Who are the Young Player of the Year winners since 2001 – and what happened to them?

2006: LIONEL BEAUXIS (FRANCE)

He’d make his international debut for France against Italy during the 2007 Six Nations Championship. Following his debut Beaxis was selected for France’s squad for the 2007 Rugby World Cup. During the tournament he made six appearances, first as a replacement against Namibia and Ireland before securing a starting slot against Georgia, a game in which scored his first international try.

Beauxis retained the jersey for France’s famous win over New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium in the quarter-final and also started as Les Bleus were knocked out of the tournament in the semi-final by England. Beauxis missed the entire international season in 2008 due to a nagging back injury, ruling him out of both the Six Nations and autumn internationals.

He then struggled to get back into the international fold until 2012, where he played a part in every Six Nations match. However, he’d have to wait a further Six years for his next recall as a desparate France brought him back into the fold with him playing four of Les Bleus Six nations matches.


2007: ROBBIE FRUEAN (NEW ZEALAND) 

The powerful utility back led New Zealand to the 2007 Under 19 Rugby World Championship, beating South Africa 31-7 in the final.

His debut for Wellington against Auckland soon followed but he was struck down by illness and subsequently underwent open-heart surgery for rheumatic heart disease, a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the heart.

He returned to rugby in 2009 and made over 70 combined Super Rugby appearances for Hurricanes, Crusaders and Chiefs. Fruen then ventured to Europe, playing for Bath and Edinburgh between 2016 and 2018.


2008: LUKE BRAID (NEW ZEALAND) 

The loose forward was part of the Junior World Championship-winning New Zealand Under 20 side in 2008 and was recognised by the IRB as the Junior Player of the Year following that tournament.

He since made more than 80 Super Rugby games for the Blues and the Chiefs (for whom he made his debut) before joining Top 14 side Bordeaux-Begles. Despite not winning a senior All Black cap, he has represented the Maori All Blacks.

Braid comes from a well-known New Zealand rugby family: both his brother Daniel and father Gary were All Blacks. His great-uncle George Wyman captained Eastern Canada against the All Blacks.


2009: AARON CRUDEN (NEW ZEALAND)

Cruden made his provincial debut for Manawatu Turbos in 2008 and captained New Zealand to the 2009 IRB Junior World Championship title in Japan, as well as being named IRB Junior Player of the Year 2009.

He then burst onto the scene with the All Blacks the following year and although he initially missed out on selection for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, he replaced an injured Dan Carter and would go onto pick up a winners medal. However, injury then struck the fly-half with his opportunities then proving to be limited.

Just as he seemed to be getting back to his best, Beauden Barrett burst onto the scene with Cruden as a result moving to Montpellier on a big money contract.


2010: JULIAN SAVEA (NEW ZEALAND)

The winger picked up the award after scoring eight tries for the Junior World Championship-winning New Zealand Under 20 side in Argentina.

Savea thenn stormed onto the international stage in 2012 and quickly proved himself as a powerful runner with ball in hand, scoring nine tries in his debut season. In 2014 he went up a gear, scoring eight tries in eight Tests at a rate to equal that of the All Blacks’ greatest winger.

Savea showed his tremendous try-scoring abilities in 2015, scoring eight tries in eight matches, including a stunning treble against France in the RWC 2015 quarterfinal, one of which secured him the International Rugby Players Try of the Year Award. He was also nominated for the International Player of the Year Award in 2015.

He’s since fell at of favour with All Blacks selectors and secured a big money move to Toulon in 2018.


2011: GEORGE FORD (ENGLAND) 

The then England U20 and Leicester fly-half beat New Zealand duo Sam Cane and Luke Whitelock to the coveted prize. Voted for by team head coaches and match officials, as well as international and local media, Ford was the first Englishman to claim the award and also became the youngest-ever winner of the award.

Ford has gone onto win 64 senior caps, scoring 300 points and winning back-to-back Six Nations titles with England in 2016 and 2017. Domestically, he left Leicester for Bath in 2013 but returned to Welford Road in 2017.

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