U18 International Series: Wellington College’s Baxter to lead England U18 in series opener v Argentina

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Coach Logic

England have named their side for their opening game of the U18 International Series tomorrow against Argentina.


South Africa host the series, and enter both a South Africa Schools and a South Africa Schools A side, while Wales and France will also be competing, along with England and Argentina.


There are three matchday’s, Friday, Tuesday 13th, and Saturday 17th, with three games on each day. South Africa Schools A kick the series off at midday (BST) tomorrow against France, before England and Argentina meet at 1.30pm, and South Africa Schools take on Wales at 3pm, all at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch.


Head coach Jim Mallinder has named Wellington College skipper Fin Baxter as his captain for the fixture, the Quins tighthead packs down in the front row along with another previously capped player at U18 level, Phil Brantingham of RGS Newcastle. Between them is Brooksby Melton College’s Archie Vanes, who makes his England U18 debut.


Five England U18 Players to Watch


Baxter and Brantingham are two of six previously capped players at this level in the starting side, Millfield’s Ewan Richards is another, he packs down alongside Rugby’s Emeka Ilione in the second row.


Behind them is the powerful Will Trenholm at number 8, the Quins man is the fourth capped player in the pack and will be flanked by Oakham’s Kit Smith, and U18 Schools Plate winner Daniel Eckersley of Bloxham.


In the backline Beechen Cliff’s Orlando Bailey will steer things from fly half, he has plenty of experience at this level and will help guide the uncapped Sam Edwards of Brooksby Melton College and Ethan Grayson of Northampton School for Boys either side of him. Grayson has the advantage of an older brother with age grade experience and a World Cup winning father too, as well as another England U18 cap as his centre partner in the form of Cheltenham College’s Louis Hillman-Cooper.


In the back three there is room for one of Sedbergh’s all-conquering side of last year, with Oliver Melville at full back. No doubt he will be receiving plenty of messages from the likes of Tom Curtis and Will Haydon-Wood, schoolmates who were part of the England U18 set up for the 2018/19 season. Either side of him on the wings are Gosforth Academy’s Matthew Ward and St Paul’s Catholic College’s Alex Harmes.


The bench, meanwhile, is relatively inexperienced with only one U18 cap to call on in the form of Beechen Cliff hooker John Stewart, but there is plenty of exciting talent, not least a Felsted/Abingdon half back combination of Sam Bryan and Charlie Atkinson, as well as the likes of Millfield’s Will Joseph and Dean Close’s Freddie Thomas and late call-up Harry Taylor from Clifton College.


Following this game England will then take on France at 3pm on Tuesday 13th at Paarl Gymnasium before rounding off the series against South Africa Schools at 2pm on Saturday 17th at Hugenote High in Wellington.


Jim Mallinder spoke of the honour and opportunity that lay ahead for the players when speaking to www.englandrugby.com ahead of the game:


“This is an exciting time for the team, their first game together on tour and I know how much they are looking forward to it, we’ve not had a huge amount of preparation time, but we have a clear game plan and I want to see the players go out and execute it on Friday. I also want to see them enjoy themselves and show how good they are.”


“For many of these players it is their first time pulling on an England shirt and this will be a special moment for them starting their international journey. To represent your country is a huge honour and to do it in South Africa is very exciting. We’ve trained really well, in brilliant surroundings here in Stellenbosch and I’m sure they will do their country proud.”


England U18 XV v Argentina:


15 Oliver Melville (Sedbergh & Sale Sharks)

14 Matthew Ward (Gosforth Academy & Newcastle Falcons)

13 Louis Hillman-Cooper (Cheltenham College & Gloucester)

12 Ethan Grayson (Northampton School for Boys & Northampton Saints)

11 Alex Harmes (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish)

10 Orlando Bailey (Beechen Cliff & Bath)

9 Sam Ewards (Brooksby Melton College & Leicester Tigers)

1 Phil Brantingham (RGS Newcastle & Newcastle Falcons)

2 Archie Vanes (Brooksby Melton College & Leicester Tigers)

3 Fin Baxter (Wellington College & Harlequins, captain)

4 Ewan Richards (Millfield & Bath)

5 Emeka Ilione (Rugby & Leicester Tigers)

6 Kit Smith (Oakham & Leicester Tigers)

7 Daniel Eckersley (Bloxham & Wasps)

8 Will Trenholm (Cranleigh & Harlequins)

Replacements: 16 John Stewart (Beechen Cliff & Bath), 17 Tarek Haffar (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish), 18 Joe Keohane (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish), 19 Freddie Thomas (Dean Close & Gloucester), 20 Harry Taylor (Clifton College & Gloucester), 21 Sam Bryan (Felsted & Saracens), 22 Charlie Atkinson (Abingdon & Wasps), 23 Will Joseph (Millfield & Bath), 24 Oscar Beard (Cranleigh & Harlequins), 25 Michael Dykes (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish).


U18 International Series Fixtures (all times BST):


Matchday 1 – Friday 9th August, Paul Roos Gymnasium


12pm – South Africa Schools A v France

1.30pm – England v Argentina

3pm – South Africa Schools v Wales


Matchday 2 – Tuesday 13th August, Paarl Gymnasium


12pm – South Africa Schools A v Wales

1.30pm – South Africa Schools v Argentina

3pm – England v France


Matchday 3 – Saturday 17th August, Hugenote High, Wellington


11am – South Africa Schools A v Argentina

12.30pm – France v Wales

2pm – South Africa Schools v England

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