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Franklin's Gardens - a stage for future stars

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Saturday evening marks the fourth time Franklin's Gardens will host England Under-20 and if history is anything to go by, you could well be watching the next stars of the world game in action.

And not only have some of the biggest names in the game played in international colours at Northampton, they've stole the headlines, too!

2009 - ENGLAND U20 13-32 FRANCE U21

STAR OF THE SHOW Louis Picamoles

When Louis Picamoles arrived at the Saints last summer, he was already established in the world class bracket of number 8s. But while a string of outstanding performances have seen the 'King' quickly establish himself as a fans' favourite, it was back in 2009 as a 21-year-old that he first made his mark at the Gardens.

With France having yet to move down to Under-20 level, Picamoles - now with 60 senior caps - bagged two of their four tries as they came from 13-5 down to defeat an England side including the likes of Danny Care and Tom Youngs. For the visitors, meanwhile, current France captain Guilhem Guirado also featured, along with fellow internationals Maxime Medard and Fulgence Ouedraogo. 

2013 - ENGLAND U20 52-7 ITALY U20


Only four years have passed since the Under-20 Six Nations made its Gardens debut, but already five of England’s 23-man squad have earned senior caps. While Jack Clifford is among that number, it was something of an Exeter special as Italy were crushed. Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ollie Devoto turned out for title winners England, Michele Campagnaro for Italy, but it is Jack Nowell who scored twice and has arguably gone on to enjoy the most individual success.

Now considered first choice on the wing for Eddie Jones' all-conquering side, Nowell has also prospered on the club scene, helping Exeter to last season's Aviva Premiership final and scoring in the Twickenham showpiece.

On that evening, there was also a try for Tom Stephenson, one of four Saints in action.

2014 - ENGLAND U20 33-9 IRELAND U20 


There's no disputing the biggest English name to play for the Under-20s at Franklin's Gardens. Mark Itoje's star was still very much on the rise when he scored in this four-try win, but it was the start of something special. England missed out on the title, but went on to lift the Junior World Championship later that year.

Fast forward three seasons and Itoje is now a double Premiership winner, European champion and Player of the Year and Anglo-Welsh Cup winning captain, not to mention a nailed down starter for his country. Not too shabby for a guy who is still just 22 years of age. 

There was Saints interest in 2014, meanwhile, with Howard Packman also crossing and future Saints and England prop Paul Hill making an appearance.

International rugby hits Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday, March 11th, when England Under-20 host Scotland in the Six Nations.

Ticket prices start at just £12 for adults and £5 for juniors! CLICK HERE to book online.


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