England have named their squad for the annual U18 International Series in South Africa, which takes place in early August, with matchdays on Friday 9th August and Tuesday 13th August, and Saturday 17th August.
Alongside England are France, Argentina, and Wales, along with South Africa Schools and South Africa Schools A. England will face Argentina, France, and South Africa Schools, while Wales will meet South Africa Schools, South Africa Schools A, and France.
Jim Mallinder heads up the England U18 coaching group and he has named a squad of 26, who will form the backbone of the squad for the forthcoming U18 season.
Seven of his squad were capped for the U18 side earlier in 2019, with Wellington College prop Fin Baxter, RGS Newcastle’s Phil Brantingham, Millfield’s Ewan Richards, Beechen Cliff’s John Stewart, and Cranleigh’s Will Trenholm the capped forwards alongside Beechen Cliff’s Orlando Bailey and Cheltenham College’s Louis Hillman-Cooper in the backs.
In total eighteen schools and colleges are represented, fourteen schools and four AASE Colleges. London Irish’s AASE side, St Paul’s Catholic College, have a staggering four players in the squad, Tarek Haffar and Joe Keohane in the forwards and Michael Dykes and Alex Harmes in the backs. They are joined by their London Irish clubmate, Will Joseph, making London Irish the most represented club with five players. Joseph is the younger brother of Bath and England’s Jonathan, and is joined in the squad by his Millfield teammate, Ewan Richards.
Richards is one of four Bath players in the squad, the other three are all at AASE side Beechen Cliff, John Stewart, Ethan Staddon, and Orlando Bailey.
Leicester Tigers also have four players in the squad, two from their AASE side Brooksby Melton College, Archie Vanes and Sam Edwards, with Oakham’s Kit Smith and Rugby’s Emeka Ilione joining them.
Gosforth Academy are the fourth AASE side represented, Matthew Ward representing the Newcastle Faclons affiliates and he is joined by clubmate Phil Brantingham of RGS Newcastle, who brings plenty of experience.
Only Exeter Chiefs, Bristol Bears, and Yorkshire Carnegie of the fourteen Academies are unrepresented, Harlequins meanwhile have three players in the squad, Cranleigh duo Will Trenholm and Oscar Beard alongside Wellington College’s Fin Baxter.
Wasps and Gloucester are the only other club sides with multiple representatives, they have two players each in the squad, Bloxham’s Daniel Eckersley and Abindgon’s Charlie Atkinson represent Wasps, while Dean Close’s Freddie Thomas and Cheltenham College’s Louis Hillman-Cooper represent Gloucester.
Worcester Warriors, Saracens, Northampton Saints, and Sale Sharks each have one player in the squad, all from different schools. Warwick’s Jack Forsythe represents Worcester, with Felsted’s Sam Bryan the Saracens representative. Northampton School for Boys’ Ethan Grayson, son of former England fly half Paul and brother of James, is at Saints like his father and brother before, while Sedbergh’s Oliver Melville represents Sale Sharks.
England will be in action against Argentina in their opener, which kicks off at 1.30pm (BST) on Friday 9th August at Paul Roos Gymnasium. They then move on to Paarl Gymnasium on Tuesday 13th August to take on France at 3pm before their big finale on Saturday 17th August against South Africa Schools at Hugenote High, kicking off at 2pm.
Speaking to www.englandrugby.com ahead of the tour, England U18 Head Coach Jim Mallinder said:
“The U18 South Africa tour gives our players a unique experience of playing an international tournament, away from home, at the start of their pathway journey, to play two fixtures against southern hemisphere opposition, as well as a game against France, will be valuable for them as they look to transition through the pathway and I want them to make the most of the experience.”
“I want them to understand what it takes to be part of an England team, but to feel comfortable exploring their game and developing their skills in this environment. The games come thick and fast so they will also get an insight into the importance of their behaviour off the pitch, focusing on recovery and analysis as well preparation for the next match.”
“The tour is about more than just the matches though and I hope they also get to experience the unique culture in South Africa, form friendships with players they will progress through the pathway with and make some memories along the way.”
England’s U18 International Series Squad:
Fin Baxter (Wellington College & Harlequins)
Phil Brantingham (RGS Newcastle & Newcastle Falcons)
Daniel Eckersley (Bloxham & Wasps)
Jack Forsythe (Warwick & Worcester Warriors)
Tarek Haffar (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish)
Emeka Ilione (Rugby & Leicester Tigers)
Joe Keohane (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish)
Ewan Richards (Millfield & Bath)
Kit Smith (Oakham & Leicester Tigers)
Ethan Staddon (Beechen Cliff & Bath)
John Stewart (Beechen Cliff & Bath)
Freddie Thomas (Dean Close & Gloucester)
Will Trenholm (Cranleigh & Harlequins)
Archie Vanes (Brooksby Melton College & Leicester Tigers)
Charlie Atkinson (Abingdon & Wasps)
Orlando Bailey (Beechen Cliff & Bath)
Oscar Beard (Cranleigh & Harlequins)
Sam Bryan (Felsted & Saracens)
Michael Dykes (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish)
Sam Edwards (Brooksby Melton College & Leicester Tigers)
Ethan Grayson (Northampton School for Boys & Northampton Saints)
Alex Harmes (St Paul’s Catholic College & London Irish)
Louis Hillman-Cooper (Cheltenham College & Gloucester)
Will Joseph (Millfield & London Irish)
Oliver Melville (Sedbergh & Sale Sharks)
Matthew Ward (Gosforth Academy & Newcastle Falcons)
U18 International Series Fixtures (all times BST):
Matchday 1 – Friday 9th August, Paul Roos Gymnasium
12pm – South Africa Schools A v France
1.30pm – England v Argentina
3pm – South Africa Schools v Wales
Matchday 2 – Tuesday 13th August, Paarl Gymnasium
12pm – South Africa Schools A v Wales
1.30pm – South Africa Schools v Argentina
3pm – England v France
Matchday 3 – Saturday 17th August, Hugenote High, Wellington
11am – South Africa Schools A v Argentina
12.30pm – France v Wales
2pm – South Africa Schools v England