The England U20 Elite Player Squad has been named, the 32-man group will form the basis of the U20 NatWest Six Nations campaign, and the World Rugby U20 Championships later in the year.
Fourteen of the squad have been capped at U20 level before, not least Sale Sharks and former Oundle flanker Ben Curry, who was a part of the England senior squad this summer, alongside twin brother Tom, who remains part of that squad, but for a wrist injury.
Alongside Curry are Alex Seville, Henry Walker, Dino Lamb-Cona, James Grayson, Will Butler, Ali Crossdale, and Tom Parton, who all participated in last year’s run to the World Rugby U20 Championship final, as well as Ben Earl, who captained the side in that campaign, and Gabriel Ibitoye, a former England U18 captain who starred in last year’s U20 Championships.
The squad can first be seen in action in the U20 Six Nations, with their first game away to Italy. Following that England welcome Wales before trips to Scotland and France, before they finish up at home to Ireland.
Whilst there is plenty of U20 experience in the side, including Rory Brand and Worcester Warriors Ted Hill, who like Marcus Street represented both England U18 and U20 last year, there are also plenty of new U18 graduates.
Eight members of the U18 group that travelled to South Africa in August are included, Joe Heyes, Beck Cutting, James Scott, Josh Basham, Sam Moore, Tom Willis, Tom Seabrook, and Fraser Dingwall.
The coaching team is led by Steve Bates, with Anthony Allen, Richard Blaze, and James Pointon adding to their coaching experience as his assisstants. Commenting on the squad, Bates said to www.englandrugby.com :
“By naming the squad in January we’ve been able to pick players who have been performing well in the first half of the season, we have some injury issues but I think we’ve got a really exciting squad with players who have played a good amount of rugby.”
“Our experienced players are going to be hugely influential as we don’t have much time together ahead of the Six Nations. The players who know what to expect will be important as they will have an impact on the playing style as well as getting the group together off the pitch and integrating everyone as quickly as possible.”
“This is a new group of players with new coaches, so although we head into the Six Nations as defending champions we do not carry the pressure of that tag, we have a proud history in the tournament but we will be looking to create our own legacy with what is a new set up.”
Following the U20 Six Nations, the squad will then prepare for the World Rugby U20 Championships, with this year take place from Wednesday 30th May to Sunday 17th June. They will be held in France, across three venues, Narbonne, Beziers, and Perpignan, and England are drawn in Pool B alongside Scotland, Italy, and Argentina as they bid to make it six finals in a row.
England U20 2017/18 EPS Squad:
Josh Basham (London Irish), Ben Curry (Sale Sharks), Beck Cutting (Worcester Warriors), Ben Earl (Saracens), Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers), Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), Dino Lamb (Harlequins), Sam Lewis (Leicester Tigers), Sam Moore (Sale Sharks), Joe Morris (Worcester Warriors), Gabriel Oghre (Wasps), James Scott (Worcester Warriors), Alex Seville (Gloucester), Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs), Toby Trinder (Northampton Saints), Henry Walker (Gloucester), Tom Willis (Wasps).
Rory Brand (London Irish), Will Butler (Worcester Warriors), Aaron Chapman (Bristol), Ali Crossdale (Saracens), Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints), James Grayson (Northampton Saints), Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers), Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins), Ben Loader (London Irish), Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers), Tom Parton (London Irish), Tom Seabrook (Gloucester), Joe Snow (Exeter Chiefs), Ben White (Leicester Tigers), Matt Williams (London Irish).