England U19 travel to Bridgend RFC on Sunday to take on Wales U19 at Morganstone Brewery Field.
The 2pm kick off will be shown live on S4C, and gives a valuable chance of playing time in a national shirt for those U18 players that fall outside of the calendar window for representation at the forthcoming U18 6 Nations, and those U20 qualified players that may not have had too much opportunity yet at that level due to being a year young.
Twelve schoolboys are in the England 23, with five of them starting. Bloxham’s rising star Alfie Barbeary starts at hooker, the only U18 to start ahead of a more senior player, though Barbeary has also played for England U20 this year. The only other U18 forward is Hartpury College’s Joe Howard at blindside.
Jonny Law of Rugby School is at scrum half with Sedbergh’s Will Haydon-Wood at fly half just days after sealing that remarkable ‘double-treble’ of the winning the Daily Mail Trophy, Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s, and Sedbergh 10s back to back.
Hampton full back Louis Lynagh is on the right wing, the final U18 player in the starting fifteen. He starts on the wing to accommodate former Sedbergh star Josh Hodge, who played for the U20s in the Six Nations, at full back.
Howard is joined by two former Hartpury College teammates, Jacob Morris starts on the left wing with Jack Reeves at inside centre. Reeves is partnered in the midfield by former Cranleigh star Harry Barlow.
Barlow’s former Cranleigh teammate Hugh Tizard is in the second row alongside former Kirkbie Kendal star Will Montgomery, while joining Howard in the back row is former Wellington College back rower Izaiha Moore-Aiono and ex Exeter College number 8 Rus Tuima, who has starred for the U20s this year.
Either side of Barbeary in the front row are the Sale Sharks props Cal Ford, formerly of Sandbach, at tighthead, and Bevan Rodd at loosehead, one of four current or former Sedbergh players in the squad.
The fourth is current Sedbergh skipper Tom Curtis, who is on the bench alongside his Sale Sharks U18 half back partner Raphael Quirke of St Ambrose College. Millfield’s Josh Gillespie completes the backline replacements.
Up front Barnard Castle’s Freddie Lockwood and Cheltenham College’s Jack Clement cover the back five of the scrum, while Radley College’s Zac Nearchou and Woodhouse Grove’s James Whitcombe cover the props. Ben Atkins, once of St Paul’s Catholic College, is the replacement and the only non-U18 on the bench.
For four of the side Sunday will be a particularly special day as they will be making their England age-grade debuts, Tizard, Moore-Aiono, and Law from the start, and Lockwood from the bench.
Unlike England, Wales have had some U19 practice so far this season, winning a two game series again Japan 2-0.
The Wales side is captained by outside centre Joe Roberts of the Scarlets and also includes a member of the Wales 7s squad, Jay Jones, on the left wing.
Roberts is surrounded by three other Scarlets in the backline, Osian Knott partnering him in the centres, Harri Doel at full back, and Dafydd Land at scrum half. Ospreys’ Josh Thomas is at fly half, while on the right wing is Leo Gilliland, currently of Brooksby Melton College and one of four Exiles in the 23.
The front row sees Garyn Phillips and Cameron Lewis of Cardiff Blues team up, with Dragons’ Luke Yendle at tighthead. While in the second row another Exile, Olly White of Exeter University, teams up with Ospreys’ James Fender.
The back row year Cardiff Blues’ Ioan Davies at blinside with Ospreys’ Morgan Strong at 8, meanwhile Hampton School’s Gwilym Bradley is at openside, the third and final Exile in the starting fifteen, where he will be opposite his schoolmate Louis Lynagh on England’s right wing.
The bench Includes three Scarlets, Dean James, Dom Booth, and Adam Thomas, with four Dragons, Dylan Bartlerr, Max Ayling, Benji Hoppe, and Evan Lloyd. The is also an Exile on the bench, the exciting former Bryanston scrum half, Ellis Bevan.
