England have named their 26-man men’s squad for the forthcoming U18 Six Nations Festival in Dublin this April.
England will play against France, Italy, and Ireland at the U18 Six Nations Festival, with all games being hosted at Energia Park across three matchdays.
Games will take place on Saturday 8th April, Wednesday 12th April, and Sunday 16th April, with every player in the 26-man squad guaranteed a start.
The eligibility criteria across the six different countries mean that players must be born after 1st January 2005 to qualify, so Head Coach Jonathan Pendlebury’s squad has significant differences to the squads involved in recent fixtures against Wales and France.
Thirteen of the fourteen Premiership Rugby Academies are represented, Gloucester being the only side not to have a play in the 26-man group, which consists of 14 forwards and 12 backs.
Fifteen of the twenty-six have been involved in the recent games against France and Wales, where England lost narrowly to France and had a good victory over Wales. Northampton Saints’ Henry Pollock, the Stowe flanker, skippered the side in those games, as he did on the summer tour of South Africa, and will likely do so again in Dublin.
Only one other player in the squad also started both games against Wales and France, Trinity and Harlequins full back Conor Byrne. Byrne is one of a remarkable three Trinity players in the squad, both also from Harlequins, with scrum half Lucas Friday and fly half Josh Bellamy joining him. Pollock is also joined by a schoolmate in fellow Northampton Saint Archie McParland, who started at scrum half against Wales last week.
Harrow are the only other school with more than one pupil represented in the squad. Converted hooker Kepu Tuipulotu is included, the star London Irishman started against France and came of the bench against Wales. The other Harrow man included is also from London Irish and is a real boon for England to have available as Ireland were also keen, centre/wing Charlie Griffin. There is a third London Irish player in the squad and, like Tuipulotu, he started one and came off the bench in the other of the two recent internationals, Bishop Wand loosehead Ralph McEachran.
All six front rowers in the squad are part of that 15-player contingent that played in the recent games, joining Tuipulotu and McEachran are Clifton College and Bristol Bears loosehead Louie Trevett, Barnard Castle and Newcastle Falcons hooker Jacob Oliver, and the two tightheads, Bath and Beechen Cliff’s Billy Sela, and Bishop Burton College’s Tye Raymont.
Raymont is one of a remarkable four Yorkshire Academy players in the squad, with St Peter’s York centre Toby Baker, Woodhouse Grove full back Ned McCormack, and Heckmondwicke Grammar second row Tom Burrow, who featured against France and Wales, making Yorkshire Academy the most represented Academy.
Joining Burrow in the second row contingent is Finborough and Saracens star Junior Kpoku, who was involved against France, along with Exeter Chiefs and Truro College lock Oscar Beckerleg.
Alongside Pollock among the back row options are two more players that featured in the last few week’s, Midlands West and Ellesmere College number 8 Will Owen and Midlands Central and Berkhamsted flanker Reuben Logan, whose family ties mean that Wales and particularly Scotland will surely be keeping a keen eye on his performances too. Joining those three are two further back row options, Ladybridge and Sale Sharks number 8 Jack Lightbown, and abrasive Millfield back rower Jack Timmins of Bath.
The backs options have a little less experience in recent weeks than the forwards, only the aforementioned McParland, Sale Sharks and Kirkham Grammar School fly half Ollie Davies, and Sedbergh skipper Ben Redshaw, who has played both at centre and full back for Sedbergh, Newcastle Falcons, and England, have featured in the last few weeks.
McParland and Friday are the two scrum half options, while joining Davies and Bellamy in the frontline fly half ranks is Nottingham High School and Leicester Tigers pivot Tom Threlfall.
Joining Baker, Griffin, and Redshaw in the centres is Midlands Central’s Charlie Myall of City of Oxford College, while linking up with McCormack and Byrne in the back field is Saracens and St Albans star Jack Bracken, who should know plenty about this environment from his father and brother’s experiences.
It will be first competitive games for nine of the squad in an England U18 shirt, Beckerleg, Timmins, and Lightbown in the pack, and in the backline Friday, Bellamy, Baker, Griffin, Myall, Bracken, and McCormack.
Meanwhile ten of the squad have been involved since the South Africa tour in the summer, Burrow, Oliver, Raymond, Sela, Trevett, Owen, and, as mentioned, Pollock in the pack, and Byrne, McParland, and Redshaw in the backs. Indeed those three have been involved since the 2021/22 campaign.
Speaking of the squad announcement, Pendlebury said: “We’re very excited about the opportunity for the lads to play in the Under-18 Men’s Six Nations Festival, a prestigious tournament that emulates the international environment they hope to one day play in as part of the senior England team.
“We’ve had a pair of great hit-outs in March against Wales and France, two games that tested them and gave them invaluable experience and competition in their development journey this season. Some of the squad that took part in these fixtures are still eligible and able to take these experiences further into the Six Nations Festival in Dublin.
“This a special selection, and one the players can share with their families, schools, junior and community rugby clubs, and academies that helped put them in the frame to be selected.”
England U18 Squad for 2023 Six Nations Festival
Oscar Beckerleg (Exeter Chiefs, Truro College)
Tom Burrow (Yorkshire Academy, Heckmondwicke GS)
Junior Kpoku (Saracens, Finborough)
Jack Lightbown (Sale Sharks, Ladybridge)
Reuben Logan (Midlands Central, Berkhamsted)
Ralph McEachran (London Irish, Bishop Wand)
Jacob Oliver (Newcastle Falcons, Barnard Castle)
Will Owen (Midlands West, Ellesmere College)
Henry Pollock (Northampton Saints, Stowe)
Tye Raymont (Yorkshire Academy, Bishop Burton College)
Billy Sela (Bath, Beechen Cliff)
George Timmins (Bath, Millfield)
Louie Trevett (Bristol Bears, Clifton College)
Kepueli Tuipulotu (London Irish, Harrow)
Toby Baker (Yorkshire Academy, St Peter’s York)
Josh Bellamy (Harlequins, Trinity)
Jack Bracken (Saracens, St Albans)
Conor Byrne (Harlequins, Trinity)
Ollie Davies (Sale Sharks, Kirkham GS)
Lucas Friday (Harlequins, Trinity)
Charlie Griffin (London Irish, Harrow)
Ned McCormack (Yorkshire Academy, Woodhouse Grove)
Archie McParland (Northampton Saints, Stowe)
Charlie Myall (Midlands Central, City of Oxford College)
Ben Redshaw (Newcastle Falcons, Sedbergh)
Tom Threlfall (Leicester Tigers, Nottingham HS)
U18 Men’s Six Nations Festival Fixtures
Matchday 1 – Saturday 8th April
Wales v Italy – 1pm
Ireland v Scotland – 3.15pm
England v France – 5.30pm
Matchday 2 – Wednesday 12th April
France v Scotland – 1pm
Italy v England – 3.15pm
Wales v Ireland – 5.30pm
Matchday 3 – Sunday 16th April
Scotland v Wales 12pm
France v Italy – 2.15pm
Ireland v England – 4.30pm