England have made 8 changes to the side that beat Scotland ahead of Tuesday’s World Rugby U20 Championship semi final against South Africa.
The game, kicking off at 6pm (BST) in Narbonne, also sees two positional changes for England as former Rugby School star Tom Hardwick moves from ten to inside centre and Jordan Olowofela, a real eye-catcher this tournament, moves from outside centre to the left wing.
The Group B table toppers bring back Harlequins star Marcus Smith at outside half, the former Brighton College man partners Ben White, the ex-Denstone College man keeps his place at scrum half.
Joining Hardwick in the centres is Fraser Dingwall, the former Bedford School skipper returns after missing the Scotland game. Former Trinity captain Gabriel Ibitoye keeps his place on the right wing, while Tom Parton comes back in at full back after starting the last game on the bench.
The former Wellington College man is joined in the starting lineup by ex schoolmate and current London Irish teammate Josh Basham. Basham lines up at number 8 after starting the last one on the bench. Also coming in is the squad captain Ben Curry. The former Oundle star steps up to the 7 shirt after a brief rest on the bench last time out. Ted Hill completes the back row, he keeps his number 6 shirt from the last game.
In the second row Joel Kpoku starts again, it is a remarkable fourth start in a row at the tournament for the Saracens man, and as in the last game he is partnered by James Scott of Worcester Warriors.
Up front Alex Seville and Joe Heyes return to the prop positions after starting the previous game on the bench, while Henry Walker returns to the starting shirt after missing the last game.
The bench looks braced for impact, with Ciaran Knight, Ehren Painter, Tom Willis, Aaron Hinkley, James Grayson, and Will Butler no doubt eager to get on after starting the last game. Gabriel Oghre and Rory Brand again start from the bench and will look to make a big impact.
Should England win, it will be their sixth final in a row and a chance to add to titles in 2013, 2014, and 2016. They will face the winner of New Zealand v France in the final or the loser in the third place play off on Sunday.
Speaking ahead of the game, Head Coach Steve Bates said:
“We’re into the knockout stages of the competition now so we need to raise the tempo of our game and be more accurate as well as play at a more intense pace, at this stage of the competition the stakes are high and we need to be able to play under that type of pressure while also being able to raise our game.”
“We’ve been able to rotate the squad quite nicely throughout the tournament, we’ve got two Premiership players coming back into the side who didn’t play in our final pool game so they will be fresh and will add a great deal to the team.”
“My message to the players on Tuesday will be a simple one, these opportunities don’t come around too often, we are in the semi-final of a wonderful competition, playing southern hemisphere opposition and I want them to show their class. The key thing is not to be overawed by the occasion, but to go out there and attack them.”
England U20 v South Africa U20 – Semi Final – Tuesday, 8pm (BST), Perpignan. Live on www.worldrugby.org
England U20 XV:
15 Tom Parton (London Irish)
14 Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
13 Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints)
12 Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers)
11 Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers)
10 Marcus Smith (Harlequins)
9 Ben White (Leicester Tigers)
1 Alex Seville (Gloucester)
2 Henry Walker (Gloucester)
3 Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers)
4 Joel Kpoku (Saracens)
5 James Scott (Worcester Warriors)
6 Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)
7 Ben Curry (Sale Sharks, captain)
8 Josh Basham (London Irish)
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre (Wasps), 17 Ciaran Knight (Gloucester), 18 Ehren Painter (Northampton Saints), 19 Tom Willis (Wasps), 20. Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester), 21 Rory Brand (London Irish), 22 James Grayson (Northampton Saints), 23 Will Butler (Worcester Warriors).
World Rugby U20 Championship Results:
Wales 18-17 Japan
New Zealand 27-18 Australia
Italy 30-26 Argentina
England 35-10 Scotland
Ireland 20-24 Georgia
South Africa 29-46 France
Australia 54-19 Japan
New Zealand 42-10 Wales
Argentina 29-13 Scotland
England 43-5 Italy
France 24-12 Georgia
South Africa 30-17 Ireland
New Zealand 67-0 Japan
Wales 26-21 Australia
England 39-18 Argentina
Italy 27-26 Scotland
France 26-24 Ireland
South Africa 33-27 Georgia
World Rugby U20 Championship Fixtures (All times BST):
Semi Finals – Tuesday 12th June
2nd New Zealand v 3rd France – 6pm, Narbonne
1st England v 4th South Africa – 8pm, Perpignan
6th Wales v 7th Argentina – 1pm, Narbonne
5th Italy v 8th Australia – 3.30pm, Narbonne
10th Ireland v 11th Scotland – 3pm, Perpignan
9th Georgia v 12th Japan – 5.30pm, Perpignan
Finals – Sunday 17th June
11th Place Play Off – 10am, Beziers
9th Place Play Off – 12.30pm, Beziers
5th Place Play Off – 1pm, Beziers
7th Place Play Off – 3pm, Beziers
3rd Place Play Off – 3.30pm, Beziers
Final – 6pm, Beziers