Too Much Too Young: Nine rugby players who peaked too early

4. Tavis Knoyle

The scrum-half was named in the Wales squad to tour New Zealand in summer 2010, making his debut against New Zealand in Dunedin as a second-half replacement aged 20. He went onto win just 11 caps, all in the next year, before retiring aged 28 following a serious knee ligament injury. He’s since  opened the Unit 9 gym in Neath

5. Olly Barkley

He won 23 caps for England between 2001 and 2008, and such was his early reputation that he featured for England, aged 20, before his club debut with Bath. The strange thing about Barkley is that it is hard to say where it went wrong. He is not blessed with great pace, but kicked well from the tee and out of hand, is a fine distributor and hardly a defensive weakness. He remains one of the biggest mysteries of English rugby from the 2000s.

6. Steve Hanley 

Hanley, aged 20, was one of two Sale players to make their international debut in England’s final match of their 1999 Five Nations campaign along with Barrie-Jon Mather. Although Hanley scored a try, this proved to be his only ever international appearance.

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