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Tier one competitions' best under-23s

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Under-23 squads: Super Rugby vs Premiership vs PRO14 vs Top 14

Following on from the RugbyPass look at the club-by-club strength of the under-23s in the Gallagher Premiership, Guinness PRO14 and Super Rugby, we finish up the series by comparing the strengths of the three competitions as a whole, as well as the Top 14.

Super Rugby, with its heavy focus on the development of homegrown players rather than recruitment, understandably comes out well, as does the PRO14 where the pick of talent from four of the five participating nations ply their trade.

Both the Premiership and Top 14 squads also look packed with talent, despite the heavy recruitment of senior players from abroad that goes on in both competitions.

Take a look at the RugbyPass XVs below and see which one stands out for you…

SUPER RUGBY

Jordie Barrett; Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, Damian Willemse, Rieko Ioane; Curwin Bosch, Embrose Papier; Mayco Vivas, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Jason Jenkins, Marcos Kremer, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papali’i, Jean-Luc du Preez.

The back line leans heavily on the resources of the New Zealand franchises, with the likes of Will Jordan, Bautista Delguy, Jack Maddocks and Sbu Nkosi just missing out. Josh Ioane was another option at fly-half, while Blues centres TJ Faiane and Taniela Tele’a would have been in the mix were it not for talents of Ennor and Willemse.

Tongan Thor keeps out Tyrell Lomax at tighthead, whilst second rows Isaia Walker-Leawere and Izack Rodda were both close in an engine room that could have seen any combination of the four feature.

The back row, however, was where the real strength of the competition showed through, with Du’Plessis Kirifi, Marco van Staden, Jaco Coetzee, Liam Wright and Dan du Preez just some of the players worthy of mention that couldn’t crack the starting three.

GALLAGHER PREMIERSHIP

Max Malins; Joe Cokanasiga, Joe Marchant, Ollie Lawrence, Ollie Thorley; Marcus Smith, Jack Maunder; Rhys Carre, Jack Walker, Ehren Painter, Nick Isiekwe, Joel Kpoku, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, Zach Mercer.

An understandably English-oriented XV, Italian internationals Jake Polledri and Matteo Minozzi were not far off while England cap Ted Hill was similarly close. Hill, like Ben Earl, Ben Curry, Jack Willis, Alex Dombrandt, James Chisholm and Lewis Ludlam, just missed out due to the strength of young back rowers in the Premiership at the current time.

Exeter’s Joe Simmonds, Northampton’s Rory Hutchinson and James Grayson, Bristol’s Piers O’Conor and Sale’s Cam Redpath show the quality of playmakers in the competition despite not making the XV.

Wings are also in abundance with Gabriel Ibitoye, Ben Loader and Jordan Olowofela in the mix. Being drawn largely from one nation, rather than four or five, the Premiership understandably can’t offer up the same number of internationals as the Super Rugby or PRO14 sides.

GUINNESS PRO14

Blair Kinghorn; Jordan Larmour, Sam Arnold, Marco Zanon, Jacob Stockdale; Adam Hastings, Craig Casey; Ox Nche, Dylan Tierney-Martin, Marco Riccioni, Scott Cummings, James Ryan, Jamie Ritchie, Aaron Wainwright, Max Deegan.

One of the most striking things about the PRO14 is the number of talented young tightheads floating about, with Riccioni keeping out Zander Fagerson, Leon Brown, Andrew Porter and Tom O’Toole, with four of those five senior internationals.

The back row depth is also strong, with Magnus Bradbury, Junior Pokomela, Giovanni Licata and Taine Basham on the cusp.

Scrum-half aside, it’s an all-international back line, with further capped options like Joey Carbery, Owen Watkin, Luca Sperandio and Tyler Morgan also in the conversation.

If there is one drawback in comparison to the other XVs on show, it is arguably a lack of fly-half depth below Hastings and Carbery, with Benetton No10 Antonio Rizzi the next man up. It’s not quite the quantity of proven operators that there are in the other three competitions.

TOP 14

Thomas Ramos; Gervais Cordin, Damian Penaud, Romain Ntamack, Gabriel N’Gandebe; Anthony Belleau, Antoine Dupont; Guram Gogichashvili, Pierre Bourgarit, Demba Bamba, Florian Verhaeghe, Florent Vanverberghe, Judicaël Cancoriet, Cameron Woki, Jordan Joseph.

Leaning heavily on the two recent World Rugby Under-20 Championship-winning sides, there is clearly no lack of talent waiting in the wings for Les Bleus.

The likes of Bourgarit and Bamba up front have been capped. The same is true of Gogichashvili for Georgia, with Teddy Baubigny in the mix as well as Selevasio Tolofua and Anthony Jelonch behind a very talented starting back row.

Without doubt, though, the strength of the competition is in the half-backs, where Dupont and Belleau hold off the challenges of a cohort of players.

Baptiste Couilloud, Arthur Retiere and Arthur Coville are all bona fide options at scrum-half, while Mathieu Jalibert, Louis Carbonel and Thomas Darmon offer a similar level of depth at fly-half.

WATCH: Part one of The Academy, the six-part RugbyPassdocumentary series on how Leicester Tigers develop their young players

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Under-23 squads: Super Rugby vs Premiership vs PRO14 vs Top 14