The class of 2008: What happened to the England XV that reached the first U20 final?

It is 12 years since England reached the final of the first Junior U20 championship. Having breezed through their pool and then seen off South Africa in the last four, England were flattened by New Zealand in Swansea, losing 38-3.

The side, coached by Nigel Redman and Mark Mapletoft, went into the tournament following a Grand Slam of victories in the season’s U20 Six Nations competition.

While the score was demoralising, there was no disgrace in losing to one of their oldest foes, who had a squad that contained Ryan Crotty, Sam Whitelock and future Scotland international Sean Maitland.

England had quality on the bench with Ben Youngs, in particular, going on to have a stellar career.

But what happened to the 15 selected for battle in 2008? RUCK takes a look.


Fullback: Noah Cato – RETIRED

The then Saracens player was thrust into the limelight early in his career, finishing as the clubs top try-scorer in 2009, and would follow up his exploits with the U20s by winning four caps for the England Saxons. However, his subsequent move to Northampton was not a success and he was rarely been part of the first XV. Joined Newcastle in 2013 and helped them back into the Premiership before he was released in 2015.


Winger: Mark Odejobi – RETIRED

Retiring from rugby at the age of 26, the London born winger hung up his boots this year and pursued a career in the financial industry in 2006. He had successful club stints with Wasps, London Scottish, Henley and Esher before spending the last three years of his career jet-setting around the world with the England Sevens squad.


Centre: Luke Eves – Hartpury College

Luke started his career with hometown club Bristol. As well as playing club rugby he also has international experience, captaining the England U20 side which reached the final yet again a year later in June 2009. He signed for Newcastle from Bristol towards the end of the 2009/10 season. He returned to Bristol in January 2012 before joining Hartpury College in 2015, helping them to promotion to the Championship.


Centre: Jordan Turner-Hall – RETIRED

Turner-Hall went onto have a highly successful career before being forced to retire due to injury in 2015. Developing into one of the most powerful and destructive centres in the Premiership, he played a pivotal role in the back to back victories against Stade Francais during the 2008/09 Heineken Cup campaign. During his ten year career, he made over 150 appearances for the Club, winning silverware with the Amlin Challenge Cup and the Aviva Premiership.


Winger: Miles Benjamin – RETIRED

Benjamin retired from rugby because of a knee injury in 2016. The England Saxons international, who was just 27, joined Leicester from Worcester before the start of the 2013-14 season but has been plagued by injuries and made just 29 appearances, scoring 10 tries.

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