Wales have named their side for their opening game of the 2019 U20 6 Nations on Sunday against France.
Taking place at the Stade de la Rabine in Vannes, the game kicks off at 3pm and is live on S4C.
Head Coach Gareth Williams has named Leicester Tigers flanker Tommy Reffell as his captain, and he is joined in the back row by the exciting Taine Basham at number 8, with Jac Morgan making his debut at blindside.
There are two debutants in the second row, Teddy Williams and Jac Price, while in the front row Rhys Davies at loosehead and Dewi Lake at hooker both have U20 experience but Ben Warren at tighthead will make his debut.
In the backline Harri Morgan, who played as an U18 last year, is at scrum half with Cai Evans at fly half. Aneurin Owen of the Dragons makes his debut at 12 alongside clubmate and fellow debutant Tom Hoppe. Tomi Lewis of the Scarlets is the only man in the back three with U20 experience, with Deon Smith on the left wing and former Bristol Bears star Ioan Davies at full back both making their debuts.
Davies’ former Bristol teammate Nick English is covering tighthead on the bench alongside fellow front row replacements Will Griffiths and Kemsley Mathias, with Ed Scragg and Ellis Thomas the other forward replacements. Jamie Hill covers scrum half, with skipper Reffell’s fellow Leicester Tigers academy star Sam Costelow covering fly half, Joe Roberts covers the rest of the backline.
Speaking to Welsh Rugby Union ahead of the game, Gareth Williams said:
“We’re very excited about our first competitive game of the season, and it doesn’t get much bigger than against the current world champions, the occasion will be superb and it will be a true test for us a group. We have ambitions to emulate them in the coming years, so it will be a good start.”
“We’re delighted with how we’ve trained, and that has been a credit to players who have missed out on selection. Their intensity in training has pushed the starting team brilliantly this week.”
“We’re also very grateful to Cardiff RFC for helping us. Steve Law and his team were brilliant in an opposed training session we had at Cardiff Arms Park. With the form they are in, and quality in their squad, it was a good 45 minute challenge for our boys’ processes and approach.”
“This match represents a great opportunity. An opportunity for us as a new squad of players and coaches, but also an opportunity for individuals against a French squad with a high level of Top 14 exposure.
“If our players can prove themselves against that type of experience, it will hold us in good stead for the fixture, but also for their individual progression with our Regions.”
Wales U20 XV v France – Stade de la Rabine, Vannes, Sunday, 3pm.
15 Ioan Davies (Cardiff Blues), 14 Tomi Lewis (Scarlets), 13 Tom Hoppe (Dragons), 12 Aneurin Owen (Dragons), 11 Deon Smith (Dragons), 10 Cai Evans (Ospreys), 9 Harri Morgan (Ospreys), 1 Rhys Davies (Ospreys), 2 Dewi Lake (Ospreys), 3 Ben Warren (Cardiff Blues), 4 Teddy Williams (Cardiff Blues), 5 Jac Price (Scarlets), 6 Jac Morgan (Aberavon/Scarlets), 7 Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers, captain), 8 Taine Basham (Dragons).
Replacements: 16 Will Griffiths (Dragons), 17 Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets), 18 Nick English (Bristol Bears), 19 Ed Scragg (Dragons), 20 Ellis Thomas (Llanelli) 21 Jamie Hill (Cardiff Blues), 22 Sam Costelow (Leicester Tigers), 23 Joe Roberts (Scarlets).
Wales U20 6 Nations Fixtures:
France – Sunday 3rd Feb, Stade de la Rabine, 3pm
Italy – Sunday 10th Feb, Stadio Danilo Martelli, 3pm
England – Friday 22nd Feb, Stadiwm Zip World, 7.05pm
Scotland – Friday 8th Mar, Galashiels, 7.30pm
Ireland – Sunday 15th Mar, Stadiwm Zip World, 7.05pm