The England XV to face the Barbarians on Sunday at Twickenham has been named.
The side is a real who’s who of recent school rugby stars and stars of the recent U20 triumphs. Harlequins Marcus Smith who left Brighton College just under two years ago is one of the headline acts, he starts at ten having been withdrawn from England’s World Rugby U20 Championship squad in order to play in this game.
Smith also starred in England U20’s run to last year’s World Rugby U20 Championship final. Four other players in this England XV also featured in that squad. Leicester Tigers and former Denstone College scrum half Ben White is on the bench along with London Irish’s sensational former Wellington College winger Ben Loader.
It is the two other starters in the side from the graduating U20 class that will be most widely known though, Ben Curry starts at openside, following in the footsteps on twin brother Tom, who started through the Six Nations for England, Ben skippered that U20 side last year. Could we soon see both Currys in a senior England side? Northampton Saints’ former Felsted School star, Ehren Painter, starts at tighthead just two years on from leaving school, he starts ahead of clubmate, and a World Rugby U20 Champion in 2014, Paul Hill who is one of just three players in the squad with senior England caps, fellow replacements Tommy Taylor and number 8 Teimana Harrison are the other two.
England also reached the World Rugby U20s final in 2017, and the scrum half there was Northampton Saints’ Alex Mitchell, the former Lymm High School man starts alongside Marcus Smith for Sunday’s 3.30pm kick off.
Sunday’s centre pairing are familiar, Newcastle Falcons’ Johnny Williams and Harlequins’ Joe Marchant spent plenty of time together in England’s successful U20 campaign in Manchester back in 2016, the most recent of their three World Championship successes.
Marchant was also involved in the run to the 2015 final, as was Bristol Bears’ Piers O’Conor, who starts on the right wing for this game. Wasps’ Josh Bassett is his wing partner, with Newcastle Falcons’ Simon Hammersley rewarded for a fine season with a start at full back.
The year before, 2014, England won their second World Rugby U20 Championship. Paul Hill has involved in that one, as was former Millfield star Tom Ellis. The Bath man is on the bench alongside Hill, covering the back row, where he will be joined by fellow Millfield old boy Callum Sheedy, the Bristol Bears fly half has enjoyed a rapid rise this year.
Ellis’ Bath teammate Elliott Stooke, a member of England’s first ever U20 World Championship winning squad in 2013, starts in the second row, where he partners Sale Sharks’ Josh Beaumont, who will follow in his father Bill’s footsteps by captaining the side.
Up in the front row Sale Sharks’ Ross Harrison joins Ehren Painter, the member of the 2012 England U20 side starts at loosehead, while Bath’s Tom Dunn starts at hooker.
Joining Curry and Harrison in the back row is Harlequins’ Alex Dombrandt, the sensation of this year’s Gallagher Premiership who reached the Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s final with John Fisher before starring for Cardiff Met Uni ahead of being signed this year by Quins.
Meanwhile joining Taylor, Hill, Ellis, White, Sheedy, and Loader on the England XV bench are Leicester Tigers second row Will Spencer, and Bath loosehead Beno Obano, who played in all three of Dulwich College’s U18 Schools Cup triumphs in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
15 Simon Hammersley (Newcastle Falcons)
14 Piers O’Conor (Bristol Bears)
13 Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
12 Johnny Williams (Newcastle Falcons)
11 Josh Bassett (Wasps)
10 Marcus Smith (Harlequins)
9 Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints)
1 Ross Harrison (Sale Sharks)
2 Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby)
3 Ehren Painter (Northampton Saints)
4 Elliott Stooke (Bath Rugby)
5 Josh Beaumont (Sale Sharks, captain)
6 Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins)
7 Ben Curry (Sale Sharks)
8 Teimana Harrison (Northampton Saints)
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor (Wasps), 17 Beno Obano (Bath Rugby), 18 Paul Hill (Northampton Saints), 19 Will Spencer (Leicester Tigers), 20 Tom Ellis (Bath Rugby), 21 Ben White (Leicester Tigers), 22 Callum Sheedy (Bristol Bears), 23 Ben Loader (London Irish).