This Saturday England and Italy U19s go head to head at the Payanini Centre in Verona, kicking off at 2pm.
The two sides meet after a busy campaign at U18 and U20 level, with both sides having competed in the recent U18 Six Nations Festival and the U20 Six Nations. Indeed in the U20 Six Nations the two sides met, with Italy winning that one 6-0, a first ever victory for Italy over England at that level.
It meant that Italy finished with a superior record to England, winning three to England’s two, but England finished ahead in the table, level on points but ahead on points difference.
5 of that Italy side will play on Saturday, fly half Nicolo Teneggi, centre Dewi Passarella and his partner Francois Carlo Mey, who was at full back that day, openside Carlos Lizardo Berlese, and replacement prop Matteo Bernardinello, who fulfilled that same role in the U20s.
England also have some players that were involved in that game, Wasps’ Alfie Bell was in the second row for the U20s and is so again for the U19s on Saturday, while Louie Johnson, the former Sedbergh School fly half now at Newcastle Falcons, was on the bench and is again tomorrow. The big news is that Greg Fisilau, who was on the bench for the U20s is starting at number 8 for England U19 and will also captain the side. Head Coach Alan Dickens alluded to those three in his pre-game comments, saying:
“We’re looking forward to the game against Italy tomorrow. They were tough opposition in the U20 Six Nations and expect them to field an equally challenging side at U19 level. Several of the players – Alfie Bell, Greg Fisilau and Louie Johnson – were part of the team that faced Italy in the Six Nations and are sharing learnings from that experience with the group. Although we’ve had only a short time in camp this week to prepare, the lads have trained hard and there’s been great energy which will be carried right through to match day.”
Being an U19 game, Dickens has also included a few U18s who were too old to be eligible for the recent U18 Six Nations Festival, which had a 1st January cut off rather than 1st September. Millfield and Bath star Sam Harris shows his versatility, often a fly half or centre, he is at full back on Saturday. Also in the starting side is Berkhamsted’s Tobias Elliott, the Saracens U18 star.
The bench sees two further U18s included, Saracens U18 and St Albans star Charlie Bracken, who is, like his dad, a scrum half, and Leicester Tigers U18 and Trent College back rower Simon Koroiyadi.
Elsewhere the side is a hive of former school stars, the half back are Sale Sharks’ Nye Thomas and London Irish’s Monty Bradbury, whose former Wellington College teammate Cassius Cleaves makes up and all-Harlequins wing pairing along with Conor Oresanya. Wasps Rekeiti Ma’asi-White is alongside Elliott in the centres.
Up front joining Fisilau in the back row are Bath flankers Mackenzie Graham and Josh Dingley, while alongside Bell in the second row is Saracens’ Kaden Pearce-Paul. The front row sees Wasps’ Archie McArthur at loosehead, Leicester Tigers’ Tim Hoyt at tighthead, and Bath’s Jasper Spandler at hooker.
Joining Koroiyadi, Bracken, and Johnson on an eleven man bench are Harlequins’ Nathan Jibulu, Bristol Bears’ Tom Sims, Bath’s Archie Maggs, Gloucester’s James Pollard, and Leicester Tigers’ Rob Carmichael as forward options, alongside Jed Walsh of Leicester Tigers, Exeter Chiefs’ Charlie McCaig, and London Irish’s Jack Walsh as backline options.
England U19 XV vs Italy (Saturday, 2pm BST, Verona)
15 Sam Harris (Bath Rugby & Millfield)
14 Conor Oresanya (Harlequins)
13 Tobias Elliott (Saracens & Berkhamsted)
12 Rekeiti Ma’asi-White (Wasps)
11 Cassius Cleaves (Harlequins)
10 Monty Bradbury (London Irish)
9 Nye Thomas (Sale Sharks)
1 Archie McArthur (Wasps)
2 Jasper Spandler (Bath Rugby)
3 Tim Hoyt (Leicester Tigers)
4 Kaden Pearce-Paul (Saracens)
5 Alfie Bell (Wasps)
6 Mackenzie Graham (Bath Rugby)
7 Josh Dingley (Bath Rugby)
8 Greg Fisilau (Wasps, captain)
16 Nathan Jibulu (Harlequins)
17 Tom Sims (Bristol Bears)
18 Archie Maggs (Bath Rugby)
19 James Pollard (Gloucester Rugby)
20 Rob Carmichael (Leicester Tigers)
21 Simon Koroiyadi (Leicester Tigers & Trent College)
22 Charlie Bracken (Saracens & St Albans)
23 Jed Walsh (Leicester Tigers)
24 Charlie McCaig (Exeter Chiefs)
25 Jack Walsh (London Irish)
26 Louie Johnson (Newcastle Falcons)
Italy U19 XV:
15 Leonardo Mazzone (Verona Rugby)
14 Emanuele Tani (Unione Rugby Capitolina)
13 Francois Carlo Mey (Rugby Colorno) 15
12 Dewi Passarella (Ruggers Tarvisium) 13
11 Filippo Bozzoni (Transvecta Calviano)
10 Nicolo Teneggi (Valorugby Emilia) 10
9 Sebastiano (Rugby Club Toulonnais)
1 Riccardo Bartolini (Florentia Rugby)
2 Giovanni Quattrini (Rugby Milano)
3 Alex Valentino Artuso (Benetton Rugby)
4 Alex Mattioli (HBS Colorno)
5 Pietro Turrisi (Wasps)
6 Jacopo Barbi (Femi-CZ Rovigo)
7 Carlos Lizardo Berlese (Ruggers Tarvisium) 7
8 Matteo Rubinato (Benetton Rugby)
16 Christian Calabro (SS Lazio Rugby 1927)
17 Samuele Taddei (Frascati Rugby Club 2015)
18 Matteo Bernardinello (Petrarca Rugby) 18
19 Alessandro Filoni (Unione Rugby Capitolina)
20 Enrico Pontarini (Rugby Udine Union)
21 Michele Artusio (Pesaro Rugby)
22 Federico Cantini (Mascalzoni del Canale Rugby)
23 Alessandro Gesi (Livorno Rugby)
25 Fabio Ruaro (Rugby Parma 1931)
26 Filippo Lavorenti (Livorno Rugby)