Sam Moore and Gabriel Ibitoye have been called into Eddie Jones’ England Squad as apprentice players.
Both Moore and Ibitoye have featured for England U20 in their opening two games of the U20 6 Nations versus Italy and Wales, with Ibitoye scoring a scorching try against Wales on Friday night.
Moore, a product of Sedbergh School, is the son of a former Wales international and has featured regularly for Sale Sharks this season. The number 8 has featured for England at U16, 17, 18, and 19 levels, as well as the U20s and was one of the players to captain England U18 last year.
Ibitoye meanwhile is in his second year as an U20 player. The former Trinity School winger is also a former England U18 captain and the Harlequins youngster featured across the backline for the U18 side, playing at 12, 13, and 15 as well as on the wings.
They become the second and third apprentices in this squad, joining Ibitoye’s Harlequins teammate Marcus Smith. The former Brighton College fly half was a teammate of Moore’s at U18 level last year as well as of Ibitoye at U20 level, having represented both sides.
They also link up with former Haileybury second row Nick Isiekwe, another member of the England U20 squad last year.
Zach Mercer, who early in the season was an apprentice before being promoted to full squad status ahead of the 6 Nations, was also a part of that squad. He skippered the England U20 side to the World Rugby U20 Championship final last year, meaning that England will have the last two U20 number 8s going head to head in training over the next fortnight.
It continues a theme of Eddie Jones’ squads throughout his tenure, as he looks to give recent U20 graduates and current U20 members exposure to the highest level of both training and matches with the likes of Harry Mallinder, Jack Maunder, and the Curry twins all being given opportunities to various degrees.
While Moore and Ibitoye are unlikely to feature during this campaign, their elevation shows just how highly they are rated by the England and management. Rightly so.