England U18 have named their side to take on Scotland at Billingham RUFC this Sunday, 2pm kick off.
Jim Mallinder’s squad is largely as announced a week ago, when two U18 squads were named, one for Sunday’s game against Scotland and another for next weekend’s game against France, with ten players set to play across both fixtures.
There are a couple of changes though, with Sutton Valence’s Harvey Beaton and Cheltenham College’s Jack Clement unavailable. That sees Bishop Wordsworth’s Xavier Hastings come in alongside Wellington College’s Fin Baxter and Millfield’s Ewan Richards, bringing the squad up to full matchday 23 from the original 22 named.
Brooksby Melton College’s George Martin will captain the side from the second row where he packs down alongside Dean Close’s Archie Benson. All being well, both players are scheduled to face France next weekend too.
Benson’s Dean Close and Gloucester teammate Josh Gray packs down at blindside flanker, showing just what fantastic work Dean Close have been doing, and, like his schoolmate, Gray is set to face France as well. Hastings’ call up sees him start at 7 and his Bath teammate Nahum Merigan of Beechen Cliff starts at 8 alongside him.
Hartpury College provide both of the starting props, making it a remarkable four Gloucester players in the pack, and five in the starting fifteen. Harry Fry is at loosehead and Jenson Boughton at tighthead. Between them is St George’s College Weybridge’s Sam Riley, a young hooker that is oozing with class, his only misfortune being to share an age-group with Alfie Barbeary, who is on the bench for England U20 tonight.
The backline sees the brilliant Tom Curtis of Sedbergh at fly half, who can forget his game winning touchline conversion against Wellington College back in November. Curtis should return against France too, as should his half back partner Jack van Poortvliet of Oakham.
Van Poorvliet is one of two Leicester Tigers in the backline, with Denstone College’s Joe Browning on the right win, meanwhile Curtis’ clubmate at Sale Sharks, Tom Roebuck of Wirral Grammar, is on the left wing. Joining them in the back three is Beechen Cliff’s George Worboys at full back, one of an impressive four Beechen Cliff players in the 23-man squad.
The centres see the fifth Gloucester Academy man in the starting fifteen, Cheltenham College’s Louis Hillman-Cooper starts at outside centre and is set to play against France too. Alongside him is a man with a surname that few fans of English rugby will need reminding of after last week’s Six Nations performances, Phil Cokanasiga of London Irish and St Paul’s Catholic College, younger brother of Joe, starts at inside centre.
The bench includes Sale Sharks and St Ambrose College scrum half Raphael Quirke, who is set to face both Scotland and France. Joining him in covering the backline is the silky Orlando Bailey of Beechen Cliff, equally at home at fly half and full back, and Caterham’s Jude Williams, the only Wasp in the squad.
Covering the front row is Bailey’s Bath and Beechen Cliff teammate John Stewart, he will come on at hooker, with loosehead Luke Green of St Paul’s Catholic College, and the outstanding Wellington College tighthead Fin Baxter, who has been playing top level schools rugby in the coalface of the front row since he was an U16. Millfield’s Ewan Richards covers the second row, while Cranleigh’s Will Trenholm, so pivotal in their brilliant 7s performances this season, covers the back row.
Speaking to www.englandrugby.com about the game, Jim Mallinder said:
“We are looking forward to taking on Scotland at Billingham RUFC, one of the advantages of playing on a brand-new AGP is whatever the weather conditions, it gives us the ability to play with ball in hand.”
“I want the players to enjoy the occasion, which is a massive thing about rugby; they have to enjoy playing the game but also understand that this is a brilliant opportunity for them. They’ve come through their schools and their academies and now have an opportunity to play for England with some of the best 23 players in the country, and to show how good they are at this level. We have some good players and our challenge will be how quickly we can come together, develop and improve as a team. “
“It’s great that we’re taking this fixture to the north of England and we’re looking forward to playing in front of vocal home support at Billingham.”
England U18 XV v Scotland – Sunday, 2pm, Billingham RUFC
15 George Worboys (Bath & Beechen Cliff)
14 Joe Browning (Leicester Tigers & Denstone College)
13 Louis Hillman-Cooper (Gloucester & Cheltenham College)
12 Phil Cokanasiga (London Irish & St Pauls Catholic College)
11 Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks & Wirral Grammar)
10 Tom Curtis (Sale Sharks & Sedbergh)
9 Jack Van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers & Oakham)
1 Harry Fry (Gloucester & Hartpury College)
2 Sam Riley (Harlequins & St George’s College, Weybridge)
3 Jenson Boughton (Gloucester & Hartpury College)
4 George Martin (Leicester Tigers & Brooksby Melton College)
5 Archie Benson (Gloucester & Dean Close)
6 Josh Gray (Gloucester & Dean Close)
7 Xavier Hastings (Bath & Bishop Wordsworth’s)
8 Nahum Merigan (Bath & Beechen Cliff)
Replacements: 16 John Stewart (Bath & Beechen Cliff ), 17 Luke Green (London Irish & St Paul’s Catholic College), 18 Fin Baxter (Harlequins & Wellington College), 19 Ewan Richards (Bath & Millfield), 20 Will Trenholm (Harlequins & Cranleigh), 21 Raphael Quirke (Sale Sharks & St Ambrose College), 22 Orlando Bailey (Bath & Beechen Cliff), 23 Jude Williams (Wasps & Caterham).
England U18/U19 Fixtures:
England v Scotland – Sunday 17th March, 2pm, Billingham RUFC
England v France – Sunday 24th March, 2pm, Cheshunt RFC
England U19 v Wales U19 – Sunday 7th April, 2pm, Bridgend RFC
England v Wales – Sat 13th April, 12pm, Hartpury College (6 Nations Festival)
England v Ireland – Wed 17th April, 1.30pm, Sixways (6 Nations Festival)
England v France – Sunday 21st April, 1.30pm, Kingsholm (6 Nations Festival)
England U18 Squad v France – Cheshunt RFC, Sunday 24th March, 2pm
Alfie Barbeary (Wasps & Bloxham)
George Barton (Gloucester & Dean Close)
Harvey Beaton (Saracens & Sutton Valence)
Archie Benson (Gloucester & Dean Close)
Jack Clement (Gloucester & Cheltenham College)
Tom Curtis (Sale Sharks & Sedbergh)
Theodore Dan (Saracens & Alleyn’s)
Josh Gillespie (Northampton Saints & Millfield)
Josh Gray (Gloucester & Dean Close)
James Harper (Sale Sharks & Merchant Taylor’s)
Louis Hillman-Cooper (Gloucester & Cheltenham College)
Joe Howard (Gloucester & Hartpury College)
Louis Lynagh (Harlequins & Hampton)
George Martin (Leicester Tigers & Brooksby Melton College)
Chunya Munga (London Irish & Leighton Park)
Zac Nearchou (Wasps & Radley College)
Max Ojomoh (Bath & KES Bath)
Raphael Quirke (Sale Sharks & St Ambrose College)
Jack Reid (Harlequins & Wellington College)
Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks & Wirral Grammar)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers & Norwich)
Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers & Oakham)
James Whitcombe (Leicester Tigers & Woodhouse Grove)