The England U20 squad for the upcoming 6 Nations campaign has been revealed by Head Coach John Callard.
England finished second in the Six Nations last year, the first time for three years that they had not won the competition, but went on to lift the Junior World Championship for the second season in a row.
Seven of the squad that won that JWC remain in the squad for the forthcoming campaign and will likely form the nucleus of this side. Nick Tompkins, Howard Packman, and Aaron Morris all played big roles in the backline, while in the pack Charlie Ewels and James Chisholm were key in the pack alongside Yorkshire Carnegie pair Jack Walker and Paul Hill.
London Irishâ€™s Tom Fowlie was the 8th man in the squad to be part of that team, however an unfortunate injury meant that he had to head home early back in June, while Exeter Chiefâ€™s scrum half Stuart Townsend was not part of the official squad but did travel as an analyst, so will bring plenty to the table for this 6 Nations campaign.
Callard is keen to add a degree of separation from this side to last yearâ€™s side though, although he was keen to point to the experience that the likes of Ewels can bring, saying:
â€œWeâ€™re a new team, and while England U20 as a name are current World Champions, this particular group havenâ€™t won anything.â€
â€œThe guys from last year will want to build on that. They have a good foundation, and their challenge now is to build new relationships and new friendships so that they have the trust in each other to perform well on the pitch.Â â€œ
â€œWeâ€™ll be expecting them to lead from the front â€“ theyâ€™re a bit older and more experienced. Charlie Ewels for example, heâ€™s been playing first team rugby for Bath and has come up against France internationals Louis Picamoles, Imanol Harinordoquy and Thierry Dusautoir â€“ that kind of experience is second to none and will stand us in good stead.â€
The U20s will have been buoyed in recent days by the news that Maro Itoje, who so often captained that JWC winning side, has been named in the England Saxons squad â€“ a brilliant carrot for this current crop, showing them how close they are to breaking into the top end of English rugby.
Callard too was keen to point out that producing England players was the point of the U20s, saying:
â€œWe need to keep our evolution and development moving forward and we want to be pushing boundaries and producing players for the England senior side. There is a real unity between the clubs and ourselves â€“ weâ€™re all striving towards the same goal and itâ€™s great to be able to get the players together. But as well as the technical aspects, itâ€™s about them developing them as a group and the culture within that.â€
Joining Paul Hill and Jack Walker (who captained Yorkshire Carnegie at just 18 years old recently) in the front row mix is Lewis Boyce, and the trio will be hoping to combine once again, forming an all Yorkshire Carnegie front row as they occasionally did for England U18 in previous years.
A fourth Yorkshire Carnegie representative, Taylor Prell, formerly of Giggleswick School, is also in the squad, having starred for England U18 last year. He is joined by a number of other stars from their FIRA/AER winning campaign, including ex Rugby School captain Harry Mallinder, former Oaklands College star George Perkins, Harlequins and ex Peter Symondsâ€™ fly half Joe Marchant, Gloucesterâ€™s Joe Batley, and the former Old Swinford Hospital star, Huw Taylor.
The odd quick of the discrepancy between age limits in international rugby and school rugby means that there are players, such as Lewis Ludlum and Max Clark, who fell outside of either window last year, hence so many players who featured neither in FIRA/AER or the JWC last year, much as Wellington Collegeâ€™s Conor Dolan will this year.
The England U20 campaign begins on the 7th February against Wales, whom they beat 67-7 in last yearâ€™s campaign. With such an array of recent school leavers in the squad, there is sure to be plenty of interest in the U20 6 Nations campaign from Fifteen Rugby readers, and with three of Englandâ€™s fixtures live on Sky Sports, there will be plenty of opportunity to follow them live as well as in print here at www.fifteenrugby.com
England U20 Six Nations Squad:
Seb Adeniran-Olule (Harlequins)
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby)
Jake Farnworth (Leicester Tigers)
Joe Batley (Gloucester Rugby)
Charlie Beckett (Leicester Tigers)
Lewis Boyce (Yorkshire Carnegie)
James Chisholm (Harlequins)
Ellis Genge (Bristol Rugby)
Paul Hill (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Jack Innard (Exeter Chiefs)
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints)
Will Owen (Leicester Tigers)
Ciaran Parker (Sale Sharks)
Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs)
Huw Taylor (Worcester Warriors)
Kieran Treadwell (Harlequins)
Jack Walker (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Will Witty (Newcastle Falcons)
Max Clark (Bath Rugby)
Tom Fowlie (London Irish)
Rory Jennings (Bath Rugby)
Harry Mallinder (Northampton Saints)
Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
James Mitchell (Sale Sharks)
Aaron Morris (Saracens)
Tom Morton (Sale Sharks)
Piers O’Conor (Wasps)
Howard Packman (Northampton Saints)
George Perkins (Saracens)
Taylor Prell (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Nick Tompkins (Saracens)
Stuart Townsend (Exeter Chiefs)
England U20 6 Nations Schedule:
Wales U20 v England U20 â€“ Saturday 7th February, Colwyn Bay 19.30
England U20 v Italy U20 â€“ Friday 14th February, Plymouth Albion 19.45, Live on Sky Sports
Friday, February 27Â
Ireland U20 v England U20 â€“ Friday 27th February, Venue & KO TBC
England U20 v Scotland U20 â€“ Friday 13th March, Darlington Mowden Park, 17.30, Live on Sky Sports
Friday, March 20Â
England U20 v France U20 â€“ Friday 20th March, Brighton American Express Community Stadium, 19.55, Live on Sky Sports