The England U20 squad for June’s World Rugby U20 Championships in Manchester has been announced.
New Head Coach Martin Haag has named a 28-man squad for the tournament, which runs from the 7th to the 25th June, the squad contains 16 forwards and 12 backs.
Haag has named an experienced side, with a number of players having seen regular Aviva Premiership action this season, not least former Abingdon fly half Theo Brophy-Clews, who has been playing for London Irish along with star centre Johnny Williams, who is also selected, as is ex-Rugby fly half/centre, Harry Mallinder, who has enjoyed a tremendous form for Nothampton Saints and is nominated for the Land Rover Discovery of the Season award.
Joe Marchant of Harlequins has also seen plenty of 1st XV action, as has Ollie Thorley at Gloucester and Will Evans at Leicester Tigers.
There are also four Yorkshire Carnegie players in the squad who have all become regulars in the Championship, former Woodhosue Grove pupil Max Green at scrum half, and forwards Josh Bainbridge, Lewis Boyce, and Jack Walker. Walker will be playing in his third U20 Championship, and was part of the 2014 winning squad.
Bainbridge and Saracens’ wing George Perkins also have U20 Championship experience, having been part of last year’s push to the final.
Perkins is joined by three Saracens teammates in the squad, Billy Walker in the forwards, as well as former Whitgift full back/wing Matt Gallagher, and versatile ex Felsted back, Max Malins.
Also competing for places in the back three are former Wellington College star Sam Aspland-Robinson, now at Harlequins, and Bath’s former Millfield supremo, Darren Atkins. Harry Randall of Hartpury College and Gloucester completes the twelve backs and is a player to keep an eye on, Randall was playing for England U18 earlier this season, so his elevation to this more senior side is a real sign of the faith that the coaches have in him.
Newcastle Falcons’ Callum Chick, who took over the captaincy of the U20 side in the 6 Nations after Walker dropped out through injury, is included in the back, he is the only Falcon in the squad. In contrast, both Wasps and Worcester Warriors have three players each in the forwards, Wasps see Will Stuart, Tom West, and Jack Willis in the squad, while Worcester Warriors have Andrew Kitchener, Jack Singleton, and rising star Huw Taylor in the pack.
Despite their outstanding Academy set up, Billy Keast is the only Exeter Chief in the squad, as is George Nott for Sale Sharks. Former Whitgift star Stan South joins his clubmate Joe Marchant in the squad, with Zach Mercer the second Bath man in the squad along with Atkins.
The squad will first get together on the 22nd May for a week long training camp in Newcastle as they prepare for their opening game on 7th June against Italy. Following that are their next two group games, against Scotland on 11th June and Australia on the 15th, before the first round of knock out games on Monday 20th June and the World Rugby U20 Championship finals day on Saturday 25th June.
Speaking at the squad announcement to www.englandrugby.com, Haag said:
“This group will only play together for this tournament. It will be a proud moment when they pull on the white jersey and run out in front of family and friends in a home World Cup, it’s about driving our own standards and our own identity and in that camp we need to set the tone for how we want to play, when we go on that training park we will be short and sharp and play with high intensity. We need to get the learning and education in so that we’re in good shape and also have the right environment heading into the tournament.”
“The format of the tournament means you can’t expect anyone to play 80 minutes of every single game, we’ve picked a strong squad and we’re really looking forward to seeing all these guys in action. Players will, of course, be picked on form but we will be managing workload and how we ensure mental and physical recovery between games.”
England World U20 Championship Squad:
Josh Bainbridge (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Lewis Boyce (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Callum Chick (Newcastle Falcons)
Will Evans (Leicester Tigers)
Billy Keast (Exeter Chiefs)
Andrew Kitchener (Worcester Warriors)
Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby)
George Nott (Sale Sharks)
Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors)
Stan South (Harlequins)
Will Stuart (Wasps)
Huw Taylor (Worcester Warriors)
Billy Walker (Saracens)
Jack Walker (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Tom West (Wasps)
Jack Willis (Wasps)
Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins)
Darren Atkins (Bath Rugby)
Theo Brophy-Clews (London Irish)
Matt Gallagher (Saracens)
Max Green (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Max Malins (Saracens)
Harry Mallinder (Northampton Saints)
Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
George Perkins (Saracens)
Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby)
Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby)
Johnny Williams (London Irish)
England U20 Fixtures:
England v Italy (Tuesday 7 June) KO 19:45, Manchester City Academy Stadium
England v Scotland (Saturday 11 June) KO 18:00, Manchester City Academy Stadium
England v Australia (Wednesday 15 June) KO 19:45 AJ Bell Stadium
Semi-finals (Monday 20 June)
Finals (Saturday 25 June)