they can all go on to big things.

See Also: Watch: Ireland U20s Max Deegan Gives A Wonderfully Intense Interview After New Zealand Win


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