England U18s Head Coach, John Fletcher, has named his squad to travel to Poland for the FIRA/AER European Championships.
England campaign beings at midday on the 11th April, when they will play Portugal in Plewiska.
Fletcher has selected a twenty-six man squad, consisting of fourteen forwards and twelve backs. There is a good mix between AASE College students and pupils from the regular school circuit too, with ten of the squad having come from the AASE program, unsurprisingly many of these are selected in the forwards where their excellent strength and conditioning work will make a big difference.
U18 NatWest Schools Cup winner Josh Ibuanokpe of Dulwich College is selected, he is joined by school sparring partner and club teammate Stan South of Whitgift School.
Elsewhere in the pack Prince Henryâ€™s Grammar School prop Lewis Boyce will be looking to get over his disappointment at losing the AASE final with some good results in Poland, as will his school and club mate, Josh Bainbridge.
Three of the side that beat Prince Henryâ€™s in that final, Hartpury College, will be travelling too. Will Safe and Joe Batley in the forwards, and Kai Little in the back division.
Gloucester are the most represented club in the squad with four representatives. Batley and Safe are joined in the pack by Sir Thomas Richâ€™s openside star Sam Underhill, while in the pack division Cheltenham Collegeâ€™s Ollie Thorley also represents the club, indeed he made his 1st XV debut at just 17 earlier in the season.
Unsurprisingly given their recent success rate, the Exeter Chiefs Academy is also well represented. Kai Little is a Chiefs player, while Blundellsâ€™ Jack Maunder also represents the club, as does Jack Stanley of Truro College in the pack.
Harlequins also have a third player in the squad alongside Ibuanokpe and South, Peter Symondsâ€™ Joe Marchant. While Leeds Carnegieâ€™s Boyce and Bainbridge are joined by Giggleswickâ€™s Taylor Prell.
Northampton Saintsâ€™ deadly backline duo of Stoweâ€™s Rotimi Segunand Rugbyâ€™s Harry Mallinder are joined by Trent Collegeâ€™s U18 NatWest Vase winner James Fish in the forwards.
Filton Collegeâ€™s Lucas Slowick celebrates the news of his Academy contract with Bristol with a place in the squad, he is joined in the backline by Saracens and Oalklandsâ€™ star, George Perkins.
Leicester Grammarâ€™s Charlie Thacker has impressed in the centreâ€™s though and will be hoping to start at twelve, while his Leicester Tigers club mate Owen Hills will hope to start in the forwards.
He is joined in the pack by Worcester Warriors and Newcastle Falconsâ€™ only representatives in the squad, Old Swinford Hospitalâ€™s Huw Taylor, and Gosforth Academyâ€™s Callum Chick.
Surprisingly, given the strength of their youth programs, Bath and London Wasps are the only two of the 14 â€˜academy clubsâ€™ not to have any representation in the squad. However despite struggles at 1st XV level the future looks rosy for London Irish who have two representative, Ollie Adams fro St Paulâ€™s Catholic College, and one of our 12 to watch at Rosslyn Park, Abingdon Schoolâ€™s Theo Brophy-Clews.
Sale Sharks also have two players in the squad, Lymm High Schoolâ€™s outstanding scrum half, Alex Mitchell, and Kingâ€™s Chester star, George Nott.
It looks an exciting and well balanced squad and having already beaten Scotland, Wales, and France in their pre-tournament build up, they will be confident that they can achieve a fourth FIRA/AER final in a row, as Fletcher alluded to, saying:
â€œWe come into the tournament after three good performances against Scotland, Wales and France and weâ€™re looking forward to playing three more matches. Thereâ€™s a lot of talent in England â€“ the squad has some good depth and thereâ€™s real quality in all areas of the park.â€
â€œWeâ€™ll be looking for the players to perform in all of our games â€“ there is a trophy at the end of it, which weâ€™ve been fortunate enough to win the last two years, but weâ€™ll just look to go out there and perform game by game.â€
â€œPortugal are first up for us â€“ weâ€™re ranked No. 1 and theyâ€™re ranked No. 8, so itâ€™s a good chance for our guys to play with each other and, like all games, we want to go out there, be ruthless and perform well.â€
England v Portugal, Plewiska, Friday 11th April, 12.00pm
England U18 Squad:
Lewis Boyce (Prince Henry’s Grammar, Leeds Carnegie)
Owen Hills (Queen Elizabeth Wyggeston College, Leicester Tigers)
Ollie Adams (St Pauls Catholic College, London Irish)
James Fish (Trent College, Northampton Saints)
Jack Stanley (Truro College, Exeter Chiefs)
Josh Ibuanokpe (Dulwich College, Harlequins)
George Nott (Kings School Chester, Sale Sharks)
Stanley South (Whitgift School, Harlequins)
Huw Taylor (Old Swinford Hospital, Worcester Warriors)
Sam UnderhillÂ (Sir Thomas Richâ€™s School, Gloucester Rugby)
Will Safe (Hartpury College, Gloucester Rugby)
Callum Chick (Gosforth Academy, Newcastle Falcons)
Joe Batley (Hartpury College, Gloucester Rugby)
Josh Bainbridge (Prince Henryâ€™s Grammar, Leeds Carnegie)
Alex Mitchell (Lymm High School, Sale Sharks)
Jack Maunder (Blundells School, Exeter Chiefs)
Theo Brophy-Clews (Abingdon School, London Irish)
Kai Little (Hartpury College, Exeter Chiefs)
Harry Mallinder (Rugby School, Northampton Saints)
Rotimi Segun (Stowe School, Northampton Saints)
Lucas Slowik (Filton College, Bristol Rugby)
Ollie Thorley (Cheltenham College, Gloucester Rugby)
George Perkins (Oaklands College, Saracens)
Taylor Prell (Giggleswick School, Leeds Carnegie)
Joe Marchant (Peter Symonds, Harlequins)
Charlie Thacker (Leicester Grammar, Leicester Tigers)