U20 6 Nations: England name side to challenge for the Grand Slam v Ireland


England have named their side to chase the U20 6 Nations Grand Slam against Ireland at Donnybrook Stadium in Dublin on Friday evening (6pm kick off).


Bath’s former Merchiston Castle number 8 Zach Mercer will once again skipper the side and he is joined in a blockbuster back row for the first time by both of Sale Sharks’ Curry twins. The two backrowers, Ben and Tom, having been swapping in and out for the U20 side, with Ben picking up the man of the match award twice, but for the first time on Friday the two former Oundle pupils will link up together for the U20s, Ben at openside, Tom on the blindside.


Saracens’ Nick Isiewke also returns to the side, the former Haileybury second row was in action for Harlequins last weekend, he is joined by clubmate Jack Nay. Last week the former Berkhamsted man was in the back row but on Friday links up with Isiekwe at lock.


In the front row Ollie Dawe remains at loosehead, as does Ciaran Knight at tighthead, but his Gloucester teammate, Henry Walker the double NatWest Cup winner with Bromsgrove, comes in for a first start at hooker.


Another Gloucester man, Harry Randall, is again at scrum half, with Saracens’ former Felsted pivot, Max Malins, against at stand off.


In the centres Worcester Warriors’ Will Butler is at 12, with Saracens’ Dom Morris at outside centre, the former New Hall man moves in from the wing thanks to the return of Harlequins’ Sam Aspland-Robinson, who is back on the left flank after injury.


His former Wellington College teammate, Tom Parton, is once again selected at full back, with Parton’s London Irish teammate, Joe Cokanasiga, completing the back three.


On the bench Jamie Blamire, Ralph Adams-Hale, and the returning Joseph Morris cover the front row, with Walker’s former Bromsgrove schoolmate, Justin Clegg, returning to cover the second row. Former Millfield captain Josh Bayliss of Bath is once again the back row cover.


Alex Mitchell and Theo Brophy-Clews once again cover the half backs, with Max Wright moving back to the bench after being drafted in late to the starting XV last week after Aspland-Robinson had to pull out.


Speaking ahead of the game, England U20 coach Ian Vass said to www.englandrugby.com:


“We have been working hard on making sure the players concentrate on how they perform and don’t focus too much on the occasion.  It’s important we prepare ourselves mentally and physically like we have previously in the tournament and hopefully the result will take care of itself.”


“Scotland was a stern test for us but we came through it positively and we know facing Ireland on St Patrick’s Day will be another massive challenge.”


Ireland U20 v England U20 – Friday 17th March, 6pm kick off, Donnybrook Stadium, Dublin – Live on Sky Sports Mix


England U20 XV

15 Tom Parton (London Irish), 14 Joe Cokanasiga (London Irish), 13 Dominic Morris (Saracens), 12 Will Butler (Worcester Warriors), 11 Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins), 10 Max Malins (Saracens), 9 Harry Randall (Gloucester), 1 Ollie Dawe (Bristol), 2 Henry Walker (Gloucester), 3 Ciaran Knight (Gloucester), 4 Jack Nay (Saracens), 5 Nick Isiekwe (Saracens), 6 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), 7 Ben Curry (Sale Sharks), 8 Zach Mercer (Bath, captain).

Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons), 17 Ralph Adams-Hale (Saracens), 18 Joseph Morris (Worcester Warriors), 19 Justin Clegg (Worcester Warriors), 20 Josh Bayliss (Bath), 21 Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints), 22 Theo Brophy Clews (London Irish), 23 Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie).

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