England have named their squad for their annual U18 tour of South Africa in August.
The squad for the AON U18 International Series, where they will play France, Wales, and South Africa Schools, is the first in a decade without John Fletcher and Peter Walton with the coaching reigns. England U20 Head Coach Steve Bates will lead the coaching team alongside the newly appointed Jim Mallinder, with Mark Luffman assisting alongside former London Irish Director of Rugby Nick Kennedy, who comes in as a consultant.
The tour group is made up largely of U17s, with the calendar focus of the England performance pathway changing slightly. Where once this tour was viewed as the end of season tour, it is now the start of season tour, with the season ending in the U18 6 Nations Festival. It also means that U18 players will be able to have a full pre-season with their new Gallagher Premiership clubs.
Commenting on the change, England’s Head of International Player Development, Dean Ryan, said:
“By taking our U17 group we are ensuring our best players are available to tour South Africa. Previously we always felt, along with the clubs, that being U18 in August was an important period for them transitioning from school into senior rugby and the tour did not fit into that window. It also denied U18 players having a full pre-season with their club or alternatively denied us the chance to take our best players on tour.”
“The South Africa tour used to be the end of the U18 programme whereas now it’s the start of the journey and allows us to connect the pathway calendar. Those that travel with us to South Africa will be eligible for the U18 spring internationals before having a full pre-season at their clubs in July and August before continuing their international journey.”
“It was important to produce a model that complements the club scene and fits in with their programme to make the journey through the pathway more seamless.”
Five players in the 26-man squad already have U18 International experience with England, Bloxham School’s Alfie Barbeary, Sedbergh’s Tom Curtis, Dean Close fly half George Barton, and AASE pair Callum Pascoe of Gosforth Academy and George Martin of Brooksby Melton College, while Hymers College’s Archie Smeaton featured for Scotland U18 last year.
Twelve of the 14 Premiership Academies are represented, Exeter Chiefs and Worcester Warriors are the only two teams with no players included. Harlequins have an impressive five players in the squad, including Whitgift School pair Harry Dugmore and George Hammond up front along with Sam Riley of St George’s Weybridge, with Hampton’s Louis Lynagh and Christ’s Hospital’s Lennox Anyanwu.
Gloucester are also well represented, they have three players in the squad, Cheltenham College’s Jack Clement and Hartpury College’s Rowan Mullis up front, with the aforementioned Barton in the backline.
Sale Sharks also have three, all in the back division. Newly named Sedbergh School 1st XV captain Tom Curtis is selected alongside St Ambrose College’s Raphael Quirke and Wirral Grammar School’s Tom Roebuck. Curtis is joined by a schoolmate in Newcastle Falcons’ Will Haydon-Wood, making Sedbergh one of just two schools with more than one player in the squad alongside Whitgift. Gosforth’s Pascoe makes it two Newcastle Falcons in the squad.
London Irish are the third team with three players in the squad, up front they are represented by Wellington College star Fin Rossiter and Leighton Park’s Chunya Munga. In the back division they will be represented by a familiar name in St Paul’s Catholic College’s Phil Cokanasiga.
Leicester Tigers have two players in the squad, both up front, the experienced Martin and Woodhouse Grove prop James Whitcombe. Rivals Northampton Saints see Uppingham’s Jack Hughes up front and Millfield’s Josh Gillespie behind. Saracens also have two, Sutton Valence’s Harvey Beaton in the pack and New Hall’s Josh Hallett in the backs.
Wasps, Bath, Yorkshire Carnegie, and Bristol Bears each have one player in the squad, with Wasps represented by the experienced Barbeary, Bath by Beechen Cliff’s Nahum Merigan, Carnegie by Smeaton, and Bristol Bears by SGS Filton College’s Jack Bates.
Commenting on the selection, Dean Ryan said:
“This will likely be the first time the players have been away from home for an extended period of time playing an international rugby tournament, so that will challenge them in different ways,” said Dean Ryan, head of international player development.”
“They will also play three international fixtures in a short space of time, so it’s an important experience for them as they transition through the pathway. For many it will also be their first experience of playing against a southern hemisphere opponent which will be valuable for those that advance into senior international rugby.”
The schedule for the AON U18 International Series sees England face France on Friday 10th August, Wales on Tuesday 14th, and South Africa Schools on Saturday 18th. All kick off at 1.15pm BST bar the final game, which kicks off at 1.05pm BST. England will be based in the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport.
England U18 Squad:
Alfie Barbeary (Bloxham, Wasps)
Harvey Beaton (Sutton Valence, Saracens)
Jack Clement (Cheltenham College, Gloucester)
Harry Dugmore (Whitgift, Harlequins)
George Hammond (Whitgift, Harlequins)
Jack Hughes (Uppingham, Northampton Saints)
George Martin (Brooksby Melton College, Leicester Tigers)
Nahum Merigan – Bath Rugby (Beechen Cliff, Bath)
Rowan Mullis (Hartpury College, Gloucester)
Chunya Munga (Leighton Park, London Irish)
Sam Riley (St George’s Weybridge, Harlequins)
Fin Rossiter (Wellington College, London Irish)
Archie Smeaton (Hymers College, Yorkshire Carnegie)
James Whitcombe (Woodhouse Grove, Leicester Tigers)
Lennox Anyanwu (Christ’s Hospital, Harlequins)
George Barton (Dean Close, Gloucester)
Jack Bates (SGS Filton College, Bristol Bears)
Phil Cokanasiga (St Paul’s Catholic College, London Irish)
Tom Curtis (Sedbergh, Sale Sharks)
Josh Gillespie (Millfield, Northampton Saints)
Josh Hallett (New Hall, Saracens)
Will Haydon-Wood (Sedbergh, Newcastle Falcons)
Louis Lynagh (Hampton, Harlequins)
Callum Pascoe (Gosforth Academy, Newcastle Falcons)
Raphael Quirke (St Ambrose College, Sale Sharks)
Tom Roebuck (Wirral Grammar, Sale Sharks)
Aon U18 International Series Schedule (All time BST):
Friday 10th August 2018, Boland Landbou:
England v France (1.15pm)
S.A. v Wales (3pm)
Tuesday 14th August, Stellenberg:
England v Wales (1.15pm)
S.A. v France (3pm)
Saturday 18th August, SACS:
France v Wales (11.15am)
S.A v England (1.05pm)