England have named their side for Monday’s crucial World Rugby U20 Championship semi final against South Africa.
After a poor U20 RBS 6 Nations campaign, where England only beat Italy, the young men in white have been sensational as the home side in Manchester, inflicting heavy defeats on Scotland and Italy, before coming from behind last week to beat Australia 17-13 to top the group and qualify as the top seeds for the semi finals.
That pits them against South Africa, the lowest seeds after they qualified as the best second placed side in the pool stages, having beaten Japan and France but lost to Argentina on the opening day.
The winner will play either Ireland or Argentina in the final on Saturday, with the loser playing the other loser in the 3rd place play-off beforehand.
Head Coach Martin Haag has made six changes to the side that beat Australia on Wednesday, bringing in former Felsted star Max Malins at full back in place of Darren Atkins.
Sam Aspland-Robinson is another change in the back three, the former Wellington wing comes in on the right hand side for George Perkins, Max Green, meanwhile, returns to the starting fifteen in place of Harry Randall at scrum half. Johnny Williams and Joe Marchant continue their centre partnership with Harry Mallinder at fly half and Matt Gallagher on the left wing.
Saracens’ Billy Walker comes in for Will Stuart at tighthead, with Jack Singleton coming in at hooker in place of injured skipper Jack Walker. Lewis Boyce starts at loosehead.
Stan South and Huw Taylor keep their place in the engine room, with George Nott and Will Evans again selected on the flanks, Callum Chick is the only other change in the forwards, coming back into the side at number 8 for Zach Mercer.
Speaking to www.englandrugby.com ahead of the game, Martin Haag said:
“Everyone is very excited in the camp, we set out our goals at the start of the tournament and we are achieving those goals, the challenge for us now is to keep improving and we are excited about the opportunity to play South Africa in a home semi-final. The players have been absolutely superb and we need to make sure we come out the other side with a victory.”
Speaking of Walker’s injury, and the newly drafted in Charlie Piper of Harlequins, Haag said:
“It’s with great disappointment that Jack will not feature in the semi-final, Jack has been an exemplary leader, bringing the team together and motivating the players to be the best that they can be, both on and off the pitch. That’s something he should be very proud of. We have great confidence in Charlie, who now joins the squad. Charlie narrowly missed out on taking part in the Six Nations due to injury but was involved in the pre-tournament training camp in Newcastle. He will benefit from getting an opportunity to gain experience from playing at this level.”
“There are 28 guys in the squad who have trained brilliantly so to leave anyone out is tough, I’ve been delighted with how everyone has had game time and gelled together in such a short space of time.”
Being the home side, England can expect plenty of support, something that Haag hoped would add to his players’ motivation:
“The players are hugely motivated about playing in a home semi-final which is a once in a life-time opportunity for them at this level, in all the matches we have played the support for us has been huge, the fans have been absolutely superb. We want to make that stadium a fortress for us and there is no better feeling for those players standing on that pitch and singing the national anthem with a full stadium behind them.”
England U20 v South Africa U20 – Monday, 19.45, Manchester City Academy Stadium – Live on Sky Sports
England U20 XV
15 Max Malins (Saracens)
14 Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins)
13 Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
12 Johnny Williams (London Irish)
11 Matt Gallagher (Saracens)
10 Harry Mallinder – Captain (Northampton Saints)
9 Max Green (Yorkshire Carnegie)
1 Lewis Boyce (Yorkshire Carnegie)
2 Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors)
3 Billy Walker (Saracens)
4 Stan South (Harlequins)
5 Huw Taylor (Worcester Warriors)
6 George Nott (Sale Sharks)
7 Will Evans (Leicester Tigers)
8 Callum Chick (Newcastle Falcons)
16 Charlie Piper (Harlequins)
17 Tom West (Wasps)
18 Will Stuart (Wasps)
19 Andrew Kitchener (Worcester Warriors)
20 Jack Willis (Wasps)
21 Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby)
22 Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie)
23 Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby)
World Rugby U20 Championship Fixtures:
Monday 20th June
Ireland v Argentina – Monday 17.30, Manchester City Academy Stadium
England v South Africa – Monday 19.45, Manchester City Academy Stadium
5th-8th Semi Finals
New Zealand v Wales – Monday, 15.15, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Scotland v Australia – Monday, 19.45, AJ Bell
9th-12th Semi Finals
Georgia v Italy v 11th – Monday, 15.15, AJ Bell
France v Japan – Monday, 17.30, AJ Bell
Saturday 25th June – Finals Day
|World Rugby U20 Championship – Pool A Final Standings|
|World Rugby U20 Championship – Pool B Final Standings|
|World Rugby U20 Championship – Pool C Final Standings|