England have named their side to take on Wales in Saturday’s U18 6 Nations Festival opener at Hartpury College.
The Gillman’s Ground will play host to all three of the opening day’s games, kicking off with England v Wales at 12.10pm, with all three games, and indeed the whole festival, broadcast live on FreeSports.
Brooksby Melton College’s George Martin will once again skipper the England U18 side and he is one of three Leicester Tigers named in the starting fifteen along with Oakham’s Jack van Poortvliet at scrum half and Denstone College’s Joe Browning on the right wing.
Partnership Martin in the second row is Dean Close’s Archie Benson, one of a remarkable five Gloucester players in the starting fifteen. Joining Benson is his schoolmate Josh Gray, who starts on the openside flank alongside fellow Gloucesterman Jack Clement of Cheltenham College, whose schoolmate Louis Hillman-Cooper is at outside centre.
The final Gloucester player in the side is loosehead Harry Fry, who will be playing on home turf as he is currently a Hartpury College pupil. His front row partners are the Harlequins pair of Wellington College’s Fin Baxter at tighthead and St George’s Weybridge’s Sam Riley at hooker.
Beechen Cliff’s Bath star Nahum Merigan is the final member of the pack, he starts at number 8 while is schoolmate Orlando Bailey, a delightful player to watch, is at inside centre. Two further Beechen Cliff players are in the 23, John Stewart and George Worboys on the bench. Fellow Bath man Ewan Richards is also on the bench and could face his schoolmate Dan Johns, who is on the Welsh bench.
The backline will be guided by Sedbergh star Tom Curtis, who is selected at fly half. The Sale Shark could himself face familiar opposition, with schoolmate Carwyn Tuipulotu on the bench for Wales. There will also be plenty of interest in his battle against opposite man Ed Dunford of Whitgift, with Curtis and Dunford two real stars of the school scene this season and who have guided their sides to some of the most prestigious titles in school rugby this season.
England’s back three meanwhile sees Curtis’ Sale Sharks teammate Tom Roebuck of Wirral Grammar on the left with, with Browning on the right, Woodhouse Grove’s Joe Carpenter meanwhile makes his England U18 debut and starts at full back.
The bench meanwhile sees RGS Newcaslte’s Phil Brantigham and St Paul’s Catholic College’s Luke Green covering the front row alongside Stewart, while Ewan Richards and Craleigh’s Will Trenholm complete the forward replacements.
Sale Sharks’ Raphael Quirke of St Ambrose College covers scrum half, with St Paul’s Catholic College’s Phil Cokanasiga covering the three quarters along with Worboys.
Speaking to www.englandrugby.com ahead of the game, England U18 Head Coach Jim Mallinder said:
“It’s been a few weeks since this age group last met up to play Scotland when we had a good win and the challenge for the team now is to quickly switch on to how we want to play. I want us to play with a real intent on Saturday, I’m hoping the weather is good, we’ve trained today and the pitches look firm and wide so I want us to go out and play some really good attacking rugby but also, when we are defending, to have a strong desire to get the ball back.”
“I think it’s brilliant for the players to get this festival experience. We’ve seen all the different teams arrive here on campus in Hartpury. It’s exciting for the players to see their opposition in and around the site, some of whom they know from club rugby, but most of whom they are not too familiar with and I think it’s good that they will not only play against them but spend some time with them off the pitch also.”
Following the game against Wales, England then face Ireland at 1.40pm on Wednesday at Sixways Stadium, with France their final opponents of the Festival at 1.40pm on Sunday 21st at Kingsholm Stadium.
England U18 XV v Wales – Saturday 12.10pm, Gillman’s Ground, Hartpury College (Live on FreeSports)
15 Joe Carpenter (Woodhouse Grove & Yorkshire Carnegie)
14 Joe Browning (Denstone College & Leicester Tigers)
13 Louis Hillman-Cooper (Cheltenham College & Gloucester)
12 Orlando Bailey (Beechen Cliff & Bath)
11 Tom Roebuck (Wirral GS & Sale Sharks)
10 Tom Curtis (Sedbergh & Sale Sharks)
9 Jack van Poortvliet (Oakham & Leicester Tigers)
1 Harry Fry (Hartpury College & Gloucester)
2 Sam Riley (St George’s College, Weybridge & Harlequins)
3 Fin Baxter (Wellington College & Harlequins)
4 George Martin (Brooksby Melton College & Leicester Tigers, captain)
5 Archie Benson (Dean Close & Gloucester)
6 Jack Clement (Cheltenham College & Gloucester)
7 Josh Gray (Dean Close & Gloucester)
8 Nahum Merigan (Beechen Cliff & Bath)
Replacements: 16 John Stewart (Beechen Cliff & Bath), 17 Phil Brantingham (RGS Newcastle & Newcastle Falcons), 18 Luke Green (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish), 19 Ewan Richards (Millfield & Bath), 20 Will Trenholm (Cranleigh & Harlequins), 21 Raphael Quirke (St Ambrose College & Sale Sharks), 22 Phil Cokanasiga (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish), 23 George Worboys (Beechen Cliff & Bath).
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