Three current Exeter students have been selected for this year’s Six Nations Championship; Dafydd Jenkins, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Ross Vintcent have been called up for Wales, England and Italy, respectively. The Six Nations is a huge highlight of the northern hemisphere rugby calendar and this year’s tournament will be anticipated with greater fervour by those connected with these three young, outstanding talents.
Jenkins has been in terrific form for Exeter Chiefs this season, captaining them to superb recent victories over Munster and Toulon. At twenty one years of age Jenkins will be Wales’ second youngest captain ever, behind the great Gareth Edwards. It’s a terrific achievement and a testament to the regard with which he is held by Wales’ head coach Warren Gatland, who has referred to Jenkins as an “incredible professional…diligent in his preparation”. Rob Baxter (director of rugby at Exeter Chiefs) speaking after the Wales squad announcement, was similarly praising of the young star, stating that “the one thing he’s got is he’s got the attitude in training and around the place that you look and go ‘we can build a team around this guy’”. Wales are building towards the next World Cup and Gatland, aligning with Baxter, sees Jenkins, as a “definite starter” in 2027 in Australia.
Dafydd Jenkins is an incredible professional. He is diligent in his preparation.Warren Gatland, Wales head coach
Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, similarly, has been in sparkling form for the Exeter Chiefs. Steve Borthwick, Head coach of England, was full of praise for the winger, remarking on “the speed he brings” and that “he finds a way through contact when there doesn’t seem to be a way there”. Ball in hand, Feyi-Waboso is a balanced runner, combining deft footwork with blistering acceleration and an ability to break tackles. Borthwick will hopefully give him the chance to showcase his talent on one of the biggest stages in world rugby. There was significant speculation regarding whether Cardiff-born Feyi-Waboso would represent Wales or England, but it is the latter that will benefit from his presence in their squad.
Ross Vintcent’s selection is just reward for a number of impressive displays he has put in this season, including coming off the bench to score a try in the terrific comeback victory against Munster in December. A dynamic back rower, playing at number 8 for Exeter Chiefs, he is making the step up to the senior squad from the Azzurri under 20s.
Jenkins, Feyi-Waboso and Vintcent have earned their places at the top table of Northern Hemisphere rugby. It will be exciting to mark their progress and development through what is a special tournament; the Six Nations rarely fails to deliver in terms of sporting excitement and drama. Ireland and France are the clear favourites this year. However, it will be intriguing to see how England, Wales and Italy fare, charged as their teams are with youth and talent such as the three players discussed here. The tournament kicks off with France taking on current champions Ireland in Marseille on the 2nd of February at 8pm GMT.