Young guns are making names for themselves on a worldwide stage across rugby, as evidenced in the recently-completed Rugby World Cup where multiple starlets announced their names to the world with standout performances for their countries.
When the EPCR Champions Cup returns this weekend as the pool stages get under way, many of those same players — now wearing their club’s shirt — will be playing against one another, building off of the momentum they built in France.
World Cup winners, hat-trick try scorers and more will be flying into and around defenders this weekend in Europe and South Africa’s top international club rugby competition, and if you couldn’t get enough of emerging stars who caught your eye at the World Cup, now is your chance to catch more glimpses of those same players before they turn into bonafide superstars — regardless of age.
Here a look at five under-25 backs to keep eyes on as the 2023-24 edition of the EPCR Champions Cup gets underway this weekend:
Henry Arundell, Racing 92
If you want an idea of just how stunning Arundell can be on a rugby pitch and how highly regarded he is across the rugby world, just look back at the highlights from his eye-popping five-try game for England against Chile in his first Rugby World Cup appearance.
Or his hat-trick on his debut for Racing 92 a few weeks ago. Or his world-class score against Toulon last year while playing for London Irish, when he solo ran from his own try line and ripped Toulon’s defense to shreds.
The point is this — Arundell is, has, and will be a name to watch in rugby for a long, long time.
Joining the French giants in the summer after the Exiles fell into administration, Arundell has completely hit the ground running in the Top 14 for the current league leaders as the 21-year-old’s star grows, scoring four tries in just three appearances (across just 187 minutes of play, no less) since joining Racing as he awaits his Champions Cup debut and a likely spot with England at the upcoming Six Nations early next year.
Arundell could be the catalyst to a special season for Racing, and the scariest part may be for teams that face it that Arundell has a lot of potential room to grow, even with the level he’s playing at now.
Canan Moodie, Bulls
The seemingly-endless conveyor belt of world-class South African backs produces talent on pretty much a routine basis yearly, and the 21-year-old Moodie looks to be the next man up in a line of stars.
A natural winger who has also shown flashes at fullback and centre, Moodie, the second-youngest Springbok of all time, rose from relative obscurity in the Bulls Academy to being a starter in the squad during the club’s first season of play in the United Rugby Championship in 2021-22.
His try on his senior international debut in the Rugby Championship against Australia in 2022 announced his presence to the world as a name to monitor for the future, and Moodie lived up to the hype from that point forward…
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