England U18 braced for South Africa challenge, Malins shows his versatility

John Fletcher has once again shuffled his cards, ringing the changes for England U18’s third game of the U18 International Series, against South Africa U18 at 2pm in Cape Town.

England have won their opening two games, 15-7 against France and 33-8 against South Africa U18 A, but South Africa U18 are likely to present an even sterner challenge, and also arrive at this game unbeaten, having won against Wales and France.

England U18 captain Callum Chick of Gosforth Academy returns to the starting line up at number 8, meaning that Merchiston Castle’s Zach Mercer moves from eight to blindside flanker. Trent College flanker Will Allman completes the back row, the Northampton Saints Academy man has started every England U18 game this season.

The back row shuffle means that Archie White moves into the second row. The Epsom College man showing his versatility having also played at blindiside flanker this tour and number 8 in the past. He links up with Nick Isiekwe, one of just four players to have started all three games on tour.

In the front row Jake Pope starts his second game of the week, the Myerscough loosehead is joined by Chosen Hill’s Joe Mullis at hooker and Oaklands’ Billy Walker at tighthead.

The backline includes two players who are named for their third start of the tour. Sam Aspland-Robinson starts on the right wing, he started against France before coming in as a late replacements for the ill Darren Atkins on Tuesday.

The other is Max Malins, who starts at full back. It is a third position in three games for the Felsted star, Malins played inside centre aganst France, fly half against South Africa U18 A, and now starts at the back of the field. Rotimi Segun of Stowe completes the back three.

In the centres Johnny Williams of St Paul’s Catholic College retains his spot, while Max Wright of Prince Henry’s starts outside him after having to withdraw from the previous game through illness.

Blundells’ Jack Maunder returns at scrum half, with Abingdon and London Irish star Theo Brophy-Clews starting at outside half.

Speaking ahead of the game John Fletcher said:

“We were pleased with the first half against South Africa A with the players scanning really well and moving the ball to the space, scoring some great tries. 

“We dropped off in the second half and struggled to understand the depth that was needed to continue exploiting the opportunities.  For the players the key learning from the last two games is that they need to continue to scan and make good collective decisions based on the opportunities given to us by the opposition.”

“The attitude shown by the players has been excellent. The quality of the players coming from the regional academies improves year on year and I sometimes have to pinch myself that these players are still under 18 years old.”

England U18 v South Africa U18 – 14.00 BST, City Park Stadium, Cape Town

England U18 XV:

15. Max Malins (Saracens, Felsted)

14. Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins, Wellington College)

13. Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie, Prince Henry’s)

12. Johnny Williams (London Irish, St Paul’s Sunbury)   

11. Roti Segun (Unattached, Stowe School)

10. Theo Brophy Clews (London Irish, Abingdon School)

9. Jack Maunder (Exeter Chiefs, Blundells School)

1. Jake Pope (Sale Sharks, Myerscough College)

2. Joe Mullis (Gloucester Rugby, Chosen Hill)

3. Billy Walker (Saracens, Oaklands College)

4. Archie White (Harlequins, Epsom College)

5. Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, Haileybury College)         

6. Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby, Merchiston Castle School)

7. Will Allman (Northampton Saints, Trent College)

8. Callum Chick (Newcastle Falcons, Gosforth Academy, captain)


16. Curtis Langdon (London Irish, St Pauls Sunbury)

17. Billy Keast (Exeter Chiefs, Truro College)

18. Charlie Capps (Yorkshire Carnegie, Prince Henry’s)    

19. Alex Moon (Northampton Saints, Sedbergh School)

20. Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby, Millfield School)          

21. Darren Atkins (Bath Rugby, Millfield School)     

22. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, Lymm HS)

23. Dominic Morris (Saracens, New Hall School)

24. Ali Crossdale (Newcastle Falcons, Sedbergh School)

25. Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins, Trinity)   


Friday 7 August: England U18 15-7 France U18, City Park Stadium, Cape Town 

Tuesday 11 August: England U18 33-8 South Africa U18 A, Outeniqua Park, George (kick-off 12pm BST)

Saturday 15 August: England U18 v South Africa U18, City Park Stadium, Cape Town (kick-off 2pm BST)

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