England have named their Men’s U20 Squad for a two-Test tour of Georgia ahead of the forthcoming World Rugby U20 Championships in South Africa next month.
The squad announcement comes just a day after Mark Mapletoft was promoted from his role with the U18 squad to take charge of the U20s, many of the players in which he is familiar with from his former role are the England U18 assistant, a role he had been in since 2020 following previous stints with Harlequins and as the National Academy Coach for the RFU.
Mapletoft, the form Gloucester, Harlequins, and London Irish fly half/full back, who also won a Test cap for England in 1997, takes over from previous U20 Head Coach Alan Dickens immediately.
His role starts with a bang, naming this squad for tests in Georgia, 27th May and 1st June, before heading for the World Rugby U20 Championships in South Africa from the 24th June to the 14th July.
A 29-player squad has been selected for the Georgia tour, with Leicester Tigers’ Lewis Chessum, the young brother of breakthrough England star Ollie, skippering the side. Chessum is one of four Leicester Tigers in the side, with fellow forward Finn Carnduff also selected along with Jacob Cusick and Joseph Woodward in the backline.
Harlequins are the most represented club though, with a stunning seven players in the squad, Ethan Clarke, Harry Browne, Nathan Jibulu, and Zach Carr in the pack, and Benjamin Waghorn, Cassius Cleaves, and Connor Slevin in the backs.
Sale Sharks are also represented well, they have five players in the squad, Asher Opoku-Fordjour and Tristan Woodman up front and Alex Wills, Nye Thomas, and Rekeiti Ma’asi-White in the backs.
No other side has more than two players in the squad, though all eleven Gallagher Premiership side are represented. Harvey Cuckson and Sam Harris represent Bath, whose great rivals Bristol Bears are represented by James Halliwell and Joe Jenkins. Northampton Saints see Craig Wright and Toby Thame selected, and there are two players each for London Irish and Saracens too, Afolabi Fasogbon and Chandler Cunningham-South for the Exiles, Nathan Michelow and Charlie Bracken for Saracens.
Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester, and Newcastle Falcons each have one player in the the squad, Greg Fisilau, Finn Theobald-Thomas, and Louie Johnson respectively.
Nine of the squad are uncapped, former Felsted hooker Craig Wright, Harlequins trio Ethan Clarke, Zach Carr, and Connor Slevin, Bath’s Harvey Cuckson, Bristol’s James Halliwell, and Saracens’ Nathan Michelow, along with Sale’s Alex Wills and Saints’ Toby Thame.
There will later be a final squad named for the World U20 Championships, which sees England drawn in Pool B alongside Australia, Fiji, and Ireland.
Commenting on the squad, Mark Mapletoft, said: “Congratulations to all players selected for the tour of Georgia. These two matches will allow us to test ourselves on the road against a physical outfit with a tight turnaround, just like we’ll face at the World Rugby U20 Championship in South Africa.”
Meanwhile, on his appointment: I’m very excited to move into the head coach role with England men’s U20. It’s a big responsibility to help shape the young men coming through our pathways programme and one I’ve taken great pride in throughout my career, including when working with many of this squad’s players and those who’ve gone on to play in the England senior team in my previous roles.
“Our focus now is using the tour of Georgia to continue preparing for the World Rugby U20 Championship in South Africa, which will be a valuable development experience for the players, by playing against a big, physical side with a set piece-focus.”
England Men’s U20 Squad
Afolabi Fasogbon (London Irish)
Asher Opoku-Fordjour (Sale Sharks)
Chandler Cunningham-South (London Irish)
Craig Wright (Northampton Saints)
Ethan Clarke (Harlequins)
Finn Carnduff (Leicester Tigers)
Finn Theobald-Thomas (Gloucester)
Greg Fisilau (Exeter Chiefs)
Harry Browne (Harlequins)
Harvey Cuckson (Bath Rugby)
James Halliwell (Bristol Bears)
Lewis Chessum (Leicester Tigers)
Nathan Jibulu (Harlequins)
Nathan Michelow (Saracens)
Tristan Woodman (Sale Sharks)
Zach Carr (Harlequins)
Alex Wills (Sale Sharks)
Benjamin Waghorn (Harlequins)
Cassius Cleaves (Harlequins)
Charlie Bracken (Saracens)
Connor Slevin (Harlequins)
Jacob Cusick (Leicester Tigers)
Joe Jenkins (Bristol Bears)
Joseph Woodward (Leicester Tigers)
Louie Johnson (Newcastle Falcons)
Nye Thomas (Sale Sharks)
Rekeiti Ma’asi-White (Sale Sharks)
Sam Harris (Bath Rugby)
Toby Thame (Northampton Saints)