2024 Ireland U20 vs Italy U20

U20 Six Nations Round 2 Team Of The Week: Italian Power And Future Stars

U20 Six Nations Round 2 Team Of The Week: Italian Power And Future Stars

Here's the 2024 U20 Six Nations team of the week for Round 2. Several stars, such as Marco Scalabrin, Ben O'Connor, Henry Pollock and Patrick Tuifua shined.

Feb 12, 2024 by Philip Bendon
U20 Six Nations Round 2 Team Of The Week: Italian Power And Future Stars

Two rounds in, and the 2024 U20 Six Nations Championship already is at a key point, with just two sides remaining unbeaten - England and Ireland.

Behind them, the chasing pack has shown enough quality to pounce, should the top two slip up.

In a weekend that had such an abundance of standout performers, selecting an XV was a mighty challenge, but here we are!

Below is a team of budding superstars who proved their class in Round 2:

15. Ben O’Connor – Ireland

Edging out France’s Xan Mousques, who was sublime against Scotland, it could be argued that O’Connor was a key reason Ireland emerged with a tight victory over Italy. 

The Munster fullback clearly reveled in the opportunity to play in front of his friends and family in Cork, as he covered the backfield with aplomb. 

His tactical kicking game already is well-refined, and the distance on his kicks is simply mesmerizing.

14. Marco Scalabrin – Italy

Take a deep breath, Italian fans; though your senior team misfired this weekend, your U20s were sublime. 

Leading the charge was Scalabrin, who will go on to become a star for the senior side. Of that, there is no doubt. 

At 6-foot-4 and 100 kilograms (220lbs), Scalabrin combines physicality with guile. His two tries, one assist and try-saving tackle attest to that. 

Ireland could not contain the rampaging powerhouse, and he nearly willed his team over the line.

13. Wilhem De Klerk – Ireland

Replacing the likes of Hugh Cooney and John Devine always was going to be a big ask, but De Klerk has not missed a beat since claiming the starting role. 

The South African-born center has relished playing alongside the ultra-physical Hugh Gavin in the Irish midfield and was one of the standouts for Ireland in the opening two rounds.

12. Harri Ackerman – Wales

The Dragons star is a player with a similar style to the great Jonathan Davies, who was a key cog of the Welsh midfield between 2009 and 2019. 

A ball-playing center who is capable of doing the hard yards in the carry, Ackerman also is a natural-born leader and looks to carry clear authority in his squad.

11. Hoani Bosmorin – France

Simply electric through the opening two rounds, Bosmorin already has featured in the Top 14 for double Champions Cup winner La Rochelle. 

One clearly can see when watching him why he has managed to force his way into Ronan O’Gara’s jam-packed back three at such a young age. 

Capable of beating a defender in confined space, while having the pace to burn them on the outside, a career in senior international rugby is beckoning for the 19-year-old.

10. Martino Pucciariello – Italy

Son of former Munster and Italian player Federico, Martino was a game manager of the highest order against Ireland on Friday. 

Pulling the strings masterfully, he kept his pack on the front foot (something his prop father would love to see), while also creating great opportunities for his lethal backline. 

Given fly-half continually is a position of difficulty for Italian rugby, his emergence as a potential challenger to Paolo Garbisi is a significant development.

9. Archie McParland – England

Scoring a well-taken try in Round 2, McParland showed his sniping ability and significant strength to get over the line. 

Pining the Welsh back with clever kicks, the scrumhalf controlled the tempo of the match superbly.  

8. Mathis Castro-Ferreira – France

Les Bleus captain has led his team magnificently, as they bounced back from a tough loss to Ireland in Round 1. 

Carrying with authority, his physicality, coupled with the sheer power of his teammates, completely overpowered Scotland, as they raced into a multi-score lead. 

Already featuring for Toulouse’s senior team, Castro-Ferreira is built in a similar mold to current French captain Gregory Alldritt and plays a similar direct carrying game.

7. Henry Pollock – England  

Already being touted as a potentially generational player for England, Henry Pollock is the real deal. 

A product of Buckingham RUFC, Stowe School and the Northampton Saints Academy, Pollock has been a standout performer throughout the grade levels. 

Already compiling off-the-charts stats, Pollock will fancy lining up alongside the likes of Tom Pearson and Juarno Augustus in a new-look back row for the Saints, as veterans Courtney Lawes and Lewis Ludlam are set for a move to French Rugby.

6. Patrick Tuifua – France

The latest in an ever-increasing line of outlandishly powerful forwards, Tuifua has superstar written all over him. 

Completely steamrolling Scottish defenders on the weekend, Tuifua is a key momentum generator for Les Bleus.

5. Evan O’Connell – Ireland

Nephew of Ireland icon Paul Evan is following in his uncle’s footsteps as a leader within Irish rugby. 

The captain of this year’s crop of U20s, O’Connell has led exceptionally well in both rounds. 

Facing a game Italian side, O’Connell scored a crucial try for Ireland and made plays at key points at line-out time.

4. Junior Kpoku – England

Starting at No. 4 on our team, England’s enforcer proved once again why Top 14 powerhouse Racing 92 was so keen to secure his signature. 

At 6foot-8 and 120 kilograms (265lbs), Kpoku is a main mountain in a similar mold to his older brothers, Joel and Jon, who both are regular starters in the Top 14. 

Initially coming through the Saracens academy, before spending time in Exeter, Kpoku will be a player English rugby will want to get back into the Premiership.

3. Marcos Gallorini – Italy

Gallorini is the reincarnation of Italian legend Martin Castrogiovanni but 10-15 kilograms heavier.

In simple terms, Gallorini and his front-row buddies took Ireland to scrum school, obliterating their visitors at just about every scrum. 

Already tipping the scales at 133 kilograms (295lbs), the Benetton man almost certainly will be a senior international within the next year.

2. Craig Wright – England

Super dynamic, Wright is the prototypical new-age hooker who is as comfortable with the ball in the loose as he is completing his set-piece duties. 

Spearheading a dominant English scrum, Wright gave the decisive offload for McParland’s try, as he burst out of maul before getting his hands free.

1. Federico Pisani – Italy

Alongside his good buddy Gallorini, Pisani was in bullish form Friday evening in Cork, where he took apart the reigning champion's scrum with ease. 

Most impressive from his outing was how frequently he made yards when carrying the ball in tight against a usually resolute Irish defense.