Speaking to www.englandrugby.com ahead of the game England U18 & U19 Head Coach Jim Mallinder said:
“This fixture gives us a really good opportunity to see a number of players who have either not played too much U20 rugby during the Six Nations or our U18 players with September birthdays who are too old for the U18 Six Nations Festival and will be pushing to get into the U20 Elite Player Squad next season.”
“We have some really good individuals in the squad and the challenge is to use the limited time we have in training to come together on Sunday and play well, enjoy ourselves as well as look like a cohesive team. Whenever you see an England-Wales match at any level there is always that fierce rivalry and we know Sunday will be no different. Wales are well-organised at age-grade level and we know it will be a real challenge for this group but it is one we’re looking forward to.”
Meanwhile when speaking to www.wru.wales Wales U19 head coach Geraint Lewis said:
“The selection for England reflects the performances from the two games against Japan High Schools, where we recorded two high scoring victories, the boys showed plenty of effort and endeavour against Japan who posed unique threats, especially defensively. It’s always difficult to gauge, but to get two wins, when we changed the squads around a lot, was heartening but we know England will pose an entirely different proposition.”
“There are a number of players who are potentially knocking at the door for U20 selection so the game against England is a good carrot for the boys, whenever you play against England you have to be able to impose yourself to get a foothold in the game and Sunday will not be any different. Hopefully the more senior boys will step forward and lead the way.”
Wales U19 v England U19 – Sunday, 2pm, Bridgend RFC (Live on S4C)
15 Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons & ex Sedbergh)
14 Louis Lynagh (Harlequins & Hampton)
13 Harry Barlow (Harlequins & ex Cranleigh)
12 Jack Reeves (Gloucester & ex Hartpury College)
11 Jacob Morris (Gloucester & ex Hartpury College)
10 Will Haydon-Wood (Newcastle Falcons & Sedbergh)
9 Jonny Law (Leicester Tigers & Rugby)
1 Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks & ex Sedbergh)
2 Alfie Barbeary (Wasps & Bloxham)
3 Cal Ford (Sale Sharks & ex Sandbach)
4 Will Montgomery (Newcastle Falcons & ex Kirkbie Kendal)
5 Hugh Tizard (Harlequins & ex Cranleigh)
6 Joe Howard (Gloucester & Hartpury College)
7 Izaiha Moore-Aiono (London Irish & ex Wellington College)
8 Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs & ex Exeter College)
Replacements: 16 Ben Atkins (London Irish & ex St Paul’s Catholic College), 17 Zac Nearchou (Wasps & Radley College), 18 James Whitcombe (Leicester Tigers & Woodhouse Grove), 19 Freddie Lockwood (Newcastle Falcons & Barnard Castle), 20 Jack Clement (Gloucester & Cheltenham College), 21 Raphael Quirke (Sale Sharks & St Ambrose College), 22 Tom Curtis (Sale Sharks & Sedbergh), 23 Josh Gillespie (Northampton Saints & Millfield).
15 Harri Doel (Scarlets)
14 Leo Gilliland (Exiles, Brooksby Melton College)
13 Joe Roberts (Scarlets, captain)
12 Osian Knott (Scarlets)
11 Jay Jones (Wales 7s)
10 Josh Thomas (Ospreys)
9 Dafydd Land (Scarlets)
1 Garyn Phillips (Cardiff Blues)
2 Cameron Lewis (Cardiff Blues)
3 Luke Yendle (Dragons)
4 Olly White (Exiles, Exeter University)
5 James Fender (Ospreys)
6 Ioan R Davies (Cardiff Blues)
7 Gwilym Bradley (Exiles, Hampton)
8 Morgan Strong (Ospreys)
Replacements: 16 Dom Booth (Scarlets), 17 Dylan Bartlett (Dragons), 18 Adam Thomas (Scarlets), 19 Max Ayling (Dragons), 20 Benji Hoppe (Dragons), 21 Ellis Bevan (Exiles, ex Bryanston), 22 Evan Lloyd (Dragons), 23 Dean James (Scarlets).