England have named their squad for the forthcoming U20 6 Nations campaign.
Last year England had their poorest result ever in the U20 6 Nations as they sunk to a lowly 5th place, beating only Italy. However with Martin Haag on board as Head Coach for the World Championships in Manchester in June, they rallied, winning the title, their third in four years.
Now though Haag has departed, and England face another tricky campaign. However the players selected and, perhaps just as significantly, those unavailable for selection, suggest that this squad has every chance of going a very long way.
Much like the senior set up, England U20 have a 32-man Elite Player Squad, which was announced back in 2016. From that original squad, four changes have been made.
Former Wellington College full back, now at London Irish, Sale Sharks’ Jake Pope, and Gloucester’s Alex Sevills come in for Yorkshire Carnegie’s Charlie Capps and the Saracens due of Ralph Adams-Hale and Ali Crossdale, all as injury replacements. The fourth change sees New Hall leaver, Saracens’ Dominic Morris, replace Sale Sharks’ Paolo Odogwu, whose 1st XV commitments mean he is unlikely to be available for much of the championship.
Ten players in the squad have previous experience at U20 level, and the whole squad met at Loughborough University for a pre-6 Nations training camp. The strength of the squad is further highlighted by the fact that five of the players have featured in the Aviva Premiership so far this season. Sale Sharks have given a lot of game time to their back row twins Ben and Tom Curry, who left Oundle School back in June, and both are in the squad. Zach Mercer has also been integral for his club side, Bath, and was part of the side that world the World Championships back in June. Jack Maunder, a former England U18 skipper, has been on form for Exeter Chiefs too, and has skippered their A League side.
Worcester Warriors fans will have seen the remarkable rise of former Warwick Schools star Jamie Shillcock, who could feature at scrum half, fly half, or full back for the U20 side. There are also some incredibly young players in the squad, such as Shillcock’s clubmate Ted Hill, who is just 17 and still studying at Worcester 6th form College.
All of those with Premiership experience could yet miss games due to those first team commitments, as could the London Irish trio of Theo Brophy-Clews, Joe Cokanasiga, and Tom Parton, who have all seen plenty of action for the Championship leaders.
It is therefore possible that there could be changes ahead of the opening game of the campaign, against France at Sandy Park on Saturday 4th February (12.00pm k.o.), however either way this is a very strong squad indeed.
Following that game they travel to Wales on Friday 10th February at Eirias Park (7.15pm), before they host Italy at Darlington Mowden Park on Friday 24th (7.45pm). On Saturday 11th March England play their final home game, at Franklin’s Gardens against Scotland (6.15pm), ahead of the final game of the championships away at Ireland on St Patrick’s Day, Friday 17th March, at Donnybrook (6.00pm).
England U20 6 Nations Squad:
Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins), Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons), Theo Brophy Clews (London Irish), Will Butler (Worcester Warriors), Josh Caulfield (Exeter Chiefs), Justin Clegg (Worcester Warriors), Joe Cokanasiga (London Irish), Ben Curry (Sale Sharks), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Ollie Dawe (Bristol Rugby), Ben Earl (Saracens), Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins), Nick Isiekwe (Saracens), Ciaran Knight (Gloucester Rugby), Curtis Langdon (Sale Sharks), Max Malins (Saracens), Jack Maunder (Exeter Chiefs), Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby), Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints), Dominic Morris (Saracens), Joseph Morris (Worcester Warriors), Joe Mullis (Gloucester Rugby), Jack Nay (Saracens), Tom Parton (London Irish), Jake Pope (Sale Sharks), Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby), Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby), Jamie Shillcock (Worcester Warriors), Jacob Umaga (Wasps), Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie), Zac Xiourouppa (Worcester Warriors).
England U20 6 Nations Fixtures (all home games live on Sky Sports):
England v France: Saturday 4th February – Sandy Park, Exeter (KO 12:00pm)
Wales v England: Friday 10th February – Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay (KO 7:15pm)
England v Italy: Friday 24th February – Darlington Mowden Park (KO 7:45pm)
England v Scotland: Saturday 11th March – Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton (KO 6:15pm)
Ireland v England: Friday 17th March – Donnybrook Stadium, (KO 6:00pm)