When England and Wales meet on Saturday at 12.10pm in the opening game of the U18 Six Nations Festival a number of England’s players will be going up against players in the Wales side that are on the English school circuit.
We have picked out those three all English schools battles, plus another key match up from the game, which takes place at Hartpury College’s Gillman’s Ground and will be live on FreeSports.
Particularly exciting is that these match-ups go right through the spine of the team and ought therefore to have a big bearing on the outcome of the game
Nahum Merigan (England, Bath, & Beechen Cliff) v Harry Breeze (Wales, Scarlets, & Whitgift)
The only Anglo-Welsh match up in the forwards, though with Eastbourne College’s Theo Bevacqua and Sedbergh’s Carwyn Tuipulotu on the Welsh bench there will be more come the end of the game. Merigan has been a real force for both Bath and Beechen Cliff, helping Beechen Cliff to the AASE final and Bath to third place in the U18 Academy League. Breeze meanwhile was a star in the Whitgift side that rode all the way to the U18 Schools Cup title just a month ago. This should be a cracking contest.
Tom Curtis (England, Sale Sharks, & Sedbergh) v Ed Dunford (Wales, Harlequins, & Whitgift)
Two brilliant talents stand at fly half for these two sides and between them they hold the bulk of the major schools rugby titles in England, as Sedbergh skipper Curtis guided his side to Daily Mail Trophy and Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s success before sitting out the successful Sedbergh 10s campaign due to his international commitments. Dunford meanwhile was the guiding force behind Whitgift’s U18 Schools Cup title. Both can go from anywhere, Curtis probably plays with a little more balance, Dunford maybe more eager to chance his arm. Think Dan Carter v Carlos Spencer in their pomp – we should get quite the show from the men in the 10 shirts.
Joe Carpenter (England, Yorkshire Carnegie, & Woodhouse Grove) v Ioan Lloyd (Wales, Bristol Bears, & Clifton College)
Woodhouse Grove’s Joe Carpenter makes his England U18 debut on Saturday, which should come as a shock to many as he has been playing at an extraordinary level for both his school and Yorkshire Carnegie for some time. Ioan Lloyd, meanwhile, is a dab hand at this age-grade international thing and the Clifton College flyer will be one to watch on Saturday. With exciting fly halves in front of them that know how to manipulate space, expect both of these full backs to see plenty of action on Saturday lunchtime.
Orlando Bailey (England, Bath, & Beechen Cliff) v Bradley Roderick, captain (Wales, Ospreys, & Coleg Sir Gar)
Not an all English schools head to head, but a really exciting one nonetheless with one of England’s brightest stars, Beechen Cliff’s Orlando Bailey, up at against the Wales captain, Bradley Roderick. We first saw Bailey in action as a 14 year old and since then he has never failed to impress. He is a balanced runner and a good distributer who often lines up at 10, so do not be surprised to se him and Curtis, who has played 12 for Sedbergh through much of the season, switching things up between them. Roderick is also a pretty comfortable all-rounder and has been kicking for Coleg Sir Gar, as captain his role is naturally a key one but with the Curits/Bailey axis one of England’s key threats, his defence and communication will be vital.
U18 6 Nations Festival Fixtures (all live on FreeSports):
Matchday 1 – Saturday 13th April, Gillman’s Ground, Hartpury College
England v Wales – 12.10pm
Ireland v France – 2.40pm
Scotland v Italy – 5.10pm
Matchday 2 – Wednesday 17th April, Sixways, Worcester Warriors
France v Italy – 11.10am
Ireland v England – 1.40pm
Wales v Scotland – 4.10pm
Matchday 3 – Sunday 21st April, Kingsholm, Gloucester
Scotland v Ireland – 11.10am
England v France – 1.40pm
Italy v Wales – 4.10pm